Monday, August 27, 2012

Aug 25, Bog Bridging on Mt Greylock

Saturday Aug 25th, Bog Bridge Install, North of Mt Greylock

We loaded up the truck from our materials storage area near the Mt Greylock Visitors Center.  We had about 40 pieces of lumber to carry in to the work site on the AT just north of the Bellows Pipe Trail junction.

Loaded up and ready to go.

Bog bridging (also known a puncheon) is used to carry hikers over intermittent wet or muddy areas along the Trail.  The goal is not to keep hikers feet clean, but to keep hikers from widening the footpath as they try and walk around wet and muddy areas.  If left un-bridged, these areas will just become wider and wider, creating increasing impacts on the adjacent vegetation. 

Whenever we can, we try and resolve the problem by improving the drainage, or installing large step stones, but this is not always possible in very we areas, or locations where water is collecting on top of bedrock.

Bog bridging lasts about 10 years and tends to stay on top of muddy areas, rather than sinking in.  In remote locations, we prefer to use native trees cut from the nearby forest.  However, this is time consuming, and eventually we will run out of suitable trees.   In most AT locations in Massachusetts, it is possible to use rot resistant rough sawn lumber from local saw mills.  Tamarack (also know as Larch) and Black Locust are preferred species, as they are modestly priced and are naturally resistant to decay.  This does mean that we need to carry in materials for most bog bridging work.
Don and Dave bring in some planks
Sim carries in a base timber

In some locations, we have used man-made materials such a Trex or similar products.  While they last a very long time, they are expensive, heavy, and look very unnatural in the back country.    We also try and avoid pressure treated lumber, as we hesitate to introduce poisons into the local environment.  We've also found that PT lumber can dry out and split in direct sunlight.

Dave and Sim replace some missing planks
On today's project, two sites were replacements of existing bog bridging where the planks had rotted off of the base timbers.  Four other sites received new bog bridging, as they are showing signs of widening.

Don and Greg set some step stones

At two other sites we added stepping stones leading on and off of an existing set of bog bridging.  This protects a slightly longer wet section not quite covered by the existing bridging.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Painting Upper Goose Pond Cabin

August 18th.  Paint for Upper Goose Pond Cabin.

This Saturday, we took advantage of the great weather to get started painting the exterior of the Cabin.  Dave, Don and Cosmo, plus Dave's granddaughter arrived a little after 9am with paint, brushes, scrapers and dropcloths ready to work on the west side of the Cabin.

Our long term plan is to paint one side a year, and we decided to start with the west side, as that sees the worst of the weather.

Don and Dave remove all the loose paint.
We started off scraping off any loose paint, there was quite a bit on the lower half of the wall, as the roof overhang kept the upper part fairly well protected.

Almost done.

Then we opened the paint.  This is all about RED.  We chose "Heritage Red", but this stuff looked even more brilliant out here that it did in the store.  We think it will weather to a slightly less brilliant hue.  The photo's show it a bit more orange than it really is.  The yellow splotches are sunlight coming through the trees.  It actually looks pretty nice, and it will be hard to miss in any weather conditions.

We were wrapped up about 2pm, we'll tackle the next side in 2013.

A thing of beauty.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Upper Goose Pond Cabin Access Gate

August 14, Access Gate Repairs--Upper Goose Pond Cabin

The gate at Rt 20 that controls vehicular access to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin Caretaker's trailhead has sagged to the point where it has not been able to lock for the past several years.

To control motorized access to the Cabin and adjacent AT Corridor lands, we received permission from MassHighway to restore the gate to lockable condition and install a combination lock.  The gate will normally be locked, except during deer hunting season, and the combination transmitted to UGPC Caretakers, and local emergency responders.  The combination can be changed as needed.  The gate does not impede foot travel.

This Tuesday, Pete and Cosmo brought a load of supplies and gear to the worksite.  Fortunately, we were able to drive close to the gate since we not only had the usual digging tools but a small concrete mixer, 700lbs of concrete mix and about 20 gallons of water.
The First Load

Once we got situated, we proceeded to dig out the ground around the hinge post of the gate.  We had originally thought that the post was just set into the ground, but soon found it had been set in concrete--'tho not nearly enough concrete to support the long swing arm of the gate.

While Cosmo made the initial excavation, Pete set a ground anchor to support a wire rope backstay that will help the hinge post stay vertical.
 Fortunately, digging was fairly easily, as the entire area was mostly sand.  This loose soil may have contributed to the sagging of the gate.
Excavation is Complete

While we thought this job would just be a simple re-setting of the hinge post to lift the gate arm, we found that the entire post needed to be scooched to the right about 1.5".  To do this, we set the chain fall between the hinge post and latch post and dragged the hinge side closer with a few quick tugs.

Stabilizing the excavated gate was a bit tricky, and we had a few bad moments as the thing tipped first one way then the other--no photos here, as we had our hands full keeping things together!

Finally we were ready to add fresh concrete to the post.
Pete tends the mixer

Filled to the top.  Note backstay by Pete's foot
After disposing of the first 8 bags, it was clear we were going to need more, so Cosmo headed off to town to pick up 6 more and another 5 gallons of water.  Upon his return, we mixed up the remaining batches and topped off the hole.

Pete sets a sign post.
A few "No Parking" signs between the gate and the road and we were ready to tidy up.  Don joined us for the final hour--he was away checking conditions at Race Brook Falls campsite.  It was quite a tiring day, despite the fact that we were able to park right at the worksite.  Those last 3-4 bags of concrete seemed to be much heavier than 80lbs each.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Beaver Deceiver......

Aah, those beavers, one must deceive them to avoid flooding the trail and our neighbors property along Rt 7 in Sheffield.  See Adam Brown's report on the mucky business below.

ATC was approached in late fall of 2011 by a business owner whose property abuts National Park Service AT land in Sheffield, MA.  He reported that beavers on the NPS side were flooding his construction yard and threatening to inundate his septic mound.  Both ATC and the AT Committee were aware that flooding was happening on the trail itself and had been in to take a look at the area to see if any immediate solution was available, but were not aware that a neighbor was being affected.  After some discussion between NPS and MA Fish and Wildlife, we came up with several options: do nothing, hire a trapper to remove the beaver and kill it for its pelt (the state does not allow for relocation), or hire a contractor to install a flexible pond leveler (also called a “beaver deceiver”) device.  The first option was likely to alienate the neighbor; the second was harmful to the beaver, so we settled on the third option in hopes of being able to co-exist peacefully with the beaver. 

ATC and the AT Committee pursued a grant through MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), as well as the appropriate town/state Wetlands Protection Act permits, that would allow for cost-free construction and installation of the device by Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions.  Below is a diagram and description of the device we installed.  We will plan to monitor the area over the fall and into next spring to see if it works.  When we installed it on Friday, water was very low due to the dry summer and the fact that the railroad company had recently replaced their culvert upstream in a way that prevents water at the current level from passing onto NPS land.  This will likely not be the case in a rainy year.   

Mostly Empty Pond, Beaver dam far side of mud hole!
Assemblying the Deciever

Floating the whole shebang into position
Submergence, ready for deception...

Readying the pipe for burial in the dam

So, here's how the whole thing works:

The Flexible Pond Leveler

Courtesy of Beaver Solutions LLC

May be reproduced

Where flooding from a free-standing beaver dam threatens human property, health or safety, a Beaver Solutions Flexible Pond Leveler™ pipe system can be an extremely effective solution. If properly designed and built, a Flexible Pond Leveler™ will create a permanent leak through the beaver dam that the beavers cannot stop. Our Flexible Pond Leveler™ devices are so effective we guarantee them. They eliminate the need for repeated trapping despite the presence of beavers.

Sorry folks, just can't figure out how to get the diagram to print in this space!

In order for these pipe systems to be effective, they must be designed so that beavers cannot detect the flow of water into the pipe. The Flexible Pond Leveler™ does this by surrounding the submerged intake of the pipe with a large cylinder of fencing. Beavers cannot get close enough to the intake to detect water movement. As a result, the beavers do not try to clog the pipe, and maintenance is rarely needed. A minimum pond depth of 3 feet is needed for the Flexible Pond Leveler™ to function properly.

The height of the pipe in the dam determines the pond level (see diagram). Water will flow through the pipe unless the pond level drops below the peak of the pipe. The pipe is set in the dam at the desired pond level, and can be adjusted up or down if desired.

Unlike road culverts, Flexible Pond Leveler™ pipes do not need to be sized to handle catastrophic storm events because heavy storm runoff will simply flow over the top of the dam. Following the storm the pipe will return the pond to the normal level. Some mild pond fluctuations are possible following very wet periods, but the pond will be controlled at a safe level since the dam height is controlled by the pipe.

When installing a pipe system it is very important to lower a pond only enough to protect human interests. The more a pond is lowered the more likely it is beavers will build a new dam to render the pipe ineffective. Lowering a beaver pond by up to one vertical foot is generally not a problem.

Whenever a pond must be lowered by more than one foot, a single round of trapping may be necessary prior to the flow device installation. When new beavers without the memory of the higher water level relocate to this area they are more likely to tolerate the smaller pond. Most Flexible Pond Leveler™ failures are due to new downstream damming in response to a dramatic lowering of the water level.

 So, there you have it!  Let's hope it works, and Adam, if you get a picture of the pond refilled with our recent rains with the elevation limited by the Beaver Deceiver, send it along and we'll add it to this post!

Great fun in the muck and mire!

Posted by Jim for Adam Brown