Pilot Year of Teen Trail Crews on the Bay Circuit Trail!

The volunteers trail program grows every year, and one of those new branches on the volunteer trails tree was the pilot program for Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) teen crews. During my AmeriCorps service as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the BCT, I tackled the planning, execution, and reflection for these two weeks of crews (with much help and support, of course!) There were months of meetings, talking about the big and small details, scouting projects, ordering materials, logistical planning, coordination with our partners, and more.

The crew enjoying their lunch
After much anticipation, the non-residential program ran from July 13th – July 17th. We partnered with Old Colony YMCA of Brockton and worked with a group from a local middle school. For four hot, gypsy-moth-filled days we worked on the BCT-connector trail at Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, MA. The crew installed timber check steps to combat the heavily eroded trail, and installed two timber water bars to direct water off the trail. We were lucky to have organic strawberries and carrots hiked in to us by farm staff from Moose Hill, as well as have one of their staff do an afternoon nature walk with our group. On Friday, the crew did a half day of basic maintenance of the BCT in Easton, MA, and then took the afternoon off to explore DCR’s Borderland State Park.

Preparing to set the timber waterbar
One of four new check steps
The crew learning how to build our boardwalk
With one short day of rest, I prepared to lead the overnight basecamp teen crew. We had a full crew of nine participants camped at Lorraine Campground at DCR's Harold Parker State Forest. Our project was to re-route the BCT off its current path of an unstable, poison-ivy covered stone wall. We installed ~100 feet of boardwalk to traverse the stream and surrounding wet area the stone wall crossed, providing a safer, much more enjoyable and sustainable crossing. The group did an outstanding job despite the hot, humid weather and ever-present poison ivy. On our last day we switched gears and did general maintenance on three miles of trail at The Trustees or Reservation's Ward Reservation in Andover, MA, then enjoyed the afternoon at the solstice stones on Holt Hill.
Digging holes for our base logs - many rocks to be moved!
Two new sections of boardwalk
Working through the ups and downs of a pilot program can be a challenge, but our experiences and reflections will be immensely helpful for the continuation of the program in years to come. Not to mention, much-needed improvements were made to the trail and will help improve users experience and protect the trail and surrounding environment. Trail work isn’t always the most important part, though, and, as always, my favorite part of each week was watching teens spend time outdoors, work as a team, learn something new, and gain an appreciation for the natural world.

On another note, this will be my last post about BCT, but there will be more posts from others to come! My AmeriCorps term with the Bay Circuit Trail came to an end in early August, but I am happy to be joining the Professional Trail Crew in Maine for the fall. Happy trails!
**P.S. AMC/BCT worked with Friends of North Andover Trails to get a team of local volunteers together on Monday, 8/24. Thanks to their hard work, the remaining 30 feet of boardwalk across the stream is complete. The new & improved section is open for your enjoyment!