The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) project to enhance the vernal pool at the North 40 with a boardwalk and a stone dust path will break ground any day now. A group of core volunteers will meet at the site Friday morning to assess site conditions and make plans for moving forward. The project, which was approved by the Wetlands Protection Committee and the Design Review Board, will feature a boardwalk and educational signage that will be accessible from Turner Rd., which is located off Weston Rd.
The North 40 Vernal Boardwalk Narrative put together by the NRC lays out the primary reasons for proposing the work. According to the Narrative, the main goals of the project are to improve accessibility to the North 40 for users of all abilities including those with limited mobility, young children, and users with strollers; enhance visitor access to the vernal pool while preventing user impacts to native vegetation; and allow visitors to experience the vernal pool and adjacent wetlands with a wildlife viewing.
In addition, the platform that will overlook the resource area is intended to improve the trail connection within the North 40 for use in all seasons; promote stewardship and appreciation for the Town’s other vernal pools; and guide visitors to stay on the path so that the site is conserved and protected from overuse (i.e.soil compaction, which is a disturbance that can encourage the growth of invasive species).
I checked in with NRC Director Brandon Schmitt for more info, and here’s what he said about the project:
The Swellesley Report: How long will the boardwalk be. What will be its start and end points?
Schmitt: The actual boardwalk is flanked on either side by a stone dust path similar to that at Fuller Brook park that runs from Turner Road to the North end of the Weston Rd. Community Gardens. The stone dust path sections were installed by the DPW this fall. Once the path enters the 100’ buffer zone around the Vernal pool, it will be a raised boardwalk that will travel approximately 400 feet.
SW: Who will build it?
Schmitt: Besides the aforementioned stone dust path that was installed by the Department of Public Works (DPW), the plan is for this to be a 100% volunteer led effort. There may be some finish work that may require the DPW’s expertise, but we anticipate the majority of work to be done by volunteers.
SW: What type of volunteer opportunities will be available for the project?
Schmitt: We will need volunteers to help construction of the board walk, including minimal brush clearing in areas, installation of the helical piers and framework, and then decking. We will also be looking for input on the educational signage. Interested volunteers can sign up either by contacting the NRC or through the Wellesley Rotary Club.
SW: When do you anticipate that it will be completed?
Schmitt: This is unclear at this point, as the weather will play a big factor, as well as the fact that we will need to halt construction in the spring so as not to affect the reptilian and amphibian residents of the pond.
SW: How is the project being funded?
Schmitt: This project was funded entirely by the Wellesley Community Preservation Committee (CPC), and we are very grateful for their support. The funding was completed in two stages. The CPC funded an initial $15,000 for design in FY18 and another $50,000 for construction this fiscal year. We did save funds by having the design completed free of charge by resident Bill Giezentanner, and expect the project to cost less than the total $65,000 that has been allocated.
SW: Do you anticipate that it will become part of the EcoCamp experience?
Schmitt: This is also unclear. We have not discussed this with the Wellesley Conservation council, but it’s definitely a possibility.