It will soon be a little easier to enjoy the unique wetlands on the Branford Land Trust’s Red Hill Woods property after a wooden “bog walk” is created to span a portion of the site.
The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) unanimously approved a permit to build a 1,200-foot boardwalk that will loop through a floodplain area and cross a 5-foot stream. Construction is expected to begin in April, and will rely on work by Land Trust members and other community volunteers.
“This is really a unique wetland,” said local environmentalist Bill Horne as he presented the request at an IWC meeting last week.
Horne (pictured), who is a member of the Land Trust’s advisory board, said the walkway will provide people with direct access while protecting the wetlands. “We’d like to make it available in a controlled way.” He said this will be “a really great educational asset” for adults and school-age children.
The 29-acre site, which was purchased last year, features coastal forests, floodplains, streams, vernal ponds, and a Native American rock shelter. Horne said 17 different species of ferns have been identified on the site.
Horne said the floodplains and a large vernal pool “provide an unusual and valuable educational resource that will enhance the public’s understanding of wetland communities and their roles in a well-functioning environment and contribution to protecting water quality.”
The Land Trust has sponsored several walks on the property, including the first official one on July 2.
A Special Place
The land is located at the end of Red Hill Road on the eastern end of town, south of I-95 and north of the 406-acre Stony Creek Quarry Preserve which is owned by the town of Branford. The property connects to walking trails in the Branford Trail system, connecting to the Stony Creek Quarry Preserve trails and to Westwoods Trails in Guilford.
The Land Trust purchased the Red Hill Woods property from the Warner and Hull families. A state grant toward the purchase was received from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; and the Land Trust conducted a successful donation drive.
“We’ve already been hard at work on the property,” Horne told the commission. Additional hiking trails were created, and Matt Reid, a member of the Land Trust’s board of directors, has spearheaded a clean-up of the property. More than 50 large bags of trash were removed, and about 30 tires.
The wooden bog walk will be the same construction as a smaller one that was built last year. Horne said the walk will include 12-ft sections of two hemlock boards supported by three notched cedar logs per section. The boards will be secured to cedar logs with stainless steel screws and the sections secured to the underlying soil using metal pins. He said the bog walk will cross the stream at two places on bridges supported by short cribs constructed of cedar or white oak logs secured with metal pins.
The IWC commissioners asked a few questions, and then voted to approve the project.