Long Distance Trails Crew and MEVO join forces to repair and improve footbridge in Ramapo Mountain State Forest built by Eagle Scout
Text by Bob Fuller/Marty Costello/David Booth, pictures by Marty Costello, members of the Long Distance Trails Crew
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?
Maybe. But if a tree falls on a small wooden footbridge, it will definitely break it.
The bridge crossing High Meadow Brook in Ramapo Mountain State Forest is a prime example. Constructed in 2005 by Dan Loughrey as his Eagle Scout Project with Scout Troop 96, the bridge weathered many storms until April of this year, when a falling tree crashed right through it.
The subsequent repair of this bridge is an excellent model of the Trail Conference’s collaborative method of operation. The damage was first reported by a member of the public via nynjtc.org. The issue was forwarded to New Jersey Program Coordinator Peter Dolan, who brought it to the attention of the local Trail Chair Karen Schoof, Ringwood Supervisor Gene Giordano, and Park Superintendent Eric Pain. They determined a course of action, which included contacting the all-volunteer Long Distance Trails Crew (LDTC), whose members are experienced in bridge repair. The LDTC agreed to scout the site and develop a materials list while Dolan worked to secure park assistance and funding for the required materials.
Based on work needs, a second volunteer crew—the Ramapo Earth Crew of the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO)—was brought in to assist the LDTC. Local residents were informed about the upcoming work, and the community beach agreed to allow volunteers to park in their lot to free up space by the work site. State park staff delivered materials to volunteers who carried everything to site—and then the dirty work began. The goal: full bridge reconstruction in a single weekend.
The Long Distance Trails Crew arrived on the scene on Friday, August 7, to dismantle the damaged bridge section. Loughrey, a recipient of the Trail Conference’s Next Generation Award, also showed up to help with the reconstruction of the bridge he originally built. All usable decking and hardware was salvaged and reused during the rebuild, which kicked into high gear on Saturday, when the Ramapo Earth Crew arrived. They helped carry lumber and tools to the work site before dividing into teams to cut joists, size and prepare deck planks, improve tread way, and firmly reset the bridge’s abutment. The crew also made crush, one of the most enjoyable aspects of trail building. There is just something therapeutic about swinging a sledgehammer and crushing those rocks into smaller pieces. It’s tough, the hammer is heavy, but somehow, it just brings a smile to your face.
Before the sun set we reached our goal and everyone took pride and satisfaction in a job done well. High Mountain Brook will be passable for years to come.
If you’d like to join the Long Distance Trails Crew for an outing, they’re on the trails many weekends throughout the season. No experience is necessary; the crew provides on-the-job training and guarantees a fun and rewarding day for volunteers at any skill level. Contact Crew Chief Chris Reyling at 914-953-4900, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Crew Leader Bob Fuller at 732-952-2162, email@example.com for more information.