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Wetlands flood recovery update as of March 2021

Hello Forest members, guests and all Wetlands fans!

by Michelle Foss, Director of Resource Stewardship

A picture of a wetland with a white ribbon containing the text: "WETLANDS UPDATE" in green.

We wanted to share a quick update on the progress on the flood reconstruction efforts happening in the Wetlands and an updated timeline on completion.

Construction in the Wetlands was delayed by the deep snow and very cold temperatures earlier this year, which was then followed by sudden warming. Due to this unusual weather, we submitted a time extension request to FEMA.

Why did this unusual weather cause a delay?

Because of the extreme cold (during which equipment and people can’t work), and near-record snow, our construction has been delayed by about two weeks. Unfortunately, this translates to closer to a six-week delay because the frost is coming out of the ground. While this is happening, the abundance of mud makes it both unsafe, and out of compliance with Army Corps of Engineers’ guidance with regard to minimizing disruptions to wetland areas. All of our project areas require moving equipment through delineated wetlands. In the original timeline, the wetlands would have been frozen, so the impact would have been lower, but due to this delay, it pushed work into the thawing period.

However, we are excited to share that the end is in sight! At this point in time, we are expecting the projects to be completed by the end of April.

Specific project progress reports:

Observation Blind – This project is approximately 90% complete. The topsoil, boulders, and barrier for erosion control work have been placed, and replacement of the boardwalk section linking the boardwalk and the observation blind is all that remains. Finishing touches include seeding post-construction and rehabilitation of the access path.

Boardwalk – This part is about 75% complete. The boardwalk has been removed, and new sections built, as well as replacing some of the sections. Installing the rest of the sections on the ground is all that remains.

Docks – This part is about 85% complete. The pond dock is nearly complete, we recovered the entire dock, and all that remains is to fit the decking back on the floats. It is in place. We still need to put in the canoe dock on the marsh.

Bridge – This part is 0% complete. The bridge was pushed back to allow the ground to freeze to make it easier to install, but with the significant snowfall, the ground didn’t freeze until just before the record cold, where the equipment wouldn’t run. The bulk of the delay is in this section. Once they can get in and work, this part should take about two weeks. Staging of supplies and equipment is in progress.

Once the construction projects are complete, we will be able to get back into the floodplain trails to mow and open for the season.

The anticipated date to reopen the Wetlands to the public is May 15. That said, please continue to respect all closures until a public announcement has been made.

We promise you won’t be able to miss the reopening announcement because we will shout it from the rooftops! We appreciate your patience, and hope to get things open as quickly as possible!

a stack of boardwalk sections in the snow. It has the text, "Boardwalk sections built: 100% of the boardwalk sections have been built. These are awaiting installation." a picture of trees and snow. It has the text, "Boardwalk sections in place: Snow-covered sections were put in before the big snow. As of March 2, about 30% of the boardwalk had been installed."

a pile of boulders. It has the text, "Erosion control boulders east side: On the east - facing side of the observation blind. the erosion control barrier and boulders had been placed. As of March 2. the fill dirt and topsoil have been added." a person standing on a pile of rock in the snow. It has the text, "Erosion control boulders west side: Our contracter is standing on built-out land talking about the erosion control boulders and how they help to mitigate wave action erosion from the Great Marsh."

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