Local volunteers and contractors are working to keep the Trail in good condition for its users.
To keep the vegetation at bay the entire 35 miles of Trail in Merrimack County was mowed in August by Andover resident Jim Shaw as contracted. Our plan is to do this mowing on an annual basis. In the spring, FNRT-MC contracted with a fully licensed company to help control vegetation in one 6 mile area in Franklin to keep it, especially poison ivy, from overtaking the Trail. A parallel effort to combat vegetation encroachment is being undertaken with goats. Later this Fall, the effectiveness of these two approaches will be evaluated. Plans call for goats to be tried again on emergent poison ivy growth this coming Spring.
This fall we have contracted with Rodney Judkins of Franklin to repair bridge railings on three bridges in Andover. Alerted by FNRT-MC, the Andover Snowmobile Club replaced planking on two Andover bridges early in the summer. Holes had developed large enough to trip up a horse or a bicycle.
Ricker Miller of Andover worked in early summer with Mark Thompson Excavating to restore the railroad ditch near the Fire Station in East Andover to keep water flowing alongside rather than across the Trail. They flushed out an old drain at the crossing of Channel road to carry the water away.
Jon Champagne of Andover has been contracted to clean a number of culverts in Andover and Danbury and restore ditching near them. Flowing water is the enemy of the Trail, as it erodes the hard pack surface that we put down over the past ten years. We laid 4 inches of hardback and then with a vibratory roller compacted it down to 1 inch. It is our intention to keep this surface intact.
The Northern Railroad did an impressive job originally of engineering ditches and culverts to keep water from eroding the rail bed, now the Trail, but over the years since rail service ended in the 1970’s culverts have become blocked and ditches have been filled with silt. We hope that with annual maintenance we will be able to keep up with Nature’s changes to the Trail.
In the meantime trees have been uprooted by storms and fallen across the Trail. FNRT-MC volunteers Steve Robinson of Danbury and Prescott Towle of Epson have been very quick to get out with their chain saws to remove them.
With severe storms becoming the norm we assume this kind of maintenance work will continue into the future, and we are planning for it.