Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve reopened a section of the preserve with a newly designed boardwalk. The preserve is a wetland that contains endangered species such as Indiana bats and rare orchids. Led by Chris Fox, Sycamore Land Trust's land stewardship manager, a team of workers and volunteers worked to build a new boardwalk.
The boardwalk was described by Fox as, “basically a dock,” with plastic composite- type decking. The overall trail is roughly a mile and a half, with nearly half a mile of the dock system. Some of the trail contains a “bog boardwalk” that is described as mainly wood to create elevation.
The construction of the first boardwalk trail in Beanblossom Bottoms started in 2005. After the wooden boardwalk went through sunlight exposure and heavy flooding, a new design was introduced for the trail.
The preserve wanted to aim for a safer boardwalk that would last longer, said Fox. With rigged slots for water drainage, the new boardwalk is designed to endure flooding while maintaining environment sensitivity.
“It is is designed to let vegetation grow through it," Fox said.
During construction, the working crew did not know how long the new boardwalk would take to complete. They started July 9, 2018, and completed the work nearly 11 months later.
"Every day my crew and I were in the water," Fox said, when discussing difficulties and setbacks.
Machinery was not used during the project to maintain the preserve, and the crew was sensitive to the environment during the entire building process.
The new boardwalk opened to the public March 18. Due to the lack of railing, it gives trailgoers a sense of openness to the surrounding wildlife.
“What I like about this design of this surface is it makes you feel like you’re walking on water," Fox said.