Volunteers Renovate Cedar Hollow Run Bridge

Visitors to Cedar Hollow Preserve will now can now complete the loop along Valley Creek and Cedar Hollow Run with greater security thanks to the hard work and skill of champion OLC volunteers Greg Sprissler, Bruce Shock and Steve Shock.  They teamed up with Preserve Manager Tim Magee and OLC VP Ray Clarke to replace one of the joists supporting the bridge over Cedar Hollow Run at its confluence with Valley Creek.

The bridge was built by Eagle Scout Jack Fields in 2010.  It consists of three 24 foot beams braced underneath and held together by the planks that form the top walking surface.  The bridge is shaded and subject to periodic flooding, so the beams and planks, even though pressure treated, are subject to rot.  The upstream joist was replaced a few years ago, and this year it was the turn of the center joist and a number of the top planks.

The team built the joists on site from 16 foot and 8 foot lengths of 2x10 beams they hauled down to the site.  The photographs show the team with the assembled joist on top of the bridge, and then, after the planks were removed, resting on its side on the right outer joist ready to be installed in place of the deteriorated joist on the left.  Tim and his hatchet were called into service to ensure a level surface for the back and knee-breaking work of installing the top boards.

The final photos show Greg, Tim and Ray with the finished bridge, looking as though they did all the work themselves, although it literally could not have been completed without the full team!

The Conservancy is grateful for all its volunteers, who do so much to sustain our precious open space and make it accessible for visitors to enjoy.

Americorps Team Restores Cedar Hollow Trail

Visitors to Cedar Hollow Preserve will have a much easier time hiking the loop trail along Valley Creek and Cedar Hollow Run thanks to the efforts of a hardworking team of Americorps volunteers on April 20th.

Last year's rains had soaked the ground where the trail runs through the woods from the iconic sycamore tree to Valley Creek, leaving a slippery and unpleasant stretch of mud and muck.  Preserve Manager Tim Magee envisioned and tested a solution: raise and restore the trail by relocating gravel from stormwater sediment in the Preserve upstream of the trail.  His pilot showed promise, but left us with the problem: how to move all that gravel and dirt?

To the rescue: Conservancy friend Kate Jensen who is managing a team of Americorps members at Valley Forge Park.  The team looks for opportunities outside their regular work to volunteer their free time for community organizations and Kate made the connection for us.  It turned out to be a perfect project: a combination of the young backs and energy from Americorps and great planning by Tim, so that everyone was focused and effective. Tim estimates that the team shoveled and moved by wheelbarrow at least three cubic yards of material.

The two wettest sections of that part of the trail should now drain more effectively and allow for easier, less sloppy travel.  And it was really gratifying that one of the Preserve's most frequent visitors happened to walk by during the work-in-progress and relayed her appreciation to the team.  Thanks to all for this great collaboration!

Conservancy Meadows receive their "Spring Cleaning"

Recent visitors to three of OLC's Preserves will notice a dramatic change as the meadows in Lorimer, Cool Valley and Cedar Hollow received their annual mowing on April 18th and 19th.  Mowing is an important component of our Preserve management plans.  It controls woody invasive vegetation such as multi-flora rose, olive and honeysuckle and makes space for herbaceous perennials such as goldenrod, milkweed and the occasional joe pye weed that grace the meadows in the summer.

Our neighbors in Valley Forge Park have been using prescribed fire in their meadows.  While that is an appealing natural process, it requires expensive professional expertise and is not a solution for the small Conservancy meadows, hemmed in by residences and woodlands.

So we rely on neighbors and professionals to mow the meadows in early Spring.  Although we have received excellent service from our contractor Lentzcaping in recent years, this year we found a supplier, All Seasons Landscaping of Acton, with equipment that is both voracious and speedy.  All Seasons clears roadside vegetation for PennDoT during the summer, and the side and rear flail mowers attached to a tractor make quick work of our meadows, too.

The only challenge came in the unusually wet south meadow in the Cedar Hollow Preserve.  The tractor proved too heavy for the saturated ground at the lowest point and had to be pulled from the mud by a tracked skid steer.  This was clearly not this first hiccup for long time All Seasons employee Bill Ruh, though. He was unfazed and finished both Cedar Hollow meadows as thoroughly and carefully as the others.

While All Seasons does the bulk of the Conservancy meadow mowing, we also recognize the service provided by long time neighbor Bud Coleman to mow the east Lorimer meadows and the contribution of neighbor and board member Art Blumenthal to the south meadow in Valley Creek Preserve.  Many thanks to all involved and to the members that make this possible!