Reducing impacts to vegetation and wildlife under boardwalks
Wetlands are of great interest to students, teachers, scientists, and the general public, but few individuals venture into them due to the dense vegetation, standing water and deep organic soils. A few enter with canoes or waders. An alternative and more convenient means of access—boardwalks and trails—are needed by the rest.
Most people don't worry about vegetation under boardwalks. Every other kind of trail has a bigger impact on drainage, plants, etc.
Since there isn't much information on vegetation under boardwalks, here's a few tips for helping to reduce impact on vegetation you are trying to preserve:
Reducing impacts to vegetation and wildlife
How can the impacts of boardwalks and trails upon vegetation and wildlife be reduced? The Association of State Wetland Mangers, Inc. guide Constructing Wetland Boardwalks and Trails recommends a variety of measures for reducing impacts:
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's (FWS) manages a full range of habitat types – wetlands; prairies; coastal and marine areas; temperate, tundra and boreal forests. Managing these habitats is a complex web of controlling or eradicating invasive species, using fire in a prescribed manner, assuring adequate water resources, and assessing external threats like development or contamination. Refuge managers in your state may have a lot of experience with boardwalk design as well as the trade-offs between public access, environmental education, and impacts. A full list of refuges is available on the FWS website.
Each state has a trails program typically offered through the state's State Parks Division or Parks and Wildlife. The trails administrator may also be aware of similar projects that may have been funded or visited within your state. Our Resources by State page explores training, articles, organization, and authors by state.
Attached document published October 2011
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