Orono Bog Boardwalk undergoing facelift, opening late this year

Spring is marked by blooming daffodils, returning songbirds, open car windows, and for many Bangor-area residents, the May opening of the Orono Bog Boardwalk, where people can enjoy one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the area. But this year, that won’t be the case.

051513bogwalk-7.jpgDue to a major reconstruction project, the boardwalk opening has been delayed until June 15, weather permitting.

Volunteers are currently hard at work preparing to replace 105 sections of the boardwalk’s old cedar decking with composite decking, cladded aluminum siding and stainless steel footings, thus completing Phase I of the Boardwalk Campaign to replace the mile-long wooden boardwalk with more durable material.

The boardwalk management team is now in Phase II of a campaign to raise funds for sections 106 to 250, plus two interpretative stations and three wheelchair turn-outs. Phase III is to raise funds to reconstruct the remainder of the boardwalk.

CONSERVCORP110213_1_KB_11561779Since it opened in June 2003, the boardwalk, which is free for people to use, has been visited by almost 300,000 people. As an ADA facility, the boardwalk is fully accessible to those using wheelchairs or pushing strollers.

Every year, natural history specialists and volunteer guides lead numerous free tours and group programs at the boardwalk. In past years scheduled walk topics have included birds, wildflowers, insects, dragonflies, poetry, hydrology, plant adaptations, mosses, sedges and liverworts. School groups from preschool through university level, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, garden clubs and others have taken advantage of the free educational opportunity.

Seven interpretive stations are located along the boardwalk to inform visitors about the plant and animal life to be found in this unusual wetland habitat, and the kiosk at the beginning of the boardwalk helps explain the geological processes that formed the Orono Bog. Some of the highlights of the bog are several species of orchids, cotton-grass, carnivorous pitcher plants and sundews, highbush blueberries, skunk cabbage and cranberries.

Jointly managed by the Orono Land Trust, the City of Bangor and the University of Maine, the boardwalk is operated entirely by volunteers, who serve as tour guides, maintenance workers or docents who greet visitors and answer their questions. Training is provided for all volunteer positions. Maintenance, tour guide and docent training will be held before the boardwalk opens for the season. To volunteer, contact joan.martin@umit.maine.edu (include “Orono Bog Boardwalk” in the subject line). Students seeking to fulfill service-learning requirements are encouraged to consider becoming an Orono Bog Boardwalk volunteer.

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. The Orono Bog Boardwalk is slick with rain at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1, the boardwalk's opening day and 10th anniversary.

Those wishing to support the Boardwalk Campaign can make checks payable to the University of Maine Foundation, indicating “Boardwalk Campaign” on the memo line. Donations can be mailed to the foundation at Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792. Donations can also be made online at the secure website umainefoundation.org/onlinegiving/index.html by designating “Orono Bog Boardwalk 2010 Campaign” on the support line.

Updated information about the boardwalk and its opening date will be posted at www.oronobogwalk.org. For further information, email Orono Bog Boardwalk Director Jim Bird at jim.bird@umit.maine.edu or call him at 581-1697.


Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.