Orono bog boardwalk opening pushed back to July

Renovations to the Orono Bog Boardwalk are taking longer than originally planned. While the improved boardwalk was at first scheduled to open on June 15, the volunteer work crews are now aiming for a July 20 opening.

051513bogwalk-7.jpg“It’s just taking longer than we anticipated,” said Jim Bird, director of the Orono Bog Boardwalk. “We’ve spent probably over 700 person hours over the past 8 weeks putting [the new sections] in.”

The Orono Bog Boardwalk — a mile-long wooden boardwalk that begins at the forested wetland edge of the Rolland F. Perry City Forest in Bangor and crosses the town line into the University of Maine-owned part of the peat bog in Orono — first opened in 2003. Since then, it has been visited by almost 300,000 people.

Over time, moisture, fungus, foot traffic and weather has started to break down the wooden structure. So in response, the boardwalk management team is replacing the cedar decking with a more durable material — composite decking, cladded aluminum siding and stainless steel footings.

The project is split into three phases: sections 1-105, sections 106-250, and sections 251-509. This spring and summer volunteers are only completing the Phase I, which cost approximately $223,000 in donations.

Phase I — sections 1-105 — is from the start of the boardwalk to the Bangor-Orono town line, where the boardwalk loop begins. The majority of this section is shaded by trees and lined with cinnamon fern, skunk cabbage and other plants that thrive in saturated environments.

“The boardwalk is the worst shape underneath the shade,” Bird said. “That’s where a lot of the fungus is.”

To date, most of the new, composite sections have been placed down by about 50 volunteers, Bird said, but it will still take about three weeks to have bends in the boardwalk custom built. Each angle is different because the original boardwalk was constructed to accommodate nature by skirting trees and delicate plant communities.

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.

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.

They decided to build the new boardwalk on the same path to minimize disruption to the environment.

“It’s really something,” Bird said. “The new part is just so nice and stable.”

Approximately 60 percent of the funds for Phase II, estimated to cost $298,000, have been raised so far. Then it will be on to Phase III, which will cost an estimated $540,000.

The boardwalk is usually open to visitors for free from May 1 through late November. As an ADA facility, it is fully accessible to those using wheelchairs or pushing strollers.

To learn more and to donate to the Boardwalk Campaign, visit www.oronobogwalk.org.



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.