The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission. This volunteer internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities. Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, help preserve loon populations on Squam, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed. Learn more about the internship program here.
August 5, 2016
Trail work is one of the more grueling tasks that we interns get to perform for the Squam Lakes Association. It requires us to carry loppers, fire rakes, pick mattocks and other heavy tools up and down our 50 miles of trails in order to keep them in good working condition for public use. Last Thursday, I worked with a couple other interns on maintaining the Crawford Ridgepole Trail in preparation for the Squam Ridge Race taking place in September. We worked for about five hours and made it from where Old Mountain Road connects to the Crawford Ridgepole Trail to a little before Webster Mountain’s summit. This five hours of work out, was only about a 45-minute hike back to our starting location.
This is one of the main problems that arises with trail work: time. Going on a normal hike, even carrying all the supplies, takes a fraction of the time that the same hike takes while working. Last Thursday we had the benefit of working on the ridge where there were no water bars that needed clearing. Water bars are set up on slopes to direct water off the trail. Even though we haven’t had the pleasure of doing this yet, these water bars have to be set up by hand, digging deep holes and placing heavy rocks into them.
All the trails the SLA is in charge of maintaining cannot be managed just by the SLA staff alone. This is why we try our best as interns to work with our supervisors and coordinate with Brian, our volunteer coordinator, when we go out to work on trails. Having volunteers to help out not only makes the work load easier on everyone, but it also enables us to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. If three people working could cover about two miles of trail work in five hours, just imagine what simply a few volunteers could help us to achieve.
Properly maintained trails help direct hikers so that they don’t become lost, and limits the possibility of hikers walking off-trail and over the vegetation in the area. This is good for both small ferns and mosses, but also larger trees. If foot traffic is allowed to surround a tree, the dirt wears thin, and exposes the root system. Then the hikers will walk directly on top of the roots, slowly causing damage to them, and the tree as a whole. Trail work helps maintain the integrity of the natural landscape for all of us to enjoy.
Maggie G. was born and raised in Rumney, NH and is now a Senior attending the State University of New York at Oswego, NY.