Saturday, March 12, 2011

Boardwalk Reconstruction -- An AHS Volunteer Project

The South Carolina Lowcountry Refuge Complex is home to four national wildlife refuges including Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge. With over 115,240 acres, these unique public lands encompass pristine barrier island beaches, rich salt marsh estuary and riverine ecosystems, and forested freshwater wetlands. Our week-long American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation was tasked with rebuilding an aging and deteriorating boardwalk leading to an observation area for endangered red wolves at the Sewee Visitor Center and Environmental Education Center.

Our first job was to laboriously remove 500+ old deck pieces, lug them back down the boardwalk, render the old nails safe, and load the wood on a trailer for recycling, or when the pieces were unusable, put them in a dumpster. Of course we had to immediately replace ripped up boards to maintain a walkway for our volunteers and for visitors heading to the wolf enclosure, so one crew ripped out boards, another replaced and tacked down replacement boards, and a third crew installed a toe rail to keep wheelchairs on the boardwalk.

Next we replaced the wood with composite decking which will have a longer lifetime...

...both on the boardwalk (above) and the red wolf observation platform (below)...

Here's the toe rail being installed...

Today, the only wild red wolf population is found in northeastern North Carolina in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge region. he four red wolves here are being rehabbed and one pair is mating, after which they will be transported to North Carolina. These captive wolves help to ensure the genetic diversity of the species.

The red wolf's name comes from the reddish coloring of the head, ears, and legs; its predominate coloring may range from very light tan to black. The wolf usually weighs between 45 to 80 pounds -- smaller than the gray wolf but larger than the coyote.

On our afternoon off, we were treated to a ferry ride out to Bull Island to hike around and see Alligator Alley. In the evening we enjoyed an oyster bake, and at noon on Friday, our talented and dedicated US Forest Service leader, Willie, cooked burgers and chicken wings for us. All these activities are on the movie linked to below.

Our intrepid volunteer carpenters (l to r):

Kneeling: Willie and Bob C.
Front row:  Lynn, Sarah, Michelle, Velma, Marilyn, Erin, and Katie
Back Row: Rebecca, Wayne, Mike, Bob W., our AHS crew leader Brian, and Steven.

Here's a video depicting all the work (and play) from our week together...

Additonal photos from the week are here.

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