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Boardwalk in a Swamp

  • Location: West Rutland
  • Year completed: 2021
  • Project areas: Trails Project
  • Partner: Audubon

In the West Rutland Marsh, a 900-foot boardwalk makes it possible for nature lovers to view abundant bird life and a unique ecosystem.

Audubon Vermont was our partner and sponsor for this project; they are committed to protecting this breeding area for rare and priority birds.
The boardwalk is flat but the learning curve was steep. The crew spent six weeks working in the cedar swamp. Corps Member Angelo describes the project:  

“You encounter puzzles when working on a carpentry project in a swamp. A question we asked for a week-and-a-half: What is the best way to put a wooden frame into a swamp? We were working in murky water and had to find a way to get posts into holes we couldn’t see, within a limited margin of error as the stability of the boardwalk was at stake.  

“We had to install the frames uniformly, every time. It took probably eight sections before we figured out how to do it. Constructing the H-frame once the posts were in the ground didn’t work. The best method was to build the frame, then install it.  

“But it wasn’t easy.  

“Two people wearing big waders would measure out from the last frame, and poke a stick into the mud where the posts would go. Two others would lug the motorized auger into the water (careful to NOT get the motor wet!) and dig the holes and re-mark with the sticks. We’d send someone out to the cutting station to say how long to cut the stringers. Meanwhile, another set of people would assemble the H-frame on the closest piece of built boardwalk.   

“The frame was so heavy. Some took four people to carry. We used heavy post-pounders on both poles simultaneously to pound it into the holes we made.   

“From there, it was smooth sailing! Install stringers and decking, and we’d say, ‘hooray we have more boardwalk to walk on!’

“When you visit, if you are looking for it, you can actually see how our methods improved from the start to the end. At the beginning of the boardwalk, you will see variations in width and that it’s not perfectly level.   

“It’s being used daily, and it’s part of the town.  

“This project felt so worthwhile to me. It felt personal. The community was full-on supportive of us. In moments of frustration, I’d go back to the camp kitchen to take a break. There would be brownies there on the table that somebody had brought. Imagine sitting there, frustrated with your project; yet people are so happy you’re there and they see you and they want to help you. And I’d think, ‘Why would I want to do anything else right now?’ It’s so gratifying.“ 

Angelo Trevisani shares, “The project was one of the most defining things I’ve ever done. I have never had a project where, every day I get up and work on one thing all day.” 

Find It

The West Rutland Marsh is part of the Castleton River. Access the trailhead on Marble Street, north of the intersection with Water Street.