Federal grant to help with trail work in woods, park

JAFFREY — With the acceptance of a federal grant by the Select Board on Monday, the Jaffrey Conservation Commission is poised to pair up with a national volunteer group to renovate existing trails for hikers in the town-owned Children’s Woods and Carey Park.

Following a perfunctory public hearing on the issue Monday, the board voted to accept unanticipated revenue in the form of a Recreational Trails Program Grant. The grant can be used for maintenance and restoration of existing trails, and the construction of new recreational trails.

The grant will provide an additional $8,089 to create trails in the Children’s Woods and Carey Park in Jaffrey. The grant is part of funds made available by the U.S. Department of Resources and Economic Development, Bureau of Trails, and is funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The Conservation Commission was required to match 20 percent of the grant, which it will do through its regular budget, said Conservation Commission Chair Carolyn Garretson in an interview Wednesday.

Children’s Woods has been under the purview of the Conservation Commission since 1936, when it was bequeathed by Albert Annett, who wished that the land would continue to be used to study natural history. Annett intended the land to be used primarily by children, as part of their education in nature study. In total, Children’s Woods is 28 acres.

The 100-acre Carey Park abuts the land to its south, and was donated to the town in 1972, by the Jaffrey Outing Club. Among its features is a red pine plantation and a small forested wetland.

The Jaffrey Conservation Commission will be pairing with the Student Conservation Association, a national organization that deploys teenagers, ages 15 to 19, to work in parks, public lands and urban green spaces to make improvements, and learn conservation and sustainability practices. The student volunteers will assist in cleaning up the trails in the area of Children’s Woods and Carey Park.

“People probably don’t know about the Student Conservation Association, which is a fabulous program,” noted Garretson. “It’s a wonderful conservation focus training program.”

The Student Conservation Association will be in Jaffrey between Sept. 21 and Oct. 3, and will help with maintenance of the existing trails, repair a bridge which was damaged by a fallen tree, put in place erosion control measures, and survey the area to locate the habitat of an endangered wood turtle, which is known to populate the Children’s Woods. During their stay, association members will camp at Monadnock State Park.

Currently, there are two trails on the property, one through Children’s Woods and one through Carey Park, both of which are maintained by the Conservation Commission and regularly used by local school groups. The trails were blazed by David Edscorn, a local Eagle Scout, in 2007. The trails are available for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Garretson said the Conservation Commission hopes to apply for a similar grant next year to continue work on trails on another town conservation property in the Cheshire Pond area.

The Conservation Commission originally hoped to do the work on the Cheshire Pond trails at the same time as the Children’s Woods and Carey Park trails, but the Cheshire Pond trails were too badly damaged by off-road vehicles that have been using the trail, despite motorized vehicles not being allowed in the area, said Garretson.

Children’s Woods and Carey Park are accessible via the Rail Trail in Jaffrey or from Stratton Road.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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