Phase 1 of trails improvements at Arms Forest have been completed! Working from 7/6-7/24 our contractor, Timber and Stone LLC, completed the project in a mere three weeks, roughly half the time we had anticipated. We’re very pleased with the quick timeline and the quality of the finished trails.
This first phase of construction has made some key upgrades focused on trail-sustainability, aimed at keeping people on the trails to protect the surrounding vegetation while shedding water off the trails to keep everything dry and create a smoother walking and rolling surface.
With this first phase wrapped up, our staff will be working on planning for Phase 2 over the coming fall and winter.
In the meantime, here are some highlights from the project:
Multiple trails have been regraded and built up with a stone surfacing to improve drainage. Eventually parts of these will be expanded to create the first universally accessible trail in the City.
A short reroute including a new bridge stretches over a wet area of the forest.
A stretch of boardwalk crosses a low-lying wet area, providing a dry trail for hikers and bikers, which protects the surrounding vegetation from ‘tread-widening’ (people going off trail to try and find dry footing).
Another trail re-route goes around a rock-outcropping in the forest, moving traffic away from an area with sensitive plants. The former trail was ‘revegetated’ (covered over with leaf litter and logs from on-site. Can you find the old trail in this picture? Neither can we…
Summer 2021 Trailwork Begins
Scope of work has been finalized. Details include: reroutes, construction of small boardwalks, and widening and formalization of the primary trail trough the park, all with the intent of creating a more sustainable trail network that keeps people on the trails and water off of them. Work will begin July 6 and is expected to be ongoing for 6-8 weeks. Some trails will be marked as closed throughout the project.
BPRW and Timber and Stone held a kick-off meeting in early April to review on-site conditions and begin the detailed design of the first phase of trail construction at Arms Forest. Our team walked a nearly 3000-foot-long section of trail that curves through the center of the forest, looking over the most challenging sections of the trail, reviewing the scope of work along each section, and highlighting areas with sensitive vegetation that will need to be avoided during construction. Next, Timber and Stone is detailing design options and considerations discussed during the kick-off and will flag out each area for our staff to review in the field in Late April. Once all design decisions and the final scope of work are finalized, we expect construction to begin in Late June or early July, and to be ongoing for a period of 2-3 weeks. We expect to close segments of this trail while the work is ongoing to reduce the risk of injury for the public from construction vehicles and temporary construction conditions.
Arms Forest Trail Design Complete!
Final work and the resulting plans for Arms Forest Trails wrapped up in late January. Since then, we sent the documents for a final review by adjacent landowners and project partners—Rock Point, North Avenue Alliance Church, Burlington High School, and the Lake Champlain Land Trust—in mid-late March with the hope of releasing the final documents publicly before beginning trail work. However, the timing coincided with COVID-19, creating a delay in the final review. To prevent damage to some of the sensitive spring plants in the most ecologically diverse areas of the Park, our conservation team began implementing the trail closures outlined in the plan.
Read the full report and final plan documents (links to the PDF reader on Issuu):
Without any further ado, below is a summary and highlights from the plan:
Preferred Trail Concept
The preferred trail concept aims to create an ecological improvement to the site, ensuring sustainable public access, maintaining connectivity to the Greenway and North Avenue, and serving the needs of the high school cross-country team, educational programming, and other community users of the forest. Trails that were determined to not be well-designed, constructed or located will be rerouted and trails that unduly impacted natural resources will be closed for reclamation. Low impact, low key signage is in the works to provide management information and interpretation, so rules and protections are adequately understood and followed. The design of the trails, signage and other improvements are intended to direct users in appropriate areas of the forest and prevent users from going off trail and creating new unsanctioned trails and pathways.
Given the feedback heard throughout the project and the unique ecological environment, the scale of bicycle use is limited to the main pathways through the forest (Universal Access and Natural Surface Interpretive Trails) from this point forward. The biking experience provided by the preferred concept will be very different than how the trail network was historically used. There may be an opportunity to open some of the proposed hiking-only trails to be multi-use trails in the future if initial trail reroutes, closures, and efforts to ensure compliance with policies are successful.
Phase I Implementation
This spring, our conservation team started closing trails as called for in Phase I of our trails plan. You may have noticed signage indicating closures of various trails around the forest along with small barricades. Please help protect many of the rare plants and wildlife that make their home within Arms Forest by staying off these decommissioned trails.
Simultaneously, we are working on creating a request for proposal (RFP)to hire a contractor to reroute the trails that traverse the steep grades coming down the hill from the High School and to widen and stabilize the tread in places along the main trail (#1 on the map below). A final timeline for construction will be determined once a contractor is selected.
In the near future, we will be developing and installing signage to help people navigate the forest, clarifying trail types and usage, and educating about the rare ecological and cultural history of Arms Forest. Please feel free to share any spring wildflower or wildlife pictures from Arms and check back with our website or follow us on social media for future updates!
Trail Concepts Public Meeting & Online Survey
Thanks to everyone who joined us at the Miller Center for the public workshop on October 17! For those of you that couldn’t join us, we’ve put together an online survey that presents the trail master plan concepts we’ve developed for you to give us your feedback. The survey was available through November 21, 2019 so folks that couldn’t make the in-person could share their thought about the trail network at Arms Forest.
One year ago, a coalition was formed to protect the integrity of the ecology at Arms Forest and Rock Point. Members of the Rock Point and Arms Forest Coalition include: Burlington Parks Recreation and Waterfront, Burlington Conservation Board, Killarney Drive Inc., Fellowship of the Wheel, The Parks Foundation of Burlington, John and Jane Ewing, The Elks Club of Burlington, North Avenue Alliance Church, The Arms Family, The Lake Champlain Land Trust, The Episcopal Diocese, and Burlington Parks Recreation and Waterfront Commission.
The coalition is in the process of gathering scoping information about Arms Forest. This survey is one of the steps in this process. Other things underway in this scoping process are: a comprehensive Ecological Assessment, gathering of use data using trail counters, and a community meeting tentatively scheduled for later this fall. All of the information gathered through these various methods will be used to inform trail and way finding design and implementation. Our overall objective of this process is to increase protection of the valuable ecological attributes of the Arms Forest.