Thursday, June 25, 2015

Boardwalks Get an Upgrade...

One of the benefits of working on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO) is that access to our field sites is relatively easy thanks to several kilometers of existing boardwalk and trail mat. This network of walkways was installed in 2005 in support of the NSF-sponsored Biocomplexity Experiment. Since that time the combination of raised wooden boardwalks and trail mat has protected the tundra from repeated foot traffic. Beginning in 2012, the NGEE Arctic project has added to this infrastructure especially in support of accessing our intensive study sites that distributed across the tundra.
Heavy use of the boardwalk and trail mat by countless scientists who walk these trails daily has taken its toll, and certain sections of the trail were in need of repair. The boardwalk was unlevel and some of the trail mat was under water.

Last fall, and earlier this spring UIC Science, landlords of the BEO, made a commitment to upgrading the trail. A crew led by Araina Danner certainly did their homework and the trail is vastly improved since last year. All raised boardwalks have been leveled and made straight, and trail mat rerouted in an attempt to avoid standing water. The end result is a much better surface for walking back and forth from the field sites. Because of this there is a noticeable absence of disturbance along the trail such as was beginning to be a problem towards last fall.

Nice job by Araina and others with UIC Science who helped make those improvements possible.