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Bank erosion prevention efforts are working

Photo by Jack Ledbetter

The Preserve is grateful to all of you who are doing your part to minimize bank erosion at Little Long Pond. It may be that you no longer encourage your dog to traipse up and down the banks, or perhaps you only wade at one of the granite water access areas. Whatever you are doing, it seems to be working. We are happy to report that since we started to communicate this problem in 2019, we are seeing that the banks are slowly starting to grow back. Slowly, but surely.

West meadow

The nature of our bank erosion problem lies in the geometry of the pond itself and how our trails and carriage roads were originally laid out. The pond is long and narrow, which gives it lots of perimeter. More perimeter means more potential for bank erosion. A trail and a carriage road were laid next to the pond and in some places there is a very narrow buffer between the two. When the trail and carriage road were built, their locations were not an issue because visitors and dogs were few, compared to today. In fact, they were great locations for a trail and carriage road for the obvious reasons: they offered easy access to the water and provided amazing views of the surrounding mountains. But usage was low and human impact did not hamper nature’s beautiful ability to heal its own wounds with plant roots.

East side of the pond

Obviously, times have changed. What was once a sensible location for a carriage road is now a magnet that attracts multitudes of people and dogs. The thin strip of land that we rely on to support the carriage road (literally, keep the carriage road up), could crumble away under the weight of heavy usage. It is likely that our efforts to prevent bank erosion will be a continual work in progress. The next step of progress will come this spring when we install additional cedar fencing at two locations along the pond. One location is on the east side of the pond adjacent to the lower carriage road. The other location is at the southern end of the west meadow.

At the eastern section we experimented with traditional coping stones in 2020 with the hope that it would prevent dogs from running up and down the banks. Unfortunately, this strategy was not successful, and we must now remove the coping stones and install fence. In the west meadow we will add fence to the southern bank to mirror what we did in 2020 on the northern bank. Beyond both fences we will support the growth of woody shrubs and trees that will protect the bank.

Thank you for your ongoing support and for doing the right thing when visiting Little Long Pond. Please remember to use the granite water access areas and help your dog get to the right spot. They get so excited, they forget where to go sometimes! Together we can prove that large groups of visitors do not necessarily need to have a negative impact on the environment.

By Tate Bushell, Director of Natural Lands

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