Downed trees and branches are cleared, boardwalks are built, and signs are posted throughout the 230 miles of the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) so you can hike, bike, walk your dog, bird watch. or ride horses safely on the trails. However, there is not a single entity that handles all of this maintenance work.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has taken over the overall stewardship of the BCT, but the BCT crosses many types of property, including private land, state forests, and plots held by land trusts and organizations. non-profit. Thus, many people, companies and organizations participate, and most of the time on a voluntary basis.
Kristen Sykes, who oversees BCT for AMC, said she sees BCT as a microcosm of the Appalachian Trail (AT).
âIt’s really kind of a patchwork of different landholdings and a lot of different trails, and like the TA it’s kind of like a trail trail,â said Sykes.
The AMC, she said, has trail staff, but the organization also organizes volunteer working groups, partnerships with local businesses and groups, and provides resources for specific projects.
In addition, members of the BCT Trails Committee represent various sections of the entire trail and are ready to answer questions.
Liz Armstrong, for example, represents Georgetown, Boxford, North Andover, Middleton and Andover. She said each community has its own approach to keeping sections of the BCT within its borders. Some rely on individuals while others have very active trail groups.
There are also relationships between organizations, she said, including city groups, land trusts and the State Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Essex County Trail Association (ECTA) maintains trails in Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham, Topsfield, Essex and West Newbury, and some of them are part of the BCT.
ECTA’s Director of Trail Maintenance and Management Carol Lloyd said volunteers are essential to keeping the trails in good condition and they love to do it.
âWe get this report from this man every month that comes out and tells me how many sticks he picks up,â Lloyd said. âIt’s really great. It feels really good to help out on the trails.
ECTA steps in as needed, she said, as part of a larger situation. If anyone reports a tree fall on a trail in the Willowdale State Forest, ECTA will contact the appropriate organization to deal with it. When a section of Georgetown Rowley State Forest needed a walk and a beaver cheater, ECTA pulled together the resources and volunteers to bring the project to fruition.
Boxford Trails Association / Boxford Open Land Trust (BTA / BOLT) maintains 15 miles of BCT as well as approximately 85 additional miles of trails in Boxford. Jeff Hixon is in charge of maintenance.
âI am in close contact with the AMC office in Boston,â he said.
BTA / BOLT has a long list of volunteers who help get the job done.
âA lot of it is pretty mundane,â Hixon said. âIt’s about cutting some of the brush that tends to grow on the trails and picking up some branches. “
BTA / BOLT also manages larger projects.
âWe have built some really nice and big horse bridges on the Bay Circuit Trail also here in Boxford,â Hixon said.
All of these organizations, and many more throughout the BCT, maintain websites with a wealth of information on trail conditions, upcoming projects, how you can report an issue on a trail, and how you can help.