Groundwork Lawrence's Green Team hit the BCT last summer for a service day at Ward Hill Reservation

Volunteers, Donors Aid Bay Circuit Trail

By Rob Burbank | AMC Outdoors, March/April 2015

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When work is called a party, it appears, people are happy to show up to work.

That was the story on the Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway in 2014, when volunteers participated in seven AMC-led Saturday work parties, helping to maintain this 230-mile multi-use recreation path that’s known as Greater Boston’s “Outer Emerald Necklace.”

The beneficiary of more than 1,200 hours of AMC-led volunteer time in 2014, the 230-mile Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway marked a busy year that brought new improvements, renewed stewardship, and financial support.

For decades, the multi-use trail has been a close-to-home recreational asset for the 4 million people within its vicinity. AMC and The Trustees of Reservations in 2012 announced a collaboration aimed at improving trail conditions and amenities and working toward the eventual completion of the route, which arcs around 57 Greater Boston communities, from Plum Island in the north to Duxbury in the south.

Now, with increased energy from the two organizations, along with representatives of the Bay Circuit Alliance and Bay Circuit Trail Committee (BCTC) and other volunteers, the future looks particularly bright.

Also helping build volunteer support for the trail is MassLIFT-AmeriCorps Community Engagement Coordinator Molly Higgins, now in the midst of a full-time, 11-month term of service.

In a report on the 2014 season, Beth Gula, AMC Bay Circuit Trail volunteer programs supervisor, noted volunteer support also included 13 staff-led, one-day projects and six days of work by custom crews from AMC Youth Opportunities Program-related agencies and a corporate group.

The focus of that work was determined by the findings and recommendations in a trail assessment performed in 2013 by AMC Cartographer Larry Garland. Work included installation of step stones, bog-bridging, brushing, removal of blowdowns, blazing, and trash removal. In all, 5-3/4 miles of trail were improved.

Fifty Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Massachusetts employees worked on the trail as part of their company-wide service day, some creating a new park entrance and trailhead in Bridgewater and others removing blowdowns in Easton.

The trail also benefits from financial gifts. According to AMC Director of Major Gifts Molly Ruffle, AMC members have contributed more than $1.2 million to advance the Bay Circuit Trail effort.

In her year-end report, Gula noted the trail is approximately 95 percent complete, “containing less than 20 miles of gaps and temporary sections where ideal, off-road routes are yet-to-be-dedicated.”

AMC and BCTC continue to install new trail markers and create informational materials for distribution at kiosks along the trail and are updating a maintenance manual for use by volunteers.

AMC also is working to raise awareness of the trail as a close-to-home recreational resource through the publication of the new “Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway Map & Guide,” to be released later this spring. It includes 30 recommended trips and highlights sections that are best for walking, cycling, and cross-country skiing. A companion interactive trail map is also in the works.

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