Just met with Mrs. Sherwin, Mrs. McGoldrick, and Mr. Heller about the project and asked for their input. Got some great ideas including "situpons" and makeshift walls for a compost pile.
We will be working again on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 to finish up the OWLZ! If you'd like to help out, bring shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 4pm. Wear clothing appropriate to the weather and water (and snacks) will be provided.
We will be spreading wood chips along the path and need as much help as possible!
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped this weekend, you were all fantastic!
Despite the threat of rain, we managed to get a lot done from 8am to 11:40am (when the rain made it dangerous to be walking around). We finished all of the trail blazes of the lower (red) trail and are almost done with the higher (pink) trail. We also cleared the main path of any brush left over from Day One and trimmed a lot more bushes. There is also a spot off of the main trail where we want to have a "Tree Ring Station" which was cleared today.
The Pink Trail passes along the ridge next to the playground and down to the path leading to the classroom areas. However, there is a massive dirt pile in the way so we had to cut a path into the side of the very rocky hill. After the trail was "paved," we used some of the large logs to help show where the trail was (and to help keep it from eroding).
The Red Trail is at the bottom end of the classroom area and connects to the lower tee-ball field. There was a lot of pruning done today and we are still pulling dead branches out of the bushes on either side of the trail.
Things we still have to do:
- Spread wood chips (which we'll get from the piles and the Mendham Borough DPW)
- Get more logs for marking the trails and classroom areas
- Get stumps for individual seats
- Sand and lacquer the "Tree Ring Station"
- Finish trail blazes (the down to uphill direction on the Pink Trail)
- Create signs for landmarks
We got out to Hilltop this morning at 7:50 (pulling in the same time as Mr. Gesell) to set up for Mr. Kasharian and Mr. Wolf from Tim's Timber and prepare for a busy day. After a quick walkthrough with Mr. Gesell, we put out the caution tape and took a "pre-project" video.
When Mr. Kasharian arrived, we did another walkthrough (to make sure we were all on the same page) and he went to get the Skidder. This awesome machine was terrifyingly large and had pincers on one end and a dirt leveler on the other. Mr. Gesell likened it to the big "AT-ATs" from Star Wars and said that any moment, Ewoks would come screaming from the woods.
With Mr. K (and eventually Mr. Wolf) cutting up trees with his chainsaw, then skillfully maneuvering them with the machine, he cleared the main path and the classroom area of trees in an astonishing 3 hours and 40 minutes.
After they left and volunteers began arriving, we began clearing the trail of brush and digging up plant roots that could possibly trip people. There were lots of branches from the fallen trees so they were all dragged into two piles for the Mendham Borough Department of Public Works to chip and put on the trail.
Since there was a lot of dead grass and brush, we created a composting pile where students can learn about composting and use the resulting soil to replenish Hilltop's many flower beds. The biggest classroom area (with two logs in an "L") was raked clear of brush and delineated by other logs used to make the area safe. We also ground down some potentially dangerous tree stumps.
An entire team of volunteers was allocated specifically to picking up the copious amounts of litter found in the woods. These were some of our favorite finds:
- Child's shoe from (we guess) around the 1950s
- Headless miniature skeleton
- Glass French "limonade" bottle
- LED light-saber with no blade
- The blade to the LED light-saber
- Baseball base
- Many, many golf balls
Another important thing we did was remove many of the poison ivy vines wrapped securely around some of the trees. These and the pricker bushes pose the biggest threats to student populations, so they have either been trimmed back or destroyed (in the case of the poison ivy).
Toward the end of the day, we focused on cleaning as much of the trail as possible (only the main one) to prepare for the storm tonight. Hope it stays intact!
We are starting the project today!
From 8am to 1pm, Mr. Kasharian (of Tim's Timber), Mr. Gesell (from Mendham Borough Schools) and I will be clearing falling trees with chainsaws and other tools.
From 1pm to 6pm, volunteers are welcome to come pitch in clearing the classroom areas and the trails.
Finally approved yesterday! Here is the letter sent to potential volunteers:
My Eagle Project has just been approved by the Mendham Borough Superintendent. On Saturday and Sunday, I will be at Hilltop Elementary School (12 Hilltop Road, Mendham) creating an "Outdoor Classroom" which will entail clearing a trail and several classroom areas.
Who: Anyone that would like to help (and needs service hours)
When: Saturday from 1pm to 6pm, Sunday from 8am to 4pm
Even if it is raining, we will still be doing the project. However, if there is lightning in Mendham, the project will be postponed until further notice (for that day). If the project is not finished this weekend, next Saturday and Sunday will be work days (times TBD)
Where: Hilltop Elementary School, 12 Hilltop Road, Mendham NJ
Wear: Suitable clothing for the weather and since we will be clearing brush, long pants and long-sleeves are encouraged. There may also be ticks, so take appropriate precautions.
Bring: Pruning shears, other cutting/trimming implements that are not electrically powered, work gloves
Yes, there will be snacks. And water. Please RSVP with whether or not you can come!
Thank you very much,