Volunteers participate in a work party at Circle Creek Conservation Center.
When you visit North Coast Land Conservancy’s Circle Creek Conservation Center this spring, you may notice a variety of improvements: a new gate post; updated walkways, bridges and boardwalks; and smoother trails.
These are just a few of the projects completed by a crew of Seasoned Stewards over the past few months. Their efforts also involved removal of an old dilapidated garage, electrical service upgrades, and renovations to the Creek House that sits on the property.
“A lot of this is infrastructure work—behind-the-scenes kind of things—that is maybe not too exciting but still, it represents a lot of valuable work by volunteers,” says Randall Henderson, a board member and longtime volunteer who heads up “The Circle Creek Team” with volunteers Pat Wollner and Scott Rekate. They also serve on NCLC’s Circle Creek Committee, along with other board and staff members.
As NCLC’s most well-known and publicly visited properties, Circle Creek is typically maintained on a regular basis, with at least one or two work parties per year dedicated to trail upkeep. The other two primary components of maintenance include facilities management and renovations at the Creek House.
Scott builds a walkway at Circle Creek as part of the property’s spring maintenance.
Circle Creek has two main public walkways: The 0.8-mile Legacy Loop and 2.4-mile Wetlands Walk. Over the winter, these trails wind up with a lot of brush, debris and even downed trees. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it unsafe for large groups of people to gather, 2020 saw less maintenance than usual. The property also was closed to the public for more than a year.
With the reopening set for Earth Day, the Circle Creek crew got to work in March and April, making sure the trails were up to snuff and tackling other projects less visible to the public eye.
Take Scott’s pet project, for example, which he adopted in 2020: upgrading the water system for the Creek House so it provides cleaner water and requires consistently less maintenance.
Before, the lines kept getting clogged and there was a significant amount of dirt and vegetation spilling onto the 4,000-gallon stainless steel tank the water runs into.
“It was an inferior system, and I was having to check it once or twice per week,” says Scott, a retired contractor. Meanwhile, the trail getting to the tank is sensitive. The more traffic it experiences, the more it deteriorates.
Scott upgraded various parts of the structure and arranged to have more sophisticated ultraviolet (UV) purification system installed. Ultimately, he explains, the improvements should “alleviate the amount of travel time to go up there and clear the system,” although some maintenance will always be required.
Looking forward, the Circle Creek team is weighing options for how to best utilize the Creek House and communications around public access policies and procedures. That may involve developing new signage for the property. Additionally, NCLC continues with plans to move its office to Circle Creek in the future.
The Circle Creek crew installs new gate posts.