Viles Arboretum's Wetland Boardwalk is a breathtaking outdoor attraction that takes visitors on a quarter-mile immersive journey through Maine's natural surroundings. However, the current structure is deteriorating and requires replacement. The project is scheduled to commence in the upcoming spring of 2023, and we seek your support to help us achieve our goal of building a new, professionally designed and engineered boardwalk.
The Boardwalk Project
The total cost of required for this project is $142,000. In 2022, we were selected by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands to receive a "Once in a Generation" investment in the Arboretum to improve a variety of infrastructure on our trails through its Recreational Trail Program (RTP). A portion of this funding will go to fund 80% of the boardwalk project. This leaves a remaining balance of $28,400 that the Arboretum needs to raise through grants and grassroots fundraising. You can help us reach our goal by making a donation towards the completion of this project.
The importance of the Wetland Boardwalk
The Wetland Boardwalk is the 4th longest boardwalk in Maine, winding through a stunning wetland area that is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the wetlands and observe a diverse variety of wildlife, including mink, herons, frogs, and turtles. The boardwalk offers an excellent opportunity for visitors to explore and learn about the rich biodiversity of the area. With its peaceful ambiance and scenic views, the Wetland Boardwalk is an ideal destination for nature lovers, bird watchers, and wildlife enthusiasts.
It also provides an opportunity for visitors to learn about the importance of wetland ecosystems. They play a crucial role in preserving biodiversity, filtering water, and reducing the impact of floods. By strolling along the boardwalk, visitors can gain a better understanding of the complex relationships between wetlands, the environment, and the efforts being made to conserve them. This particular wetland ecosystem allows visitors to observe habitat restoration in action.
Why does it need to be replaced?
The existing structure, which was constructed in 2016, was built using untreated wood products. While this was a cost-effective option that provided an aesthetically-pleasing end result, the resulting structure was not able to withstand the high-moisture conditions of the wetland environment. This has caused the structure to deteriorate.
Following extensive research on wetland boardwalk structures present in other parts of the State of Maine, it was concluded that the current boardwalk structure must be entirely replaced. We are working with Dock Guys, LLC, who will be designing and installing a new structure that will be more accessible, have a longer lifespan, and will have a lower impact on the surrounding habitat. The new structure will be constructed out of synthetic materials and stainless steel. The synthetic decking will be porous to allow water and debris to pass through, improving the longevity of the structure and lessening its impact on the surrounding environment.
History of the Wetland Boardwalk
Over a century of agricultural activities dramatically changed the way water flowed across the land that is now Viles Arboretum. The Augusta Mental Health Institutions utilized the land as a source of drinking water. This, in turn, caused significant alterations to water features on the property. The changes consisted of the damming of Whitney Brook at its headwater (Viles pond), and the creation of two holding ponds downstream (which is now the location of the wetland boardwalk). These modifications increased the capacity of the waterworks, which was developed to support AMHI, but had a negative impact on the existing habitat. In the 1990’s, the City of Augusta began restoring the wetland area of the Arboretum. These restoration efforts have helped to improve this water feature as a functional habitat for several wetland species such as painted turtle, swamp sparrow, common yellowthroat and muskrat.The Wetland Boardwalk at the Arboretum makes this unique habitat more accessible to our visitors, allowing them to interact with a place that would otherwise be difficult to access.
The Wetland Boardwalk is a unique destination that combines education, recreation, and conservation, making it an ideal location for visitors of all ages to explore and learn.