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Orono Bog Boardwalk to open for the season with new sections

Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN
Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN
A sign marks the transition from the new composite decking and the old wooden decking of the Orono Bog Boardwalk. It opens for the season on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.
By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff

The Orono Bog Boardwalk, one of most popular nature walks in the Bangor area, will open for its 16th season at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1, with several improvements.

Return visitors will notice that a large portion of the boardwalk has been rebuilt since last season. After the boardwalk closed in mid October, a group of nearly 40 volunteers worked for hundreds of hours to install 96 new sections of the boardwalk, three wheelchair turnouts and two interpretive stations.

The new sections are a part of an ongoing $1 million restoration project. Over the past five years, boardwalk volunteers have worked together to replace 396 of 509 sections of the original wooden boardwalk, which has begun to rot in recent years. The new sections are made of more durable composite decking with cladded aluminum siding and stainless steel posts featuring floats that keep the sections level in the water-filled bog.

To date, 113 sections are left to be purchased and installed. Fundraising is in progress for that phase of construction, which should cost about $139,000. The goal is to complete the reconstruction by the end of 2018.

“Once everything gets done, we’ll be able to refocus efforts on education, trying to get out to various service groups and schools and advertising more tours,” said Jim Bird, director of the Orono Bog Boardwalk Committee.

Measuring about a mile long, the wheelchair-accessible boardwalk winds through a forested

wetland to emerge into an open peat bog, filled with interesting plants including gnarled black spruce, fluffy-tipped cotton sedge, carnivorous pitcher plants and a wide variety of flowers, including sheep laurel, rhodora, blue flag iris and rose pogonia. Interpretive panels with color photos, diagrams and illustrations help visitors learn more about the various habitats the boardwalk travels through, and there are benches along the way so people can rest and enjoy the surroundings.

Located on the eastern edge of the Rolland F. Perry City Forest — commonly known as the Bangor City Forest — the boardwalk is jointly managed by the University of Maine, the City of Bangor and the Orono Land Trust. Since it opened in June 2003, it has been visited by more than 350,000 people.

The boardwalk can be accessed from the forest’s parking lot at the end of Tripp Drive off Stillwater Avenue in Bangor. Throughout the spring and summer, the boardwalk is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with hours adjusting for day-length changes in autumn. Admission is free. Dogs are not permitted.

For more information, visit umaine.edu/oronobogboardwalk or the Orono Bog Boardwalk Facebook page. Coming up, there will be guided bird walks on the boardwalk on Saturday, May 12, and Saturday, May 19, as well as the boardwalk’s major annual fundraiser, a yard dale, running from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at 139 Main Street in Orono. If interested in any of the events, email Jim Bird at james.bird@maine.edu or call 207-866-2578.

Donations for the reconstruction of the boardwalk can be made online at our.umaine.edu/OronoBogBoardwalk or by mail to the University of Maine Foundation, 2 Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792.

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