MARLBOROUGH – Visitors to Holts Grove Conservation Land in Marlborough may now find walking through the trail there a little easier thanks to a set of bog bridges that high school student Benjamin Rippy recently installed for his Eagle Scout project.
Rippy, a senior at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, told the Community Advocate that he initially reached out to the Sudbury Valley Trustees with the idea of working on a project in Sudbury.
Instead, the Trustees told him that they needed four bog bridges in Holt’s Grove near Marlborough High School.
“It was a really great experience to design these bridges and construct them with my fellow scouts,” Rippy said. “I hope the bridges will be in use for many, many years to come.”
Rippy said that five scouts and a few parents helped him cut the pressure-treated lumber used to construct the bog bridges. That happened on July 9. Then, on July 11, they assembled the bridges onsite with screws and L-brackets.
The team built the first bridge across a stream crossing over the trail. Visitors previously had to pass through that section by walking across slippery rocks on the stream.
“If you can make that crossing, that’s great, but if you can’t, that’s hazardous, dangerous and just kind of takes away from your ability to enjoy the nature of the area because you’re worried about slipping,” Rippy said. “It just makes it so that people can walk across and it’s easy.”
Rippy said that the second bridge was built to replace a preexisting bridge, which ended at a pile of rocks where trail users could slip. The new bridge drops down onto level dirt to lower the risk of injury.
The third and fourth bridges were built to cross very muddy areas that are at low terrain, where water can build up to create a slipping hazard.
To fundraise for the project, Rippy sent out an email campaign to friends and family, asking for recipients to inform anyone they knew who are conservation supporters.
“Fortunately, we got a lot of donations from people, and so we covered the funds and we had extra money left over even,” Rippy said.
Rippy said that he raised around $1,100. He had just over $185 left over after the project itself. So, Rippy donated those funds to the Marlborough Conservation Commission. Conservation Officer Priscilla Ryder noted in a memo to Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant earlier this year that funds raised for projects and not used must be donated to the organization the work was done for, according to Boy Scout rules.
“The Marlborough Conservation Commission does great work in conservation lands in Marlborough and it’s really great to be able to support them,” Rippy said.
Rippy’s donation was unanimously approved at a Marlborough City Council meeting on Nov. 8.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Rippy and all the local Boy Scout troops for their dedication and efforts in making our community a better place,” wrote Vigeant in a letter to the City Council included in that meeting’s agenda packet. “Whether it’s extending or enhancing a walking trail, constructing flag boxes, or another project, it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Rippy’s work is hardly the first such project to benefit Marlborough.
It’s focus on trail safety, likewise, comes as other area communities also consider ways to create more accessible opportunities to interact with nature.
Westborough opened a new “all persons” trail around Gilmore Pond in town earlier this year. That facility features boardwalks, a continuous hand rope for those with vision impairments, and a smooth treadway allowing for ease of access in wheelchairs, among other things.
In Northborough, meanwhile, multiple town committees are collaborating on discussions to update an existing trail at the Senior Center to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.