~ Submitted by Terry Gleason
Recently, I enjoyed a 2-hour walk with a professional arborist (a friend of a friend) on the Town’s Reformatory RT. [Signup info for an arborist walk at the end of this letter]. The arborist clearly had a love of nature and conveyed how important it is to see the ‘woods’ as a whole and not just as individual trees.
We noted the common maples, pines, and oaks, a cherry tree, the invasive Norway Maple (harmful to the native New England forest and the important ‘edge environments’. The arborist recommended Tom Wessels’ (ecology) books to envision the history of the woods, e.g, where a pasture might have been, revealed by the mix and age of trees. We noted a splendid large pine at Lavender LN parking lot that should be saved with a trail modification if it’s currently in the 22 ft right-of-way.
“Clear Cutting [4.3 acres of trees]?” Where did that misleading expression come from – social media? Can we blame it on our neighbors to the west?
The Reformatory dirt trail is about 1.7 miles long. After the annual DPW summer brush clearing, the trail varies in width from 10 to 22 ft. Using a conservative 12 ft average width estimate, there are approximately 2.3 acres of ‘clear trail’ on the existing Reformatory. Include the service road area by Hartwell Rd, then it’s over 3 acres of ‘cleared trail’ today.
The additional cleared space needed is largely because Bedford residents at the Public Design Reviews requested it. Joggers wanted stone dust sides (3 ft. each side). A second access to the underpass (northwest side) as well as improvements to the parking lots to separate cars from the trail users were requested. These are all very reasonable trade-offs for safety. Everyone agrees that the sidewalk and sidepath additions to Railroad Ave are wonderful additions and a bargain for the Town.
Signup for TBD ‘forest walk/talks’ on Reformatory Trail, Pending interest and availability of the arborist, this may be advertised through the COA and/or the Rec. Dept (Fall). If you would like to be put on an ‘interested’ list, send an email to BedfordBike@gmail.com with the Subject line: “Arborist Walk”. Groups will be kept small to maximize interaction; Expect a fee – young, working arborists need to be paid for their time!