The Dundery Brook Trail in Little Compton opened to the public last Friday, June 2, to the rejoice of many hikers and outdoor educators. students, town officials and residents gathered in the tennis courts at Veteran's Field for the trail's opening ceremony.
Coming off the from last fall, the approximately 3,208-foot long handicapped-accessible boardwalk and 1.35-mile trail, with a total cost of $485,000 acquired through state, federal and local fundraising. It begins from an entrance to the woods next to the school’s tennis courts, and meanders north toward The Bumblebee Preserve, a 118-acre tract already managed by The Nature Conservancy of Rhode Island.
Conservancy Director Terry Sullivan said Friday's opening coincides with National Trails Day, which was Saturday, June. It's a celebration of trails that evolved from a recommendation that all Americans be able to go out their front doors and within 15 minutes, be on trails that wind through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing steps.
Sullivan touted that Dundery Brook adds to the Conservancy's efforts to complete 60 miles of new trails throughout Rhode Island.
"This trail is for them, the kids," Sullivan said.
There was an inaugural walk Friday morning prior to the ceremony. Scott Comings, director of land and freshwater at the Conservancy, said he led Wilbur-McMahon third grade students on the trail for a talk on local birds.
"It's key for the students to have access," he said, talking about the outdoor classroom on the trail.
Due to the amount of wetlands, the boardwalk for the Dundery Brook Trail was built with highly durable black locust wood. Comings noted that only 10.2 square feet of the boardwalk touches the ground, and they only had to cut down three trees to make the trail, as well as clear the brush by hand.
Singer and songwriter Bill Harley played for the kids during the ceremony. In between songs, he told the students a story about going on a walk with a woman into the woods after a recent evening rain to find peepers. It wasn't long until he realized the forest was alive with different sounds from different frogs, toads and insects.
"It was the like the Earth was singing 'I'm alive,'" he said, noting that he's always been concerned about where people live and how they take care of it. "I believe if we know where we live, then we won't hurt it."