Submitted to Easton Patch:
On Sunday Sept. 16, members of the Oliver Ames High School Cross Country team joined forces with the Easton Conservation Commission to enhance the trails in the Clifford G. Grant Reservation area.
The project is spearheaded by Easton Conservation Committee member Christopher Patrick. It involves improving existing trails, clearing older trails that are covered by brush and debris, and connecting the whole system (see the attached map). Funds for the project are being provided by a federal grant and private donations.
The Clifford G. Grant Reservation is a 180 acre parcel adjacent to the high school. It abuts the 70-acre Town Forest parcel. Together the two pieces make up a wilderness resource, that when coupled with Borderland State Park is second to none.
“We got a lot done today” said Patrick.
Patrick had the help of more than 30 volunteers from OA’s Cross Country program. The volunteers were made up of coaches, parents and student athletes.
The Grant Reservation and Town Forest are familiar territory for the OA harriers.
“We train in there everyday” said OA senior captain Kristi Humphries.
“We know those trails like the back of our hands” added senior co-captain Megan Fitzgerald.
The Tiger runners and coaches are also no strangers to trail maintenance.
“We have been clearing debris and brush from those trails forever” said Oliver Ames head coach Neil Levine. “It’s just part of what we do."
Levine thought no one had been paying attention,\ until he was contacted by Selectman Colleen Corona. Corona knew that town land use planner Stephanie Danielson, in conjunction with Patrick and the conservation commission were putting together the project and applying for the federal grant. Corona had the idea of putting it all together.
“’Colleen was having lunch with Stephanie at Maguire’s one afternoon last year. I walked over to the table and she introduced us. When they told me about the project we were all excited. We knew it was a natural fit for the program” said Levine.
That contact added the manpower of the cross country program coupled with the knowledge and insight of Patrick and the conservation commission. It became the perfect public/private partnership, very similar to the track and field project of a few years ago but on a smaller scale.
Sunday morning’s work was no small scale. The athletes had spent the previous day running 10 miles of hill repeats in the Blue Hill Reservation. On what is traditionally a day of rest, the student athletes spent Sunday clearing branches, rocks and other debris.
“This beats the normal core work and push-ups we do.” said OA senior harrier Justin Curran. “I wish we could do this all the time.”
Once completed, the project will benefit the entire community. The trails will be usable for walking, running, mountain biking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing etc. “I’m excited to be able to leave a legacy for the entire community” said Oliver Ames sophomore runner Cameron Gardner.
That legacy will be a trail system for everyone to enjoy for years to come.