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Young volunteer fixes up Gunstock Wetlands Boardwalk

Mark Young stands at one of the look-out points of the one-quarter-mile Wetlands Boardwalk at Gunstock with his mildew scrubbing brush in-hand. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
October 26, 2011
Thirteen-year-old Mark Young of Gilford is in the process of restoring the one-quarter-mile Wetlands Boardwalk at Gunstock Mountain Resort for his Bar Mitzvah community service project.

Young, along with friends and family volunteers, set out recently to scrub off slippery mildew, pick up trash and trim overgrown branches covering the handicapped-accessible trail. He said he took on the task because it had personal meaning to him.

When his family moved to Gilford from New Mexico in 2001, Young would go on regular strolls on the boardwalk with his mother, Lisa Young.

A walk around the boardwalk brought back memories for Young from when he was much younger. He recalled landmarks, such as a bird house, which had been moved over the years, and a large tree stump which he would try to climb years ago.

"I would always try to climb it, but I never could," said Young. "Now I have no problem."

Aside from their summer walks at Gunstock, the Youngs are avid cross-country skiers, and very involved with the Gunstock Nordic Association.

"We spend a lot of time here," said Lisa Young. "We ski here during the winter, and play here during the summer."

Young figured he would try to give back to the place where he spent so much of his childhood.

Since its Young's early-childhood strolls, the quarter-mile boardwalk has fallen into some disrepair. Small limbs and brush crowded the area, and layers of slippery mildew covered the entire surface.

Over the summer, Young and his crew spent more than 50 hours sawing away at the small branches and discarding them deep in the woods, out of sight. They also spent about three hours widening the Red Pine Trail, which loops off of the boardwalk on one side of the wetlands, and which they said was very overgrown.

"It was so bad that Mark couldn't walk down it without brushing against the branches," said Lisa.

With the brush cleared, Young moved on to scrubbing the boardwalk, which he said was proving to be a challenge.

"We use no chemicals," said Young, which he attributed to the vicinity to the wetlands. "I have to wait for it to rain, or bring buckets of water from the river."

Young used a brush of a long handle and water to scrub off mildew from the walking surface and the many benches built off to the side of the boardwalk.

Though he said the work was tough, he enjoyed the thought of giving back to the community.

"He's not of that mindset. He doesn't want to do a project just to get it done. He wants to do something for the community," said Lisa.

She said the project has also been a learning experience for her son.

For Young to work on the boardwalk, he had to become a volunteer with the Belknap Country Conservation Commission to cover any liability concerns. He contacted Doug Irving at Gunstock, who put Young in contact with Lisa Morin, from the Conservation Commission, who made Young an official volunteer.

According to Young, the project will be postponed until the spring because it would be too cold to work with water. After the cleaning is complete, Young said he plans to finish the project by repainting the yellow barriers on the edge of the boardwalk.

"He wanted to do something outside," said Lisa. "It's been fun. He has really enjoyed it."

"It's good to be giving back," said Young.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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