Volunteers Join With Northampton County To Restore Birding Boardwalk

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Northampton County is restoring a public walkway near its landfill, a boardwalk that ends in a view of Brockenberry Bay. County employees are doing the work with help from volunteers who include members of Birding Eastern Shore and Eastern Shore Master Naturalists. Back row: Jacob Tittermary and James Vernon Simpson II. Middle row: Jeff Doughty, Judy Illmensee, Martina Coker, John Coker, Barbara O’Hare, and Sandy Schultz, with Steve Grimes and Hal Pfingst looking on. Bottom row, kneeling: Richard Ayers. Photo by Stefanie Jackson.

By Stefanie Jackson – Birding Eastern Shore and the Eastern Shore Master Naturalists are partnering with Northampton County to restore one of its hidden gems, a nature path and boardwalk tucked away in a seemingly unlikely spot behind the Northampton landfill.

The project “fits with our mission to enhance the appreciation of birds, wildlife, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” said Martina Coker, of Birding Eastern Shore.

The boardwalk was built in 2004 with a $60,000 Coastal Zone Management grant.

Coastal Zone Management is a federal program administered by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Over the last 15 years, the boardwalk has fallen into disrepair but will be restored “so that the public may safely enjoy this beautiful location,” Coker said.

The restoration is made possible by a $20,000 Coastal Zone Management grant received by Northampton County and facilitated by Birding Eastern Shore, known formally as nonprofit Eastern Shore of Virginia Birding and Wildlife Programs Inc.

Northampton County employees began working onsite Wednesday, Oct. 23, with volunteers that included members of Birding Eastern Shore, Eastern Shore Master Naturalists, as well as Northampton Supervisor John Coker.

The boardwalk is in a prime location for birding or just enjoying nature in the Beverly area, about two miles north of the University of Virginia research center in Oyster and four miles east of Cheriton.

Before the volunteers even left the landfill, where they met up Wednesday morning, they were treated to a night heron sighting across a pond.

Behind the landfill, a short trail leads to the boardwalk, which ends in an overlook of Brockenberry Bay.

The renovation will include the installation of signs that provide visitors information about the maritime forest and its inhabitants.

The project has been designated as a master naturalists stewardship project, meaning the Eastern Shore Master Naturalists will maintain the boardwalk.

Dot Field, Eastern Shore Region Steward for the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the chapter advisor for the Eastern Shore Master Naturalists, is the project’s advisor. She may be contacted at 757-787-5989.