Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Completion of Boardwalk Nature Trailat Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
Midwest Region, June 8, 2007
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- FWS photo
- FWS photo - Photo Credit: n/a
- FWS photo
- FWS photo - Photo Credit: n/a

After 38 days of construction labor for a MAT Team Project at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, the popular Boardwalk Nature Trail reopened to the public, on June 8th.   

Two teams constructed 1,810 feet of recycled plastic boardwalk for the public to enjoy; and the trail now offers state-of-the-art elevated boardwalk ready for more than 100,000 visits annually. 

But, for 15 Service employees, two temporary hires, and scads of volunteers, the project brought daily challenges...38 daily challenges to be exact.  For each employee that helped, this would not be just another day at the office. 

Where else could you be exposed to poison ivy, water locust thorns, and lightning shows in exchange for 12 hours of grueling labor in the mud and muck of southeast Missouri?  Each day brought a new adventure and another 55 to 110 feet of boardwalk construction. 

For those who recharge on nature, there were always the random encounters with banded water snakes, a glimpse of a flying squirrel, or a dazzling display of courting Prothonotary warblers.  And if that wasn’t enough to get your aching bones out of bed each day at 5 a.m., there was always the smell of shade-grown coffee and the challenges of screwing in another 1,000 (of more than 64,000 total) deck screws, or lifting 160 lb.-post 340 times, or carrying tons of material through knee deep or more mud. 

For these employees there was the added benefit of building 1,810 feet of recycled boardwalk like no one else had ever done or the thought of leaving a legacy for 50 years or more for your grandchildren to maybe walk on someday. 

But the photographers, grandchildren, parents, and person’s in wheelchairs were already coming and really liked what they encountered.  For the managers of Mingo NWR and the visiting public, words of gratitude continue to ripple through the coffee shops and restaurants in the community. 

In 38 days, the MAT Team from eleven different wetland management districts and refuges did the improbable and left a legacy for the public to enjoy.  That legacy is represented in the labor and diligence that connects people to refuges and is best expressed in the words of Refuge Manager Kathleen Burchett: “Thanks for a job well done.”

Contact Info: Vergial Harp, 573-222-3589, vergial_harp@fws.gov
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