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Students pitch in on trail work

Worth the hike

Submitted photo Students who assisted in the trail work include Sophia Drozdziel, Mary Dunn, Rachel Pryll, Gabrielle VanZile, Tristian Olsen, Alexis Serio, Allison Miller, Matthew Dunn and Antonio Patton.

FORESTVILLE — Last month, 11 students from Forestville Central School and one parent partnered with Imagine Forestville to make progress on the soon-to-be Forestville Hiking Trail. Joined by volunteers Merv Fry and Nancy Adams Fry, the group braved the overcast weather and spots of rain to further prepare the Walnut Street location for its eventual opening.

The work on the hiking trail began shortly after the village of Forestville was dissolved into the town of Hanover, and became a hamlet. Adams Fry said that the residents of Forestville were looking for something to keep their sense of community given the news, and this hiking trail was one idea Forestville used.

“As people continue to feel a strong relationship and affection for the now hamlet of Forestville, people were looking at that property which had always belonged to the village,” Adams Fry said. “They felt a strong relationship with it and it was on a beautiful road. People were already hiking in it but it was too mucky and hard to find the road.”

Though the trail isn’t officially open yet, the work the students did on the trail is valuable to making that step. They spent a recent Saturday morning fighting through underbrush and exposing a trail to connect the nine bridges Imagine Forestville volunteers erected in 2020 to protect the wetlands from foot damage. Adams Fry said that, despite the conditions, the students who showed up had a great time fixing up the mile long trail.

“It was so great to have all the high school kids show up,” Adams Fry said. “They had rakes in hand and were ready to dig in and work. They would break into song while they were working. It was wonderful. They just got right to it and did the whole trail.”

Adams Fry said she wasn’t expecting people to show up due to the weather, but those that did were given refreshments in appreciation of the work they provided. “Anybody willing to work on a day like that should have muffins and cider,” Adams Fry said.

The students also were able to explore the environment of their community, passing from brushy successional forest into a variety of other trees, while staying on the marked path for the trail.

Erik Danielson, ecological consultant, helped site the trail to avoid adverse impacts on sensitive natural communities. Helped by a grant from Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Danielson analyzed the vegetation and ecological communities of the land, owned by the town of Hanover.

The trail will be open to the public for walking and wildlife observation once the parking lot is open, and Adams Fry is hopeful to do a big grand opening for the trail. Additionally, the trail will assist in removal of invasive species.

Adams Fry is anticipating more collaboration between the school, Imagine Forestville, and the town, as she believes that the sense of community has been lost a little bit due to COVID-19 and other societal factors. Because of this, she’s excited for future collaboration.

“It’s tough to rebuild a sense of community,” Adams Fry said. “I think the pandemic made it very hard to feel like we’re part of an organization or community and national politics have pulled people apart. So, when I see the local community pulling together in a common vision, it’s nothing to ignore and something to really celebrate. The spirit of the cleanup was full of that sense of community.”

If anyone wishes to assist with Imagine Forestville, including work on the trail, invasive species removal, or building the kiosk, contact Imagine Forestville at 716-934-8534 for the next work date.

Imagine Forestville is a nonprofit organization formed to “preserve and enhance our richly historic hamlet, including historic buildings, homes, farms and lands, in order to have a lasting legacy of our heritage and to be a welcoming rural community for years to come.”

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