Week 5: Challenges at Peddock’s Island-and the “human” Yurt!

Week five has been dynamic here at the Olmsted Center for the DTP interns! While each of us has been working on our own individual projects, we have had the chance to meet with several members of NPS and SCA staff, as well as two summer high school intern groups! We met on Monday with a group from the Branching Out Youth Parks Team, who are dedicated to learning landscape management practices within several different locations throughout the greater Boston area, and how maintenance practices add to the overall experience and planning of the parks and their resources.
Peddocks03 1998 View of Chapel on Peddocks Island
DSC_1151Present View of Chapel

Our trip to Peddocks Island…What can I say…wow it was hot and humid, but Shanasia, Margie and I had a task, wait many tasks: Get to the Island, meet and spend time with the SCA Student Conservation Team exploring and discussing Cultural Landscapes with them, document and re-take photographs for the report, and yes, turn our newly found SCA crew friends into yurts. But, wait–let me back up, before we sent them into the woods we explored the entire island as a group. Centrally located in Boston Harbor, it is open to the public, but has a limited amount of direct boat connections to and from the mainland. It’s unique, as there is a community of residents that make the island their home and share the land with Fort Andrews and visitors to the Park. It was interesting to see how the plots of land were shared between homes, and the rustic feel gave the sense of being brought back to a time or an era that differs from a military culture! The community of cottages hugged parts of the southwestern portion of the island, and seemingly shared lawn and green spaces.
Abandoned Cottages–note shared yards and access paths.

As we made our way back to Fort Andrews on the East Head, we discussed aspects of vegetation management that are current issues on the island, and ways in which the team’s work over the next three weeks will aid in visitor experience, ecological protection, and how those tie into the overall park planning process. The group was extremely interested, and despite the heat completely “game” for what Margie had in-store for us next!

And what she had in store for us absolutely thrilled me! As a precursor to this paragraph I am just going to warn you all that I have always wanted to layout a campground–there is just something about deciding how a visitor experiences an overnight stay from a design standpoint that interests me, and how the human scale is such a crucial part of being in the woods, or in this case, in the woods AND within a historic fort!

As the island is currently home to one yurt campground, the proposal is to add an additional grouping. As a team, we set out to recreate this conceptually by spreading out within the area and becoming yurts in the landscape! It was a great way to show the group about the factors that play into laying out campsites, such as topography, drainage, screening, views, and shade. It was interesting to see how all of these factors race through minds as everyone scrambled to find their spot within the woods! DSC_1220
Finding the perfect Yurt spot. If you were a Yurt with a view…where would you be?

It was great to meet the team, and I hope to be able to catch up on their progress of clearing several areas around the fort, as well as share with them the digital transformation of themselves into yurts, and the final layout of their efforts! More on my progress with the Yurt Campground as the summer continues!

So, as I finish up this blog post for the week, I am trying to add in all of the other details from the week, such as meeting to discuss and review all of our work products, brown bag lunches with Christine Arato from the History Program to hear how her work has translated into cultural landscape management, and then it occurred to me…I haven’t even spoken about Acadia yet! I suppose it will have to wait until next week!

PS: My ah-ha moment came at the point when I saw the first grouping of Peddock’s Island cottages. I think it was the first visual understanding of how the BOHA operates as a Partnership Park, and more importantly, how private ownership and public access of lands is identified and utilized in a unique way on an island with numerous layers of history and culture.

Thanks for reading! See you next week in Acadia!

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