July 10, 2008

Audubon Society’s Boardwalk Reopens


BRISTOL -- Two months after a devastating fire, the nature boardwalk at the Audubon Society's Environmental Education Center is back in business.

Officials and children from the center's summer camp cut the ribbon Tuesday to reopen the quarter-mile-long facility, one third of which was destroyed by the April 17 fire that ran along the Warren-Bristol shoreline. Fire crews had to cut out parts of the deck to prevent the blaze from spreading.

"We're back in business. This tremendous community asset has been reopened," said Lawrence Taft, executive director of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

Some signs of the fire still exist, including charred trees and brush. But much of the grass has grown back. Some planks on the deck have black spots, where embers landed and burned, but caused no real damage.

The portions of the boardwalk that were replaced, along with railings and decking that was repaired, are distinguishable by the color of the new wood.

A crew of seven did the work in 12 business days, said Taft. "We were quite surprised that everything fell together [so quickly], that contractors that came in, the insurance company, the neighbors who let us access the boardwalk. It all fell into place."

The boardwalk, just south of the Bristol-Warren town line, is accessible from the center's McIntosh Wildlife Refuge off Route 114 and from the East Bay Bike Path.

Taft said the society is planning an Aug. 2 open house to celebrate the restoration.

Visitors return to the boardwalk, in Bristol, which was damaged by fire in April. For a video tour, visit www.projo.com/video THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL / C. EUGENE EMERY JR. [email protected] / (401) 277-7442

Originally published by C EUGENE EMERY JR, Journal Staff Writer.

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