By Stefanie Jackson – One of Northampton’s hidden gems, a boardwalk overlooking the seaside behind the county landfill, was badly deteriorated but has been repaired thanks to Northampton public works staff and volunteers from Birding Eastern Shore and Eastern Shore Master Naturalists.
The birders were drawn to the project because it “fits with our mission to enhance the appreciation of birds, wildlife, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” said Martina Coker, of Birding Eastern Shore, when work began last fall.
The boardwalk was built in 2004 with a $60,000 grant from Coastal Zone Management, a federal program administered by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Northampton County received a $20,000 grant from Coastal Zone Management for the repairs, with the assistance of Birding Eastern Shore.
The work began in October 2019, and the birders and master naturalists contributed about 200 volunteer hours toward the project.
Northampton administration and landfill staff also helped make the project a success in what Supervisor John Coker called a “great team effort.”
Northampton public works staff designed and created a parking lot near the walkway, and school bus parking or parking closer to the boardwalk for accessibility are available by prior arrangement.
The boardwalk is in a prime location for birding or just enjoying nature, about two miles north of the University of Virginia research center in Oyster and four miles east of Cheriton.
The walkway passes through a forest habitat and ends at an overlook of the seaside, where visitors can use interpretive signage, made possible by the Coastal Zone Management grant and additional support by The Nature Conservancy.
The Northampton Tourism Committee has also donated money to add an observation blind on the north side of the landfill lake.
The boardwalk has been approved as an official master naturalist stewardship project, ensuring ongoing maintenance of the boardwalk by volunteers.
The seaside walkway is one of 24 sites Birding Eastern Shore recommends for birding or nature walks. To learn more, visit www.birdingeasternshore.org or download the map at www.birdingeasternshore.org/birding-map