Answers to some Frequently Asked
What are WETLANDS, PEATLANDS, AND BOGS?
The 616 acre
Orono Bog is a wetland. Wetlands have soils that are water saturated, and plants
that can tolerate wet soil. Orono Bog is a special kind of wetland called a
peatland because of its deep layer of peat. A bog is a peatland with acidic and
infertile soil, and with abundant peat moss and other acid tolerant plants. The
central half of Orono Bog has been raised by peat accumulation to a higher level
than at the edge, so it is called a raised bog. The raised surface, combined
with the great thickness of the peat and the remoteness of the central area from
the mineral soil of the upland, results in extreme infertility and dwarfed plant
What is PEAT?
Peat consists of
the undecomposed remains of plants, including mosses, leaves, seeds, branches,
and even the trunks of trees. Oxygen from the air canít pass through water
saturated soil as fast as it is used up by early stages of the decay process.
Further decay is greatly slowed by lack of oxygen. If plant remains are added to
the soil faster than they can decay, peat accumulates.
What is the HISTORY OF THE ORONO BOG BASIN?
years ago, the glacier melted away and the area was invaded by the sea. A layer
of silt and clay was deposited on the bottom of the sea. After a few hundred
years, the land rose out of the sea. Small lakes formed in some low parts of the
basin. Other parts of the basin supported non-wetland vegetation for about 4000
years. Around 11,200 years ago, the climate became wetter, and the poorly
drained silt-clay soils of the basin became waterlogged. This condition allowed
wetland plants to spread over the entire basin. Since then, the basin has
remained wet, and thousands of generations of wetland plants have added their
remains to a deepening layer of peat Ė now as deep as 25 feet in some parts of
What is the FAY HYLAND TRACT?
University-owned part of the Orono Bog is named in honor of Fay Hyland, a
beloved botany professor who frequented the bog with his students.
What was the
process for BUILDING THE BOARDWALK?
consists of 509 8-ft long by 4-ft wide boardwalk sections made out of rough
sawn hemlock lumber. The lumber was all cut to size and assembled at a
boardwalk assembly area where the inner or bus parking lot is now located
(near boardwalk: see map on this website). The cut lumber was dipped in a
waterproofing bath, and then assembled into sections using jigs to assure
uniformity of boardwalk sections.
trail, already surveyed and marked the prior winter, was cleared and leveled
to receive the boardwalk sections. Leveling and clearing were kept to a
minimum to preserve the natural character of the bog. This boardwalk "floats"
atop the water saturated peat. Footings, consisting either of plastic-wood
composite material or dock floats were placed on the trail to receive the
boardwalk sections. These footings hold the boardwalk above spring high water
to extend the life of the boardwalk by keeping the wood dry.
section was rolled out on a special cart to the boardwalk trail and placed
atop its footings. The boardwalk was extended like constructing a railroad.
Each time a new section was put in place, the boardwalk got longer. The new
section was rolled to the end of the already emplaced boardwalk where it was
put in place. Sections were placed in this way at the right and left sides of
the 3400 foot long boardwalk loop, until the two sides joined in the middle of
the bog, and a "golden spike" celebration took place. The 509 8-foot long
sections do not quite total to the 4200 ft long boardwalk because additional
length is added by wedge-shaped structures wherever the boardwalk takes a
The boardwalk took
8 months to build -- June-November 2002 and May-June 2003 -- by an average of
4 builders per day. The work was done by the Maine Conservation Corps,
Charleston Correction Facility personnel, and over 100 individual volunteers.