Greetings ~ from the lower section of the West River Trail!
The Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) now has the right of way for the land from the old West River Railroad bed — from the parking area near the Marina in Brattleboro to the old quarry on Rice Farm Rd in Dummerston! It is exciting to have the support of our corporate sponsors, our friends and neighbors—the entire community is wonderful, and we thank you all!
The recent history of this acquisition started with members of the Brattleboro Energy Committee who were interested in increasing opportunities for active methods of transportation. We began thinking about improving that stretch of the West River Rail Bed, so that bicyclers could use it to commute to town. (The 3.7 miles to Rice Farm Road has been used unofficially for years by walkers, skiers, snowshoers and mountain bikers). We met with the FWRT, based in Londonderry, in spring of 2011 and subsequently decided to join them, and named ourselves the Lower Section Sub-committee. Many people have worked diligently off and on over the past 10 to 15 years towards establishing this section of the railroad bed as a public trail. Their work and research laid the groundwork for the recent acquisition of the land. It is now official! The lower section is marked and open to the public!
- Contacted all abutting landowners to let them know about our ownership of the railroad bed and plans for improvements.
- Acquired liability insurance and investigated all sorts of legal matters.
- Organized a fundraising committee, who had a beautiful brochure designed and printed, compliments of Dede Cummings of dcdesigns and the C&S print shop.
- The fundraising committee raised $35,000, completing our Phase 1 goal and enabling us to receive a matching grant from Thompson Trust for $10,000.
- Applied and have been awarded a Vermont Youth Conservation Corps grant. We will have a VYCC work crew for 3-4 weeks during summer of 2013.
- Held 3 successful volunteer workdays in the fall of 2011, 2 in spring of 2012 and 3 during the fall of 2012, during which we moved rocks, dug and ditched to mitigate wet areas, chain sawed and moved fallen trees and removed lots of old tires. The trail looks great and is now much easier to navigate!
- Jason Cooper worked with a local excavator, Eric Smith, who volunteered his time and equipment to install a few culverts and some large stones to mark the trail head at the Rice Farm end.
- Contacted the local and state police, fire and rescue to inform them about the trail and arranged for keys to gain vehicular access to it. The Brattleboro Police Bicycle Brigade is patrolling the trail 2 to 3 times weekly, weather and snow permitting.
- Designed, printed and installed FWRT trail signs and guidelines for using trail.
- Two kiosks were built and installed, one at each end of the trail, compliments of Morse and Mindell builders, with materials discounted from Home Depot, Keene, NH.
- Trail maps for the upper and lower sections are available, compliments of Jeff Nugent.
- Developed a long list of interested volunteers.
- Created a new design for the FWRT website, with the professional assistance of Dede Cummings of dcdesign. We also have a volunteer web designer, Elin Waagen, helping to keep the website updated.
- Offered a bid on a piece of adjacent waterfront property, that would provide a picnic area on the river and other possibilities.
- We put down a layer of road stone on a flat ½ mile section of trail beginning just north of the I-91 bridge, covering lots of bumpy roots and rocks. This new surface survived the winter well and is only moist in places that used to be wet and muddy.
We look forward to:
- Organizing more workdays!
- Conducting a rare plant inventory.
- Organizing fundraising events.
- Getting out on the trail!
Lower Section Steering Committee Members
Jason Cooper, Chair and Trail Work Coordinator