Riverstone Preserve Workday Saturday Sept 24

It’s time to pull invasives again! We’ve been having great crews of volunteers, and it’s so gratifying to see how much we accomplish each time. And, there is a lot more to do, so please come if you can!
When: Saturday, September 24
Where:  Meet at the southern Sibosen Trailhead on the Riverstone Preserve area of the West River Trail
When:  9 AM until 11 AM
What to bring: Work gloves, water, snack, insect repellent, sun hat, enthusiasm
What we’ll be doing: Mostly pulling oriental bittersweet seedlings, buckthorn if we see it, and perhaps other invasives. We will help you identify the plants if you haven’t done this with us before.

Please email the lowersection@westrivertrail.org with questions and to let us know you’re coming. Thanks so much!

Trail Maintenance Work Day Saturday Sept 17

West River Trail

Volunteers needed and welcomed to join the Friends of the West River Trail Lower Section for a workday from 10 AM to 2 PM (you’re welcome even if you can’t stay that long).

We will meet at the Marina trailhead at 10 AM and walk in to the work site. The focus will be on clearing ditches and culverts before the leaves come down.
Wear boots, and bring water, work gloves and a rake or hoe if you have one.
Drinks and snacks will be provided. 

Please email lowersection@westrivertrail.org with questions or to let us know you’re coming. Thank you!

Workday Scheduled for August 27

Seeking volunteers for the monthly invasives pulling workday on Saturday, August 27 from 9-11 AM. 

We’ll meet at the southern Sibosen trail intersection with the West River Trail on the Riverstone Preserve at 9 AM.  Bring work gloves, water, insect repellant. 

Contact us at lowersection@westrivertrail.org with questions and to let us know you’re coming. Hope you can join us. Thank you!

Cancelled: Saturday, July 30 Invasives Pulling Workday

Please note that the “last Saturday of the month” invasives work day is cancelled for this month. However, if you have worked with us in the past and can identify oriental bittersweet seedlings, and you would like to go ahead on out to the Riverstone Preserve and work, please feel free to do that. We appreciate your help! We will host another invasives work day on Saturday, August 27 from 9 AM to 11. Please put that date in your calendars. Thank you!

A History of the West River Railroad

The West River Trail may be Vermont’s oldest transportation path. Native Americans called the West River “Wantastiquet” or “waters of the lonely way,” and the Wantastiquet path was an important connection from the West River valley and Fort Dummer in Brattleboro over the Green Mountains to Otter Creek and Lake Champlain. In 1879, this path was developed into the West River Railroad.

The public is invited to join the Dummerston Historical Society for a program on the History of the West River Railroad via Zoom on Thursday, July 21 at 7 pm.

Following a brief business meeting, Glenn Annis, a resident of Dummerston, who is considered the foremost authority on the West River Railroad, will share his research that began close to four decades ago.

Have you viewed the big stone bridge piers beside Route 30 near the Covered Bridge? Have you wondered why they are where they are? Those towers are about all that is left of the West River Railroad, a 36 mile narrow gauge line, that began in 1878 until the railroad went out of business in 1934. Glenn will talk about the history of the railroad, how it was built, the cause of its demise, and will show photographs of the railroad and the depots along the way.

If interested in attending, join The Dummerston Historical Society by Zoom:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83959312783?pwd=bGtlcmdYU0ZmaGtpUnZETDkzOTUzQT09
Meeting ID: 839 5931 2783
Passcode: 102413
Questions:  Gail at gailsvt@gmail.com

West River Trail Birding

The West River Trail was recently featured in The Berkshire Eagle as one of five places to birdwatch in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont.

A walk along the lower section of the West River Trail, which stretches from The Marina in Brattleboro to an old quarry on Rice Farm Road in Dummerston, will provide views of rich landscapes, railroad artifacts, and plenty of breeding and migratory birds. Birds you might spy on your walk on the 3.5-mile path, built on the rail bed of the former West River Railroad, include sandpipers, egrets, herons, kingfishers, woodpeckers, swallows, wood thrush, starlings and bald eagles.

Article by Jennifer Huberdeau, The Berkshire Eagle Jun 22, 2022. Click through to read the full article in the Berkshire Eagle.

Trail Workday: Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are needed to help pull invasives on the Riverstone Preserve on Saturday morning, June 25, from 9 am to 11 am.

We’ll mostly be identifying and pulling the seedlings of Oriental Bittersweet. Dan Healey, our forester from Long View Forest, Inc. will not be able to be with us that day, but there will be others who can help identify the Bittersweet and some of the other invasive species that grow on the Riverstone Preserve (21 acres of land adjacent to the West River Trail).

You can walk or bike from the Marina Trailhead to the northern boundary of the Riverstone Preserve (it’s about 1 3/4 to 2 miles from the trailhead) or you can park at the Fox Farm Rd trailhead and walk or bike in from there (shorter walk).

We’ll gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail at 9 am, so give yourself time to get to the meeting place (about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour, depending on how you’re getting there and how fast you go).  

Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant. We’ll be mostly pulling seedlings that are easy to remove. It’s satisfying work to learn to identify and keep the invasive species under control on this special piece of property. We’ll be doing this on the last Saturday morning of every month throughout the summer and fall.  

Mark the last Saturday morning of every month on your calendar for more opportunities to help with this task. Thank you and hope to see you there!

Please email lowersection@westrivertrail.org to let us know you’re coming and/or with any questions. Thank you!

Work Day Details:
West River Trail Work Day, Riverstone Preserve
Saturday June 25, 9 to 11 am (allow about 1/2 hour walk to get to meeting place)
Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant
Gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail

Some Facts about Oriental Bittersweet, courtesy of Vermont Invasives.

Asiatic bittersweet is a deciduous, woody vine that climbs saplings and trees and can grow over 60 feet in length.

The alternate, elliptical to circular leaves are light green in color and 2-5 inches long.

Small, inconspicuous, axillary, greenish-white flowers bloom from May to early June. Oriental bittersweet closely resembles American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). The main difference: Celastrus scandens has flowers and fruits at the terminal ends of branches; Celastrus orbiculatus has flowers scattered along the entire stem.

The small globose fruits are green when young; ripen to yellow; then split to reveal showy, scarlet berries that persist into winter.

Image courtesy of Vermont Invasives.

Trail Work Day: Saturday May 28

Image courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

We will be removing invasive species from The Riverstone Preserve on the last Saturday morning of every month throughout the summer and fall. Please join us to learn about invasive species and help preserve a shared natural resource. All volunteers are welcome! We’ll announce upcoming trail work days here. Stay tuned!

This coming Saturday May 28, we are seeking volunteers for a special work day.

Dan Healey, a forester from Long View Forest, Inc. will be with us, to help us identify the seedlings of Oriental Bittersweet and some of the other invasive species that grow on the Riverstone Preserve (21 acres of land adjacent to the West River Trail).

You can walk or bike in from the Marina Trailhead to the northern boundary of the Riverstone Preserve (about 1 3/4-2 miles from the trailhead) or park at the Fox Farm Rd trailhead and walk or bike in from there (shorter walk). We’ll gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail at 10 am, to start working, so give yourself time to get to the meeting place (about 1/2 hour).  

Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant. We’ll be mostly pulling seedlings that are easy to remove. It’s satisfying work to learn to identify and keep the invasive species under control on this special piece of property. We’ll be doing this on the last Saturday morning of every month throughout the summer and fall.  

Please email lowersection@westrivertrail.org to let us know you’re coming and/or with any questions. Thank you!

Work Day Details:
West River Trail Work Day, Riverstone Preserve
Saturday May 28 10 am – 12 pm (allow about 1/2 hour walk to get to meeting place)
Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant
Gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail

West River Trail Tree Report

Happy Spring from the West River Trail! It’s so exciting to see the first wildflowers emerge. Read more below about the fate of some of the trees we planted last year as part of the 350 VT Rewilding project

Tree report and tree and wildflower photos courtesy of Jesse Wagner.

It’s amazing how much the Riverstone Preserve got scoured by the winter ice! The Hepatica, Dutchmen’s Breeches, Trout Lilies are in bloom and the Bloodroot and Trillium are starting to open.  

I was unable to locate the southernmost tree (Hackberry) that we planted last year with all of the new driftwood berms, but we found the tube that had previously protected it about 100’ away. This was another Hackberry tree along the river that was also directly affected by the scouring  movement of the giant ice chunks. I was just barely able to see this tube buried under brush completely flat and bend it back to shape. The tree is still alive!  Not sure how alive yet though. The hazelnuts by the new bridge are doing great but the ones out in the middle of the wetland have been deer browsed heavily. If they bud after all, I will put larger tubes on them to protect them from future browsing. I haven’t recently checked on the trees by the log near the picnic table in Riverstone Preserve trail, the two living trees at Rice Farm Rd kiosk or the two shagbark trees at the northwest corner of Riverstone Preserve trail, but I hope they are doing well.  

School Of The Forest Podcast: The Value of Outdoor Spaces

Recently Christopher Russell, Director; School Of The Forest and Lead Instructor; Jack Mountain Bushcraft School interviewed Steve Shriner and Kathleen about the West River Trail.

Click through to hear the full podcast – The Value Of Accessible Outdoor Spaces With Kathleen White And Steve Shriner Of The Friends Of The West River Trail.

School Of The Forest offers an environment in which young people and adults can learn outdoor skills that they can use for a lifetime. Christopher discovered the West River Trail a couple of years ago when scouting locations for his course on canoe poling, and recently reached out to learn more about the Friends of the West River Trail organization.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Russell, School of the Forest.