West River Trail Annual Letter: Southern Section

Greetings,

2022 has proven – once again – that outdoor recreational opportunities are very important to individuals, families, and the community – in hard times and in good. The West RiverTrail continues to serve as a place to enjoy our world, alone or with others, while being able to be safely distanced; and it is also a place of community, happiness, and joy.

Use of the trail continues to be very strong. Recent trail counts provided by the Windham Regional Commission show that there are typically 80-90 trail users per day, with peak usage topping 150 walkers, runners, riders, and other trail enthusiasts.  For Brattleboro and the region, the West River Trail is not only a place for outdoor recreation, but it is also good for our economy and our community, helping to attract people to the stores, restaurants, and cultural institutions of our area.

Friends of the West River Trail continues to work to improve and maintain the trail; to provide benches and picnic tables for rest and relaxation; to protect the land along the trail, and to improve the ecosystem health on the Riverstone Preserve.  To do this work, we need your help. Please consider a year-end donation to Friends of the West River Trail – Lower Section, to support this work.

Here’s how we’ve been putting your past support to work:

-We acquired an additional eight-acre parcel along the trail – the Town Line Parcel –which spans the Brattleboro-Dummerston town line and includes about a half-mile of the trail.

-We are using professional control services, along with the work of committed community volunteers, to continue our efforts to remove invasive plants from the 22-acre Riverstone Preserve. This includes removal of a variety of non-native plants and their residual seedlings, including: Asiatic bittersweet, multiflora rose, glossy buckthorn, black swallowwort, Japanese knotweed, and bush honeysuckle. And it’s so satisfying to see that native plants are coming back in place of these invasives!

-We installed additional benches.

-We’re continuing regular trail maintenance, removing fallen trees, and dealing with some of the challenging drainage problems.

-We are in discussions with a number of landowners along the trail about the possibility of acquiring additional land to expand the Riverstone Preserve and ensure protection of the entire Lower Section trail corridor. We are hopeful that we will be able to increase the land area that Friends of the West River Trail can fully manage for biodiversity and recreational opportunities.

-We are working with other organizations in the region to create a network of linked trails along the Connecticut River and extending into New Hampshire.

To be able to continue this important work on the trail and to take advantage of land acquisition and easement protection opportunities as they come along, we need community support. Please consider donating today.

Friends of the West River Trail is a nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organization that is 100% volunteer run. Those of us on the Lower Section Steering Committee are your neighbors in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, and Marlboro—working to provide critically important recreational opportunities for our community.  Please consider supporting these efforts by going to the Lower Section donate button on the West River Trail donate page.

Thank you and best wishes for a healthy and safe 2023,

Lower Section Steering Committee, Friends of the West River Trail

Jason Cooper, Brattleboro
Peter Doran, Brattleboro
Elia Hamilton, Newfane
Lester Humphreys, Brattleboro
Matt Mann, Brattleboro
Malcolm Moore, Marlboro
Steve Shriner, Brattleboro
Jesse Wagner, Dummerston
Mark Westa, Brattleboro
Kathleen White, Brattleboro
Alex Wilson, Dummerston

New Memorial Bench on the West River Trail

A new bench along the West River, just a couple of hundred yards down from The Marina on the West River Trail, is dedicated to Linda Dierks and her father, Valmore Horton Smith.

The bench on the West River, in an area Dierks loved to row, is made of stone donated by artist Dan Snow and stands on black pipe rescued from an old boiler that was pulled out of the Latchis Theatre years ago. The stone and pipe were brought together by Rich Gillis, of Mystic Metallurgy.

Read the full story, written by Bob Audette at The Brattleboro Reformer.

Thank You Trail Volunteers!

On a warm, beautiful Saturday afternoon, at the end of October, we had our last invasive workday of the season, pulling invasives on the Riverstone Preserve. 

Here’s Eric Reinz, one of our dedicated volunteers, holding a handful of asiatic bittersweet seedlings. 

Though we are finished for the year, we plan to be back at it as soon as we can, in the spring of 2023.

We are so grateful for all the volunteers who showed up to help with this effort this year. Together, we pulled a lot of bittersweet seedlings (and some glossy buckthorn), which is a necessary and hugely important part of the management strategy following professional treatments.

Thank you, thank you!

West River Trail Winter Pop-up Market

The Winter Market in South Londonderry is back. Come to the Historic Depot Station (off Route 100) on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for hot food and locally-made crafts.

This community-led market is sponsored by the Friends of the West River Trail and will be open at the same time every Saturday until Dec. 17, featuring different vendors each weekend.

For more information contact Kyle Cohen at klc0319@gmail.com.

Last Trail Workday of the Season

Please join us on Saturday, October 29, 1-3 pm to work on removing the Bittersweet seedlings on the Riverstone Preserve one last time in 2022. We’ll meet at the Sibosen Trail intersection with the West River Trail at 1 pm. Bring work gloves, water, snack. The day is predicted to be nice, sunny and 60. (It takes about 1/2 hour to walk in from the Marina, or the Rice Farm Rd trailheads; maybe 20 minutes from the Fox Farm Rd trailhead).

Email us at lowersection@westrivertrail.org for more information and to let us know you’re coming. Thank you!

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