From Dream to Reality

viewsPosted on behalf of Alex Wilson.

In this in-depth article, Friends of the West River Trail Steering Committee member and Dummerston resident Alex Wilson describes efforts going back to 1997 to formalize the West River Trail on the lower section of the West River Railroad bed. The article is from Views of Dummerston, Spring 2018.  Click on pages 1, 12 and 13 to the read the article on the Views website. The full 3-page article can be viewed as a single document by clicking on this PDF – views-of-dummerston-from-dreams-to-reality-spring-2018

Mountain Laurel in Bloom

The mountain laurel is in bloom along the West River Trail. If you have not walked the trail to/from the Rice Farm Road trailhead lately, now is the time. Enjoy!

Kalmia latifolia, commonly called mountain laurel, calico-bush, or spoonwood, is a broadleaved evergreen shrub in the heather family, Ericaceae, that is native to the eastern United States.

The West River Railroad Museum

Interested in a little history about the West River Railroad? The beautifully restored Railroad Station in Newfane, Vermont will soon be opening for the summer season. The West River Railroad Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, manuscripts, photographs and documents on exhibit.

The Historical Society of Windham County announced the Grand Opening of the West River Railroad Museum in October, 2017. Since the purchase of the Station in 2014, The Windham County Historical Society has been restoring the Depot Building and its associated Water Tank House in Newfane, Vermont. Click HERE for the BCTV (Brattleboro Community TV) video of the grand opening.

The Museum of the Historical Society of Windham County is on the east side of Route 30 in the Historic Village of Newfane, diagonally across from the County Courthouse and the Newfane Common. The Museum is open from Memorial Day weekend in May through Columbus Day weekend in October, and is located on the main street (Rt.30) in Newfane, VT. For hours and information click HERE.

Confluence Lantern Paddle

Lanterns, image courtesy Gowri Savoor.Something very cool is happening on the West River this month! Join a lantern lit paddle at the confluence of the West and Connecticut Rivers or come watch from the riverside. The Lantern Paddle is part of an extensive program of community events around the Confluence Project. Don’t miss out on this joyful parade of lanterns and luminaries to celebrate our rivers on Friday, May 25, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm.

For details and to register for lantern making workshops and the Lantern Paddle, visit the Vermont Performance Lab events webpage.  This flotilla will incorporate the handmade lanterns made by the community at workshops with artist Gowri Savoor on May 15, May 17 and May 19. Sign up for lantern making workshops at the River Gallery School. Participants are encouraged to join the paddle on land or water.

Co-organized by the Vermont Performance Lab and the Connecticut River Conservancy.
Sponsored by The Marina Restaurant & co-sponsored by the Vermont Canoe Touring Center.

From the Vermont Performance Lab website: The Confluence Project is an ambitious experiment in creative place-making that demonstrates an in-depth model for bringing arts, youth, community groups, regional planners and educational institutions to the civic dialogue table to take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of watersheds.

 

Early Spring Trail Report (Southern Section)

The Southern Section of the West River Trail is emerging from the grip of winter’s snow and ice. Though patches of snow still hug the trail, the muddy sections are a sure sign of early spring.  Alongside the trail, hunks of ice cling to the banks of the West River, but the geese have returned to swim in the open waters. The rock cliffs are drenched with spring melt, the few remaining icicles disappearing rapidly, wildflowers to follow soon.

Connecting Communities: The West River Trail is Expanding  

wrt spring 2013 elin waagen 4Connecting Communities: The West River Trail is Expanding: Friends of the West River Trail and The Nature Conservancy Collaborate to Grow Public Access.

The Friends of the West River Trail Inc. (FWRT) recently secured 13.7 acres of woodland in South Londonderry, Vermont, achieving strategic goals related to enhancing and expanding the existing West River Trail (WRT) – an off-road path that is popular year-round with locals and visitors of all ages and abilities.

Overall, this opportunity brings the FWRT that much closer to realizing its founding vision of completing a 36-mile scenic, multi-modal trail linking the West River Valley towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica, and South Londonderry , once connected by the West River Railroad which ran from 1880 to the1930s.

For the past 25 years, FWRT has been working in partnership with state and federal organizations including Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation, US Army Corps of Engineers, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy, as well as private landowners, to reclaim and reconnect remnants of the original railroad bed and adjacent lands for year-round recreational use and multiple resource values.

By acquiring this particular privately owned parcel, public access to what is known as the ‘Upper Section’ of the WRT (South Londonderry to Townshend Lake ) can be improved for an even better user-experience, says Greg Meulemans, current FWRT Board President.

“We are thrilled to finally secure this piece of property for all to use in the future. With ambitious fundraising to complete the transaction, clean up the remains of an old junkyard and redevelop this parcel, FWRT can move forward to preserve the very popular northern access point to the 16-mile section of the trail. Our plan is to enhance the access to the trail and the surrounding area by creating designated parking, building an informational kiosk and developing an expanded trail network.”

The FWRT concept of “an expanded trail network” is further supported by a concurrent neighboring land transaction by which The Nature Conservancy (TNC) acquired and permanently protected 102 acres adjacent to the Winhall Brook Natural Area, already owned by the Conservancy. The collective conservation of these parcels will help safeguard the West River itself and the freshwater species that rely on it for habitat, such as American shad, American eel, brook trout, and state-threatened freshwater mussels.

“This project is a great example of protecting a stage for biodiversity while also increasing public access to a community trail that helps connect people with nature. It’s a win-win to work with great local conservation partners like Friends of the West River,” said Jon Binhammer, Director of Land Protection for The Nature Conservancy.

To donate online to the West River Trail Upper Section (credit card or PayPal), please click on the WRT DONATE page. Or, mail your gift to West River Trail (Upper Section), P.O. Box 2086, S. Londonderry, Vermont 05155

Posted on behalf of:

Greg Meulemans, The Friends of the West River Trail, 802-366-0689
Eve Frankel, The Nature Conservancy, 802.595.5000

Friends of the West River Trail
Organized in 1992, the Friends of the West River Trail Inc. (FWRT) is a 501c3 non-profit organization working to: develop and maintain a publicly accessible system of paths along the West River corridor for educational, recreational and alternative transportation purposes; promote public awareness and enjoyment of the recreational path system and of the history, geology and biota of the West River valley; and coordinate local, state and federal interests in planning, funding, construction, management and use of the trail system. Please visit: www.westrivertrail.org for trail maps, volunteer opportunities and current information.

The Nature Conservancy in Vermont is a leader in safeguarding the natural resources of the Green Mountain State. We have helped conserve over 300,000 acres of land, 1,200 miles of shoreline, and we manage and maintain 55 natural areas that are open for hiking, fishing, snowshoeing and hunting. The Vermont chapter is proud to be connecting land, water, and wildlife for over 50 years. To learn more and support our important work, please visit: www.nature.org/vermont.

A Bridge to Nature

A short walk from the Marina Trailhead on the West River Trail sits one of two riverside viewing platforms. The other is located directly across the river, and can be accessed from Vermont Route 30. The twin platforms are part of the new I-91 bridge, completed in Autumn 2017. A short walk from the bustle of town, directly below a busy highway,  the viewing platforms sit close to nature and the flow of the river.