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

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!

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!

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

Support Your Local Nature Trail

Please consider a year-end donation to Friends of the West River Trail. Click here to make a donation.

December 2021

Greetings, 

Two years in with the COVID pandemic, it has felt really good to be part of an organization that’s providing a safe recreational venue in the Brattleboro area. As we saw in 2020, West River Trail usage has remained high throughout 2021—and it’s understandable why: most of the trail is wide enough for trail users to enjoy time connecting with one another yet be safely distanced. This has been good for residents of Brattleboro and surrounding towns, and it has been good for our economy, with the area increasingly recognized for the recreational resources it offers.

But at Friends of the West River Trail we’re not resting on our laurels. We are working actively to improve the trail, to provide rest areas along the trail, 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 support to work:

  • Through periodic work parties, we’re continuing our work to remove invasive plants from the 22-acre Riverstone Preserve. Following professional services to remove a variety of non-native plants, including oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose, buckthorn, black swallowwort, and knotweed, we have been out there controlling the residual seedings of these plants that appear. And it’s so satisfying to see that native plants are coming back!
  • We built and installed three more benches along the trail in 2021 and two additional picnic tables. These amenities are making it easier for the trail to be enjoyed by all.  
  • We now have interpretive signs along a side trail in the Riverstone Preserve, called the Sibosen Trail (Abenaki for river stone). These signs focus on the area’s natural history and Abenaki heritage.
  • We installed a low bridge across a sandy outwash area that has always been hard to maintain. This will help bicyclists from getting bogged down in sand and flowing water during periods of heavy runoff, while also providing a view of a beautiful ravine.
  • 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 purchasing additional land to expand the Riverstone Preserve and ensure protection of the entire Lower Section trail corridor. We can’t share details now, but we are hopeful that we will be able to increase the land area that Friends of the West River Trail actually owns and can fully manage for biodiversity and recreational opportunities. 
  • And 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 take advantage of land acquisition and easement protection opportunities as they come along, we need money in the bank. Please consider supporting our work.

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 through a year-end gift. You can donate online at https://westrivertrail.org/donate/

Thank you and best wishes for a healthy and safe 2022.

Lower Section Steering Committee, Friends of the West River Trail
Jason Cooper, 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