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

Trail Benches

In 2021, we built and installed three more benches and two additional picnic tables along the trail. These amenities are making it easier for the trail to be enjoyed by all.  

Pictured above, trail users enjoying the new benches along the trail.

If you enjoy using the trail, please consider including The West River Trail in your year-end giving plan. Click through to learn more about making a donation.

Volunteers needed to Pull Oriental Bittersweet

West River Trail, Autumn 2016

Volunteers are needed to pull Oriental Bittersweet on the Riverstone Preserve, Sunday, October 24 from 9:30 to noon. Hope you can join us!

This might be our last outing to work on removing invasive plants before the frost. It’s fun, meditative, educational, and so important for controlling these plants that can take over and weaken the trees. Our local botanist friend, Mike Duffy, will be there to help identify invasives and other interesting plants.

Special bonus! You will have an opportunity to view the interesting new interpretive trail on the Riverstone Preserve–the Sibosen Trail (Abenaki for River Stone).

Wear weather appropriate clothing. Bring work gloves, water, and a snack. We’ll meet at 9:30 at the junction of the Fox Farm Rd access trail and the West River Trail. (Just past the northern boundary of the Riverstone Preserve). For more information or to let us know you’re coming, please contact us at lowersection@westrivertrail.org. Thank you and hope to see you there!

West River Trail Workday a Success

Many thanks to our dedicated trail workday volunteers!

Eight volunteers had a beautiful morning on the Riverstone Preserve on Sunday, September 26. The air was cool and fresh, the West River sparkling in the sunshine, and leaves were floating down. Starting at the north end, we walked the loop trail and pulled mostly Oriental Bittersweet seedlings growing along the trail edge. As we pulled, we also identified interesting plants, with the help of local botanist Mike Duffy. Having completed the interior of the loop on our work day a month ago, we worked our way beyond the south leg of the trail, finding copious amounts of bittersweet seedlings to pull. Very gratifying.

Many thanks to our volunteers: Diana Clark, Mike Duffy, Hank Lange, Eric Pofcher, Jesse Wagner, Kathleen White , and Jerelyn and Alex Wilson! Look for the announcement about our next invasives work day. All are welcome to join.

Thanks to Diana Clark for the photos.

Reminder: Volunteer Work Day this Sunday

Join us on Sunday, September 26, 9:30-noon to learn how to identify rare plants and invasives with Mike Duffy, local botanist, and help clear the Riverstone Preserve of invasive plants, too! Bring work gloves, water, insect repellant, and snack. We’ll meet at the intersection of the Fox Farm Access road and the West River Trail. Email us at lowersection@westrivertrail.org to let us know you’re coming. Thank you!

West River Trail Workday

Learn plant ID and pull invasives while you’re doing it!

Join local botanist Mike Duffy and volunteers on Sunday, August 29 and/or Sunday, September 26 from 9:30 to 12:30 to help manage invasive species on the Riverstone Preserve.

We will meet where the Fox Farm Access trail meets the West River Trail, then go together onto the Riverstone Preserve to continue where we left off on our last work day on August 1st.
 
It’s nice, quiet work with time for conversation and identifying invasives as well as other plant species. We will be working mostly on pulling Oriental Bittersweet seedlings, which come up easily.

Please be in touch with any questions or to let us know you’re coming at lowersection@westrivertrail.org.

Thanks and hope to see you there!

Trail Work Day August 1st

Come learn to identify plants (especially invasive plants) and help remove them from the Riverstone Preserve at the same time! 

The Friends of the West River Trail are hosting a volunteer work day on Sunday, August 1 from 9:30 am to 1 pm.  

Dan Healey of LongView Forest (whose crew has been working on invasive mitigation on the RP for the last 3 summers) will be there to help us with identification and pulling methods. Mike Duffy, who is a botanist and has been creating an inventory of all the plants on the WRT will also be there.

Bring work gloves, water to drink, a snack, and a plastic trash bag. We will meet where the Fox Farm Rd access road meets the West River Trail, near the northern border of the Riverstone Preserve. For questions and to let us know you are coming, email lowersection@westrivertrail.org

Thanks and we hope to see you there!

Please Support the West River Trail

We need your support at Friends of the West River Trail. Please consider a year-end donation.

2020 has been a year like no other. The impact of COVID-19 on all of us has been extraordinary. It has been a hard year for everyone, and we so hope that our friends are healthy, that our community remains strong, and that the Brattleboro economy recovers.

At Friends of the West River Trail we feel very good that we’ve been able to improve the lives of many during these challenging times – even if just a little. The West River Trail that we manage has seen an upsurge in usage since the outset of the pandemic. 

While there were tens of users per day last year, this year there have been hundreds of users on a nice weekend. Even during the week, the trail from near the Marina Restaurant out to Rice Farm Road in Dummerston has seen a dramatic increase in use. Data collection from the Windham Regional Commission shows trail usage up 60% to 80% this year, compared with 2019. Most of us are sticking close to home, and the Trail offers a safe way to get outdoors. Because it’s a wide trail, we can practice responsible social distancing as we visit with friends and family in a spectacular setting.

2020 has also strained our collective pocketbooks. Many restaurants are struggling to stay afloat, and our region hasn’t been able to benefit from out-of-state visitors who usually shop in our stores and support other local businesses. These impacts ripple through the economy, including charitable giving.

We need your support at Friends of the West River Trail. Please consider a year-end donation.

How we are putting your support to work:

  • We’re continuing work to remove invasive plants from the 22-acre Riverstone Preserve that we own. The area has been dominated by a variety of non-native plants, including oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose, buckthorn, black swallowwort, and Japanese knotweed. But with the help of Long View Forest, Inc., we’re getting the better of it, and a recent walk on the Preserve with a local botanist showed that native plants are coming back!
  • We built and installed two benches at the I-91 bridge that provide a place to rest and look out over the river, and we’re currently building two additional picnic tables. We are also planning to install more benches along the trail.
  • We’re adding signage, including some interpretive signs focused on the area’s natural history; look for those in the coming months.
  • We’re continuing regular trail maintenance, removing down trees, and dealing with some of the challenging drainage problems.
  • Most importantly, we’re looking to the future and the possibility of purchasing additional land to expand the Riverstone Preserve, to ensure protection of the entire Lower Section trail corridor, and to help create a network of linked trails along the Connecticut River and extending into New Hampshire. To be able to take advantage of land acquisition and easement protection opportunities as they come along, we need money in the bank.

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.

For more information and to make a donation, please visit The West River Trail DONATE page. Please click through to MAKE A DONATION to support the West River Trail.

Thank you and best wishes for a healthy and safe 2021.

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