Huge thanks to the bridge prep crew – Elia Hamilton, Jesse Wagner, Malcolm Moore, Steve Shriner and Alex Wilson – for their contribution to trail improvements! All of this work takes financial and volunteer support. To help with these ongoing efforts to improve the trail, please consider a donation to the West River Trail. We welcome your support in any way you would like to give. Sign up on the website to receive email alerts about Volunteer Work Days and other events, and/or go to our Donate page to make a donation! Thank you!
The letter below is posted on behalf of Steve Shriner, West River Trail Steering Committee. Thanks to Alex Wilson for the photos of the bridge building workshop.
The WRT trail took a new turn recently with the opening of a rerouted portion of the trail in the Riverstone Preserve. This area, known locally as the “sandy area”, suffered from erosion and silt buildup from flooding. The flow of water across the trail from an upstream ravine had become more or less permanent.
The new trail parallels the old and includes a bridge over the stream made from locally sourced locust. In addition to the efforts of our volunteer steering committee, a volunteer group of employees from Nasdaq OneReport completed the final bridge assembly and helped finish the trail. Thanks to all who supported this project!
Projects like this enhance the Trail and make it more accessible and safe for all to use. To help with these ongoing efforts, please consider a donation to the West River Trail. Donate information can be found on our Donate Tab from the home page of the West River Trail website, and by clicking here. Thanks!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’re coming. Thank you!
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 email@example.com.
The West River Trail is now home to two new beautiful benches.
The benches were built by Stephen Shriner using a design by Aldo Leopold. Great for taking a pause along the trail, the unique design of the benches has an upper rail as a support for taking a photo, using binoculars or simply savoring the view. They are made from the same white oak lumber that Jim used for the new picnic tables.
As always, improvements to the trail are a team effort, and made possible with the help of many hands. The benches were built and installed by Steve Shriner with land clearing and installation assistance from Alex Wilson. A RiseVT Amplify grant provided the financial support. Mark Anderson of Trevett Millworks donated the white oak lumber, Jesse Wagner made the connection for the donation of the lumber, and Jesse and Mark Westa picked up and delivered the lumber to Jim.
The West River Trail received 12 free trees from 350Vermont as part of a project called ReWild Vermont. 350Vermont is offering free trees to individuals and non-profits in an effort to get more trees planted to help with carbon sequestration, provide food for wildlife and humans, and all the other great things trees do for us.
350Vermont organizes, educates, and supports people in Vermont to work together for climate justice – resisting fossil fuels, building momentum for alternatives, and transforming our communities toward justice and resilience. Click through to read more.
The 8 American Hazelnut trees, 2 Hackberry, and 2 Shagbark Hickory trees were planted on Saturday, May 8. Jesse Wagner coordinated the tree planting effort, by locating sites for planting, picking up the trees, getting tree tubes, stakes and mulch, and getting tools together. Other members of the FWRT Lower Section Steering Committee (Jason Cooper, Matt Mann, Steve Shriner and Kathleen White) came out to help dig holes, plant, and water the young trees.
The Lower Section Steering Committee will monitor rainfall amounts and water the trees as needed. Most of the trees were planted on the Riverstone Preserve, with 3 hazelnuts planted near the new picnic table at the Rice Farm Road Trailhead. Trail users may notice the tubed and staked trees as they walk along the trail.
Many thanks to 350Vermont for providing the trees!
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’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
The Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) Lower Section Steering Committee has a rewarding volunteer opening for someone who can help organize and file the papers documenting the work of making the West River Trail accessible to all.
Do you have a special interest or skill in organizing files/papers? Do you love nature trails? Would you like to help organize and document the work of a local non-profit? Do you have a little extra time in your schedule to help support the West River Trail?
Or maybe you know of someone else who may be interested? If so, please share this announcement with them. Thank you!
About the FWRT: Organized in 1992, the Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the establishment of a 36-mile scenic trail through the West River Valley – eventually linking Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica and South Londonderry.
The FWRT’s mission is 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. Coordinate local, state and federal interests in planning, funding, construction, management and use of the trail system.
Please consider supporting the West River Trail on Giving Tuesday and in your end of year giving. With your support, we can continue to maintain and enhance the Trail for our local and visitor community.
People make trails. Take a walk down the West River Trail and you will see a cross section of our community. Couples strolling hand in hand, kids on their first bike ride, runners preparing for their first marathon, and awestruck out-of-state visitors getting a closeup view of the I-91 bridge. The West River Trail continues to flourish and has become a local destination.
The support of the trail has come about in large part because of the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers. The Friends of the West River Trail ensures that the trail is maintained by trimming and repairing the trailbed, contracting for invasives control, and providing signage and maps to spread the word about this important community asset. We work to grow the trail, with possible land acquisitions and extensions of the trail.
With your support, we look to continue this work in several ways over the coming year:
Ongoing improvement of the West River trail. Over the coming year this will include the new sign on Rice Farm Road, benches, picnic tables and interpretive signs in the Riverstone Preserve. We also will continue our efforts at invasives control and drainage improvement.
Partner with other trail networks with the goal of providing continuous trail access throughout Brattleboro. We have worked over the past year on a vision for connected trail networks. We strive to work with other trail organizations to create a trail network to provide not only recreational opportunities, but realistic modes of transportation to help our region lessen its dependence on automobiles, reducing contributions to climate change. A network of safe, functional, connected pathways is key to this vision.
Continuation of the trail from the West River south to the unused rail bridge crossing the Connecticut river just south of downtown. We are now working to understand the various rights of way needed and any legal obstacles to making this a reality.
We would appreciate your support of these efforts though a year end gift. Click on the link to donate online or mail a donation to: West River Trail, Lower Section, 138 Elliot St, Suite 3, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301.
Best wishes from the Trail, with thanks for considering a gift to the West River Trail.
FRIENDS OF THE WEST RIVER TRAIL
Lower Section steering committee: Lester Humphreys (chair) Jason Cooper Wendy Ferris Matt Mann Malcolm Moore Steve Shriner Jesse Wagner Mark Westa Kathleen White Alex Wilson
Fundraising committee: Orly Munzing Brett Morrison Marcia Steckler Tom Yahn
Recent maintenance work on the West River Trail tackled clogged drainage ditches and fallen trees. Trail workers cleared drainage areas and chainsawed downed logs. A huge thanks to trail volunteers for their hard work!
Volunteers needed for West River Trail work day! Wednesday May 15 4 PM to 6:30 PM
We will meet at 3:45 PM on Wednesday, May 15 at the Marina Trailhead and plan to head out on the trail at 4 PM. We will mostly be doing drainage clearing, though a few people will be chainsawing downed logs. All in all the trail is in great shape, but we need to clear the leaves and debris out of the drainage ditches along the wetter areas of the trail. Bring mud boots, gloves, bug dope, water and an iron rake or hoe if you have one. We have extra tools, if needed. Optional gathering at the Marina Restaurant afterwards! For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working out on the trail with you!