Christine needed some community service credits. While walking on the trail with her family a few weeks ago, she noticed there was trash that needed to be picked up and decided right then that she would like to give back to the trail. She contacted Friends of the West River Trail and asked if we would sign off on her community service and we agreed. On Saturday, April 21, Earth Day, she and her husband Joe and daughter Ella spent about 3 hours and accumulated 3 large plastic bags worth of trash from the trail. Thank you so much Christine, Joe and Ella! We are so pleased that you chose the West River Trail for your community service and cleaned it up for all trail users to enjoy!
The Champagne Hikers of Western MA/Southern VT were out on the trail in force on April 11! They hiked 7 1/2 miles from Black Mountain to the Marina, stopping for a break at the picnic table on the Riverstone Preserve. Malcolm Moore of the FWRT lower section steering committee was on the hike and overheard another hiker say “this trail is a treasure!” She’s right! Time to get back on the trail if you took a break over the winter. Come out and look for signs of spring.
Photos by Malcolm Moore.
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.
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.
Dear Friend of the West River Trail:
As 2017 draws to a close, we invite you to include the Friends of the West River Trail (Lower Section) in your year-end giving.
As you may know, the Friends have faced some legal issues arising from property ownership questions along the trail. While the court has ruled in our favor, this matter has considerably depleted our financial resources and our ability to carry on the maintenance and development of the trail.
Your year-end gift will help us to continue our work on:
Repair and maintenance of the trail surface and drainage culverts (including repairs of washouts and sand intrusion resulting from this summer’s heavy rains)
Control of invasive species in the Riverstone Preserve
Protection of rare and endangered species along the trail
Extension of the trail to the downtown Brattleboro railroad station, and south from there to the old railroad bridge that connects to a large network of New Hampshire trails
Potential acquisition of additional land adjacent to the trail
Promotion of trail usage through distribution of maps as well as our website and Facebook page
If you have not visited the trail recently, please do! At the Marina trailhead, you’ll find a new information kiosk with trail map dispensers. Under the magnificent new I-91 bridge, the trail is fully restored and there is a beautiful platform for viewing the West River. Just south of the Riverstone Preserve is a stone stairway to the river’s edge, constructed by the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. The trail is seeing more and more usage, year-round, by hikers, runners, cyclists, skiers and snowshoers.
Again, please help the Friends with a generous donation to permit us to continue to protect, improve and extend the West River Trail.
To donate online (credit card or PayPal), please click here. Or, mail your gift to West River Trail (Lower Section), 138 Elliot St, Suite 3, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301.
With all best wishes,
FRIENDS OF THE WEST RIVER TRAIL Lower Section steering and fundraising committees: Lester Humphreys (chair), Kathleen White, Jason Cooper, Malcolm Moore, Alex Wilson, Matt Mann, Wendy Harrison, Judy Davidson, Orly Munzing, Brett Morrison, Marcia Steckler, Tom Yahn, Martin Langeveld
Thank you to our work day volunteers! We so appreciate the work of Pat LaBelle, Risha Gordon, Bill Dixon and Orlando who joined members of the lower section steering committee–Jason Cooper, Malcolm Moore, Matt Mann, Wendy Harrison and Kathleen White. Thank you all!
Tasks accomplished: A post was set at the Rice Farm Rd trail head, grass and brush was trimmed along the overgrown section of trail under the power lines, drainage ditches were cleared of leaves and debris, a few fallen trees were sawed and removed from trail, and caution signs were placed at washout areas on the Fox Farm Road access trail.
After all the tasks were completed, our work day organizer, Jason Cooper found time for some fun and created this stump jump!
Jason Cooper also discovered evidence of beavers hard at work and Wendy Harrison found an “ice leaf” while working on the trail.
Three intrepid West River Trail volunteers successfully moved a huge boulder about 2 feet to get it out of the trail, using only pry bars, brute strength and ingenuity! Hurray!
Our next workday is Saturday, November 18, 10 AM-2 PM, weather permitting. Click link for more details – West River Trail Workday.
Hope to see you on the trail!
Thanks to Malcolm Moore for the photos.
From the Brattleboro Reformer, Friday, November 10, 2017. http://www.reformer.com/stories/court-rules-in-favor-of-west-river-trail-group,524346
The public has rights, under a “prescriptive easement,” to use a portion of the West River Trail in Dummerston, according to a ruling issued on Wed., Nov. 9 by Judge John W. Valente of the Windham County Superior Court.
The ruling also established that the non-profit group Friends of the West River Trail owns title to a 2-acre disputed parcel of land including the trail itself, located at the Rice Farm Road end of the trail in Dummerston.
At that location, Melvin L. Mayo, the owner of several parcels of land along Rice Farm Road, had erected barriers intended to prevent use of the trail. In a judgment issued as part of his decision, Valente ordered that Mayo is “enjoined from interfering with the public’s use of the railbed [the trail] for recreational purposes.”
Further, he ruled that “members of the public may remove all fencing, debris, barriers, or signs discouraging use of the railbed in a fashion consistent with the terms of the easement.”
A lawsuit had been brought by the Friends organization against Mayo, after efforts to resolve Mayo’s land claims out of court were unsuccessful.
The prescriptive easement, as described by Valente in his ruling, provides that “all members of the public may use the railbed that runs through Mr. Mayo’s southerly parcel for non-motorized recreation. This includes, but is not limited to, running, cycling, walking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.” The easement is based on trial testimony making clear the continuous use of the trail by the public over many decades.
Valente added that “the public may make reasonably necessary repairs to continue this use, such as clearing brush, mowing and repairing flooding or culverts that impede recreational use of the trail.”
The trail is located on the railbed of the former 36-mile West River Railroad, which operated from Brattleboro to Londonderry from 1880 to 1936. After the railroad ceased operations, the iron rails were sold for scrap, and much of the route became a trail, used informally for decades for recreational purposes.
Friends of the West River Trail was founded in 1992 to repair and restore the trail, beginning with the 16-mile upper section from Londonderry to Townshend. In 2012, the group began repairing and improving the 3.5-mile lower section from Brattleboro to Dummerston. It acquired several adjoining parcels, including the land at the Rice Farm Trailhead involved in the dispute, and the 21-acre Riverstone Preserve located in Brattleboro.
Lester Humphreys, chair of the steering committee for the lower section of the trail, said, “This removes any doubts the public may have had about using the full length of the lower section of the trail, from the trailhead near the Marina Restaurant all the way to Rice Farm Road. We have enjoyed good relations with many of the landowners along the trail, and as stewards of the trail, we look forward to working with all of them in the future.”
Humphreys also pointed to the newly-restored trail section below the new I-91 bridge. “All the bridge work is done now, and that section has been beautifully restored by Bazin Brothers, as contractor for PCL, the bridge builders,” he said.
We will meet at the Marina trail head on Saturday Nov 18 at 9:45 and begin our walk in at 10 AM. We will be working on clearing leaves from drainage ditches and culverts, clearing a few trees off the trail, putting up caution signs on the Fox Farm Road trail access road and whatever else we see that needs doing.
Wear your boots, work gloves and warm clothes; bring water and a snack, rakes and shovels. We will have tools as well. Stay for as long as you can. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to RSVP. We look forward to working with you on this beautiful trail! Thank you in advance! (Our sincere apologies to anyone who showed up on October 29. We forgot to announce that we needed to cancel. We’ll not let that happen again!)