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.
Happy Summer! Fun to see the new picnic tables in use along the trail. A local cycling group was out on the West River Trail recently, enjoying the bench and picnic table under the I-91 bridge. Thanks to Carl Lynde for sharing the photos.
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!
The West River Trail is delighted to announce the addition of two new picnic tables along the trail.
One is located on the deck of the I-91 bridge and the other is at the Rice Farm Rd Trailhead, down a little trail towards the river.
Thanks to RiseVT for funding the construction of the picnic tables with a RiseVT Amplify grant. RiseVT’s mission is to support outdoor physical activity and healthy lifestyles for families throughout the state.
The West River Trail relies solely on the generosity and help of volunteers and donations to make improvements and we have a team of folks to thank for making the picnic tables happen. Thanks to Jim Webster (pictured above) for building the tables, to Mark Anderson of Trevett Millworks for donating the white oak lumber, to Jesse Wagner for making the connection for the donation of the lumber, to Jesse and Mark Westa for picking up and delivering the lumber to Jim, and to Jason Cooper (pictured above) for help with delivery and installation.
Check out the beautiful new picnic tables the next time you are out on the trail. Happy Spring!
“There’s a certain peace that I feel walking along this river. Nothing like walking near water, or being near water that soothes the soul, so to speak. It’s consoling during this time of great anxiety and isolation.” – Robert Peeples, Brattleboro resident
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 Windham Regional Commission does routine counts of the use of the West River Trail. Counts from this past April and September show an increase in trail use since COVID-19 for both walkers and bicyclists. Great to see that so many of us are able to utilize the West River Trail during this challenging time.
A big thanks to Jeff Nugent for his work on tracking trail use and for creating and sharing this graph. For more information on the work of the WRC, please visit their website at windhamregional.com. Click on the image above for the full 2 page report.
Keep yourself and others safe on the West River Trail by following posted COVID-19 safety protocols.
Please share this area safely and responsibly. Use the trail only if you feel well and have not been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Practice social distancing – maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and those not in your family. Wear a mask. Save N95 masks for healthcare professionals; use a homemade cloth mask, purchased mask, or bandana. Avoid shared surfaces such as benches, picnic tables, railings. Consider less traveled trails if the trail or parking lot appears crowded.
If you use the trail regularly, and are in a position to support the trail, please consider making a donation to help maintain the trail. The Friends of the West River Trail is a registered 501 (3) (c) organization. Click HERE TO DONATE.
Wet weather is forecast for this Tuesday, September 29, so the RP trail will be open that day. Look for the trails on the Riverstone Preserve to be closed for the day on Thursday, October 1. Thank you! Sorry for the confusion!
The Riverstone Preserve will be closed Tuesday, September 29, due to the final treatment this year (we hope!) on invasives (bittersweet seedlings). The West River Trail will remain open, but there will be signage and caution tape across the smaller trails that go into the Riverstone Preserve. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
Because of the work that has been done the past 3 years by Longview Forest, Inc., we should be able to keep the invasive plants under control in the future, by manually removing them. Next spring, summer and fall, we will be organizing volunteer crews to help with this work. Please be in touch if you might be interested in assisting us and we’ll contact you. Thank you so much!