June on the West River Trail brings a gorgeous display of mountain laurel!
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.
The Friends of the West River Trail Inc. (FWRT) recently secured 13.7 acres of woodland in South Londonderry, Vermont, achieving strategic goals related to enhancing and expanding the existing West River Trail (WRT) – an off-road path that is popular year-round with locals and visitors of all ages and abilities.
Overall, this opportunity brings the FWRT that much closer to realizing its founding vision of completing a 36-mile scenic, multi-modal trail linking the West River Valley towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica, and South Londonderry , once connected by the West River Railroad which ran from 1880 to the1930s.
For the past 25 years, FWRT has been working in partnership with state and federal organizations including Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation, US Army Corps of Engineers, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy, as well as private landowners, to reclaim and reconnect remnants of the original railroad bed and adjacent lands for year-round recreational use and multiple resource values.
By acquiring this particular privately owned parcel, public access to what is known as the ‘Upper Section’ of the WRT (South Londonderry to Townshend Lake ) can be improved for an even better user-experience, says Greg Meulemans, current FWRT Board President.
“We are thrilled to finally secure this piece of property for all to use in the future. With ambitious fundraising to complete the transaction, clean up the remains of an old junkyard and redevelop this parcel, FWRT can move forward to preserve the very popular northern access point to the 16-mile section of the trail. Our plan is to enhance the access to the trail and the surrounding area by creating designated parking, building an informational kiosk and developing an expanded trail network.”
The FWRT concept of “an expanded trail network” is further supported by a concurrent neighboring land transaction by which The Nature Conservancy (TNC) acquired and permanently protected 102 acres adjacent to the Winhall Brook Natural Area, already owned by the Conservancy. The collective conservation of these parcels will help safeguard the West River itself and the freshwater species that rely on it for habitat, such as American shad, American eel, brook trout, and state-threatened freshwater mussels.
“This project is a great example of protecting a stage for biodiversity while also increasing public access to a community trail that helps connect people with nature. It’s a win-win to work with great local conservation partners like Friends of the West River,” said Jon Binhammer, Director of Land Protection for The Nature Conservancy.
To donate online to the West River Trail Upper Section (credit card or PayPal), please click on the WRT DONATE page. Or, mail your gift to West River Trail (Upper Section), P.O. Box 2086, S. Londonderry, Vermont 05155
Greg Meulemans, The Friends of the West River Trail, 802-366-0689
Eve Frankel, The Nature Conservancy, 802.595.5000
Friends of the West River Trail
Organized in 1992, the Friends of the West River Trail Inc. (FWRT) is a 501c3 non-profit organization working 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; and coordinate local, state and federal interests in planning, funding, construction, management and use of the trail system. Please visit: www.westrivertrail.org for trail maps, volunteer opportunities and current information.
The Nature Conservancy in Vermont is a leader in safeguarding the natural resources of the Green Mountain State. We have helped conserve over 300,000 acres of land, 1,200 miles of shoreline, and we manage and maintain 55 natural areas that are open for hiking, fishing, snowshoeing and hunting. The Vermont chapter is proud to be connecting land, water, and wildlife for over 50 years. To learn more and support our important work, please visit: www.nature.org/vermont.
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
We’ve published a brand-new map of the Lower Section of the West River Trail, with lots of trail information on the back. It folds down to pocket size for convenient use on the trail. Pick up your copy at the Marina Restaurant, Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce, River Garden, Brattleboro Bike Shop, Burrows Specialized Sports, West Hill Shop, Guilford Country Store, Route 91 Welcome Center, local hotels, and other locations. Many thanks to C&S Wholesale Grocers Print Shop for donating the printing of the map and to Jeff Nugent, Senior Planner, Mapping & GIS, Windham Regional Commission, for creating the map.
View and download the map on the WRT Lower Section Map Page.
The West River Trail is open and looking gorgeous in its autumn finery!
When passing through the bridge construction area, follow signs and take extra care at intersections between trail and construction work. As an additional safety precaution, please keep pets on a leash.
The next trail talk will be held November 5th. Interested participants should meet the PCL+FIGG Team at the West River Trail trailhead at 8 am and the talk will begin at 8:15 am. For more Information about the bridge project, please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mountain-laurel rear the Rice Farm Trailhead is in bloom! Click on the link to read the Wikipedia entry about mountain-laurel. If you have not been on the West River Trail lately, now is the time! Enjoy!