Trail Workday: Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are needed to help pull invasives on the Riverstone Preserve on Saturday morning, June 25, from 9 am to 11 am.

We’ll mostly be identifying and pulling the seedlings of Oriental Bittersweet. Dan Healey, our forester from Long View Forest, Inc. will not be able to be with us that day, but there will be others who can help identify the Bittersweet and some of the other invasive species that grow on the Riverstone Preserve (21 acres of land adjacent to the West River Trail).

You can walk or bike from the Marina Trailhead to the northern boundary of the Riverstone Preserve (it’s about 1 3/4 to 2 miles from the trailhead) or you can park at the Fox Farm Rd trailhead and walk or bike in from there (shorter walk).

We’ll gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail at 9 am, so give yourself time to get to the meeting place (about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour, depending on how you’re getting there and how fast you go).  

Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant. We’ll be mostly pulling seedlings that are easy to remove. It’s satisfying work to learn to identify and keep the invasive species under control on this special piece of property. We’ll be doing this on the last Saturday morning of every month throughout the summer and fall.  

Mark the last Saturday morning of every month on your calendar for more opportunities to help with this task. Thank you and hope to see you there!

Please email lowersection@westrivertrail.org to let us know you’re coming and/or with any questions. Thank you!

Work Day Details:
West River Trail Work Day, Riverstone Preserve
Saturday June 25, 9 to 11 am (allow about 1/2 hour walk to get to meeting place)
Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant
Gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail

Some Facts about Oriental Bittersweet, courtesy of Vermont Invasives.

Asiatic bittersweet is a deciduous, woody vine that climbs saplings and trees and can grow over 60 feet in length.

The alternate, elliptical to circular leaves are light green in color and 2-5 inches long.

Small, inconspicuous, axillary, greenish-white flowers bloom from May to early June. Oriental bittersweet closely resembles American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). The main difference: Celastrus scandens has flowers and fruits at the terminal ends of branches; Celastrus orbiculatus has flowers scattered along the entire stem.

The small globose fruits are green when young; ripen to yellow; then split to reveal showy, scarlet berries that persist into winter.

Image courtesy of Vermont Invasives.

Trail Work Day: Saturday May 28

Image courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

We will be removing invasive species from The Riverstone Preserve on the last Saturday morning of every month throughout the summer and fall. Please join us to learn about invasive species and help preserve a shared natural resource. All volunteers are welcome! We’ll announce upcoming trail work days here. Stay tuned!

This coming Saturday May 28, we are seeking volunteers for a special work day.

Dan Healey, a forester from Long View Forest, Inc. will be with us, to help us identify the seedlings of Oriental Bittersweet and some of the other invasive species that grow on the Riverstone Preserve (21 acres of land adjacent to the West River Trail).

You can walk or bike in from the Marina Trailhead to the northern boundary of the Riverstone Preserve (about 1 3/4-2 miles from the trailhead) or park at the Fox Farm Rd trailhead and walk or bike in from there (shorter walk). We’ll gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail at 10 am, to start working, so give yourself time to get to the meeting place (about 1/2 hour).  

Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant. We’ll be mostly pulling seedlings that are easy to remove. It’s satisfying work to learn to identify and keep the invasive species under control on this special piece of property. We’ll be doing this on the last Saturday morning of every month throughout the summer and fall.  

Please email lowersection@westrivertrail.org to let us know you’re coming and/or with any questions. Thank you!

Work Day Details:
West River Trail Work Day, Riverstone Preserve
Saturday May 28 10 am – 12 pm (allow about 1/2 hour walk to get to meeting place)
Bring work/gardening gloves, water, a snack, insect repellant
Gather where the Fox Farm access road meets the West River Trail

West River Trail Tree Report

Happy Spring from the West River Trail! It’s so exciting to see the first wildflowers emerge. Read more below about the fate of some of the trees we planted last year as part of the 350 VT Rewilding project

Tree report and tree and wildflower photos courtesy of Jesse Wagner.

It’s amazing how much the Riverstone Preserve got scoured by the winter ice! The Hepatica, Dutchmen’s Breeches, Trout Lilies are in bloom and the Bloodroot and Trillium are starting to open.  

I was unable to locate the southernmost tree (Hackberry) that we planted last year with all of the new driftwood berms, but we found the tube that had previously protected it about 100’ away. This was another Hackberry tree along the river that was also directly affected by the scouring  movement of the giant ice chunks. I was just barely able to see this tube buried under brush completely flat and bend it back to shape. The tree is still alive!  Not sure how alive yet though. The hazelnuts by the new bridge are doing great but the ones out in the middle of the wetland have been deer browsed heavily. If they bud after all, I will put larger tubes on them to protect them from future browsing. I haven’t recently checked on the trees by the log near the picnic table in Riverstone Preserve trail, the two living trees at Rice Farm Rd kiosk or the two shagbark trees at the northwest corner of Riverstone Preserve trail, but I hope they are doing well.  

A History Told by Nature

A new trail offers hikers a guided tour of the ecology of the West River, told through the eyes of the Abenaki people.

Thank you to The Commons for sharing this beautiful article. Text courtesy of Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons. Photo courtesy of the Atowi Project.

Originally published in The Commons issue #635 (Wednesday, October 20, 2021). This story appeared on page A1. Here is the link to the article.

Another piece of Abenaki history has been reclaimed with the creation of the Sibosen Trail. Pronounced SEE-boo-sehn, which is Abenaki for “river stone,” the trail runs along the West River in what’s known as the Riverstone Preserve, 21 acres of land owned by the Friends of the West River Trail that also includes 2,240 feet of shoreline.

The new trail takes a short loop off the main West River Trail and skirts the river’s edge.

With the installation of 21 informational signs, many of which include Abenaki language translations, the trail is now complete. That milestone was celebrated on Oct. 17 with a walk.

Dummerston forester Lynn Levine did the research for this project and composed the sign posts. Rich Holschuh, cultural researcher, provided information on the Sokoki, the band of Abenaki from the middle and upper Connecticut River Valley. Dummerston geologist John Warren also provided information.

Brattleboro Town Planner Sue Fillion said that the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board helped the Friends purchase the Riverstone Preserve parcel, and the Brattleboro Conservation Commission received a Tiny Grant from the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions to create an interpretive trail.

Kathleen White, a member of the Friends of the West River Trail, said the inspiration for the Sibosen Trail came during a walk with Levine not long after the Friends secured the Riverstone parcel in 2013.

White said they were walking down a footpath that led to the river and the idea came to her and Levine that “this would make a great trail.”

Levine said the West River was “so important to the Abenaki,” and that tribal representatives “were excited to be a part of this.”

According to Holschuh’s research, the West River is known as Wantastekw (“at the river where something is lost”) by the Sokoki Abenaki, whose people have been living along its shores for more than 12,000 years.

The river was a main travel route between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain (Bitawbakw) that was traversed by canoe and on foot.

On many of the signs posted along the trail, a QR code can work with cameras on hikers’ smart phones to access the voice of Holschuh, who pronounces the Abenaki translations on the signs.

The signs highlight the trees and vegetation found along the West River, and how the Abenaki made use of them. They also explain the geological history of the West River Valley.

Some of the signs include poems by Levine about the various trees. One tree on the trail is completely encircled by an Oriental Bittersweet vine, an invasive species common to Vermont’s woodlands.

Levine writes: “The bittersweet vine/Spirals around a tree/After a while you don’t know/Which is which/They look like lovers/But the vine makes the fire/That smothers the tree.”

White said the Friends have had frequent work parties along the trail to clear the invasive plants to give the native species room to grow — or, as she called it, “weeding the woods.”

American beech, white pine, red oak, black cherry, black locust, bigtooth aspen, bitternut hickory, white and black birches, musclewood, and striped maple are among the trees highlighted on the trail.

Levine, who has had a hand in constructing several hiking trails in the Brattleboro area, said her goal has always been “to connect people with the forest.” She says she is quite proud of how this trail turned out and of the many people involved to make it happen.

“This is a wonderful new community resource,” she said.

Trail News: Trail Reroute opens!

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!

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!

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!

1-Day Closure on the Riverstone Preserve June 16

West River Trail dames rocket and ferns West River Trail dames rocket and fernsAs you may know, FWRT has been contracting with Longview Forest to treat woody invasives on the Riverstone Preserve adjacent to the West River Trail (between the trail and the river). Access to the Riverstone Preserve will be off limits on Tuesday, June 16, because a follow up treatment will be occurring (weather permitting). Off limits will be the section of the WRT that goes through the Riverstone Preserve, as well as the smaller trail that loops around the preserve. Signs will be hanging at the trailheads to inform the public. The Riverstone Preserve will re-open on Wednesday, June 17. We apologize for the inconvenience!

West River Trail Spring Workday

Pictured are Malcolm Moore and Jim Webster, clearing a fallen tree on the Riverstone Preserve trail.  Photo by Alex Wilson.

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! 

Happy spring, and enjoy the trail!