West River Trail Update & Annual Meeting Report

West River Trail Update & Annual Meeting Report

WRT at MarinaThe West River Trail is open. Please be aware that there are intersections between construction access and the trail path, and users should exercise extreme caution at these intersections. As an additional safety precaution, users of the West River Trail are reminded to keep pets on a leash in this area. Trail users should be aware that snow removal operations on I-91 may cause snow to fall on the trail.

The next Trail Talk will be held on February 21. Check the I-91 bridge construction website for details.

Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) in the news. Story published in The Commons issue #292 (Wednesday, February 11, 2015), page B2. Written by Sarah Buckingham.

LONDONDERRY—Work is about to begin to restore the former Newfane depot for use as a railroad museum. The Friends of The West River Trail (FWRT) learned more about this project, and others, when the group held its annual meeting at the former South Londonderry depot last month.

Laura Wallingford-Bacon, president of the Windham County Historical Society in Newfane, said her organization purchased the 1880 building for $42,000 from the children of Fannie and Bill Mantel last fall. It had been in the Mantel family for around 50 years. The railroad went out of business in the 1930s. The purchase price includes historical artifacts in the station. The historical society plans to restore the building and incorporate a collection of artifacts from the West River Railroad that currently resides at the county history museum. South Londonderry and Newfane are the only two of the 10 original depots from the West River Railroad that still sit at their original sites. Other surviving depots that were later relocated can be found in West Dummerston and Williamsville. Wallingford-Bacon said the historical society hopes to raise funds to offset the purchase price and to restore the property and they have received an “encouraging response” to that campaign. The restoration will take place in six phases, with an estimated total cost of around $50,000. The first, and most urgent, phase — addressing drainage and replacing the roof — is expected to cost $16,000.

At the annual meeting, FWRT board members Lester Humphreys and Paul Cameron gave a presentation on the Riverstone Preserve, a 23-acre parcel which the group acquired in 2013. The land sits one mile north of the Marina restaurant in Brattleboro, between the West River Trail and the river itself. The southern section subcommittee purchased the land for $97,000. One-third of the purchase price was raised in donations and the rest came from a grant from the Vermont Housing Conservation Board. The Vermont Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the property.
Cameron gave an overview of the plant communities in the Riverstone Preserve, which include a sugar maple ostrich fern flood plain community; a river shore grassland that is home to several rare plants such as the great lobelia; and a river cobbleshore, where the FWRT are working to control invasive Japanese knotweed, the worst of several invasive plant species in the preserve. Cameron also reported that last spring a volunteer group formed to develop a management plan for the preserve. So far the group has completed a drainage project, built a trail connector with a board walk, removed an old shed, and continues to work removing invasive species. More volunteers are needed for projects happening this summer. FWRT would like to build stone steps, picnic table, a pavilion or shelter of some type, and an information kiosk.

The FWRT board of directors elected Greg Meulemans as board president and treasurer. Humphreys was voted in as vice president of the board and assistant treasurer for the trail’s lower section subcommittee, and Sharon Crossman the assistant treasurer of upper section.

Meulemans reported that FWRT has received a grant for mile markers which will be modeled after railroad markers and be installed along the trail this summer.

 

Birding on the West River with the Vermont Land Trust

Birding on the West River with the Vermont Land Trust

birding on the west riverDATE: Saturday, May 17
TIME: 7:30 –10:00 am
PLACE: Riverstone Preserve, Brattleboro
River corridors provide important habitat for migratory and breeding birds. Grab your binoculars and join VLT’s Kerry Doyle on Saturday May 17 for a morning of birding along the West River Trail in Brattleboro. Co-sponsored with Friends of the West River. RSVP appreciated but not necessary. Meet at the Rice Farm Road trailhead access to the West River Trail. Click HERE to register. Click HERE for a map. If you have questions, contact Sharon at 802-262-1241 or sharon@vlt.org. Hope to see you there!

Birding on the West River

Birding on the West River

birding on the west riverRegistration is open for the Birding on the West River walk sponsored by the Vermont Land Trust.
River corridors provide important habitat for migratory and breeding birds. Grab your binoculars and look for birds along the West River Trail.
DATE: Saturday, May 17
TIME: 7:30 –10:00 AM
PLACE: Riverstone Preserve, West River Trail, Brattleboro, VT
Sponsored by The Vermont Land Trust. Click HERE to register. If you have questions, contact Sharon at 802-262-1241 or sharon@vlt.org.

Birding on the West River

Birding on the West River

birding on the west riverSave the date! Sneak Preview of an event coming up this spring!
Sponsored by The Vermont Land Trust:
Birding on the West River
DATE: Saturday, May 17
TIME: 7:30 –10:00 AM
PLACE: Riverstone Preserve, West River Trail, Brattleboro, VT
River corridors provide important habitat for migratory and breeding birds. Grab your binoculars and look for birds along the West River Trail.
Registration coming soon! We’ll keep you posted! Check the VLT website for more information.

Friends of the West River Trail Acquire and Conserve Key Land Parcel

Friends of the West River Trail Acquire and Conserve Key Land Parcel

wrt 3The following article was originally published in The Commons issue #237 (Wednesday, January 15, 2014). To read the full article click here

BRATTLEBORO—The Friends of the West River Trail and the Vermont Land Trust completed the purchase and conservation of a 23-acre parcel along the West River about a half-mile north of the Interstate 91 bridge. Renamed the Riverstone Preserve, this ecologically diverse site is nestled between the river and the corridor of the historic former West River Railroad.
The West River Trail, now occupying that corridor, is a dominant feature of the property. The trail is used for hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and other non-motorized activities.
The Friends of the West River Trail and the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) worked together to purchase and conserve this parcel. The two organizations received a $65,050 grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) and raised $32,200 in local funds and foundation grants. The Friends own the property and future uses will be in accordance with a conservation easement held by VHCB and VLT. “The Friends are so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Vermont Land Trust to conserve this piece of land,” said Kathleen White. “We are grateful to VHCB for the award and to all the donors that helped make this possible, and are excited about how public access to this land will benefit the community.” The land has an unusually rich complement of natural communities, including a floodplain forest, river shore grasslands, and river cobble shore. There are also several rare and uncommon plants, insects, and mussels, whose habitat is now protected.
“The Friends are a dynamic group of volunteers,” said Joan Weir, southeast regional director with the Vermont Land Trust. “It’s been a pleasure to work on this project and we look forward to seeing the continued active stewardship of this treasured resource”. The Friends sought to protect this property because of its ecological features and the recreational, scenic, and educational benefits the land can provide to the greater Brattleboro community.
Plans include enhancing the trail’s accessibility as a community amenity for recreation and school field trips. A picnic area and side trails that provide access to the river shore are envisioned.

The West River Trail and the Vermont Land Trust in the News

The West River Trail and the Vermont Land Trust in the News

west river trail signFrom the Brattleboro Reformer, May 4, 2013. Click <a title="brattleboro reformer wrt article" href="http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_23170574/west-river-trail-land-purchase-works?nstrack=sid:313768|met:0000300|cat:0|order:10&%2F%3Fsource=dailymeHERE to go to the full article.
The Vermont Land Trust and the Friends of the West River Trail are close to finalizing a deal to purchase 21 acres of land along the West River which would allow the conservation groups to add trails to the popular system and preserve land along the river.
The Vermont Land Trust is working with the local organization to purchase the land, which is on the northeast side of the river, across from the professional buildings on Route 30.
The trail has become a popular destination for bikers, walkers and runners since the Friends of the West River Trail improved the kiosk at the trail head and developed the access point near the Marina Restaurant.
Lester Humphreys, a member of the Friends of the West River Trail board, said the trail has seen an increase in use since the group put down crushed stone along the path last year. “People are hearing about it and they are definitely coming out,” he said. “They love it.”
The West River Trail has been developed over the past 15 years and the group has been slowly acquiring land along the river. Supporters hope to eventually develop the old railroad bed 36 miles, from Brattleboro all the way to South Londonderry.
Members of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps are expected to do work along the trail this summer.
Humphreys said the land deal is still a work in progress and the group is trying to raise the money needed to complete the transaction(follow this page for more information on what they are doing to raise money. If the deal goes through the group hopes to develop new trails and also do culvert and drainage repair and surfacing in the area. The Friends of the West River Trail has a grant request in with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. If the deal goes through the group will own the land and the Vermont Land Trust will hold the conservation easement to ensure that the land remains open to the public.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will be asked to endorse the land deal at its board meeting Tuesday.