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.
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
As 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!
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” – Rachel Carson
For those seeking “social distancing” the way that Henry David Thoreau described it — a silent communion with the woods — Southern Vermont offers many places for a walk, a ramble or a hike.
The West River Trail was featured in a recent Manchester Journal article by Greg Sukiennik, about places to find quiet, natural beauty in Southern Vermont. Read the Full article in the Manchester Journal. Photo courtesy of Kris Radder, Brattleboro Reformer via the Manchester Journal.
The West River Trail: The former railbed of the misbegotten West River Railroad is currently split into two trail sections, with future plans to connect them into a single 36-mile trail. The lower section stretches from The Marina in Brattleboro to the old quarry on Rice Farm Rd in Dummerston. The upper section stretches from the former South Londonderry train depot to Townshend Dam, with several parking lots along the way, and is home to the annual West River Trail Run, scheduled for June.
Enjoy the trail! Be safe, be well, and embrace nature and the outdoors.
The Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) Lower Section Steering Committee has a rewarding volunteer opening for someone who can help organize and file the papers documenting the work of making the West River Trail accessible to all.
Do you have a special interest or skill in organizing files/papers? Do you love nature trails? Would you like to help organize and document the work of a local non-profit? Do you have a little extra time in your schedule to help support the West River Trail?
Or maybe you know of someone else who may be interested? If so, please share this announcement with them. Thank you!
About the FWRT: Organized in 1992, the Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the establishment of a 36-mile scenic trail through the West River Valley – eventually linking Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica and South Londonderry.
The FWRT’s mission is 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. Coordinate local, state and federal interests in planning, funding, construction, management and use of the trail system.
The West River Trail has a beautiful new sign at the Rice Farm Road trailhead.
Gratitude and huge thanks go out to Jason Cooper, Mark Westa, Steve Shriner, Malcolm Moore, and Howard Printing.
* Jason Cooper and Mark Westa put the posts in the ground last fall. * Steve Shriner crafted and painted the signs. * Malcolm Moore and Steve Shriner attached the signs to the posts. * Howard Printing, enlarged and printed the map for half the cost, as a donation-in-kind.
Stop by to check out the new sign and enjoy an early spring walk on the trail!
Please consider supporting the West River Trail on Giving Tuesday and in your end of year giving. With your support, we can continue to maintain and enhance the Trail for our local and visitor community.
People make trails. Take a walk down the West River Trail and you will see a cross section of our community. Couples strolling hand in hand, kids on their first bike ride, runners preparing for their first marathon, and awestruck out-of-state visitors getting a closeup view of the I-91 bridge. The West River Trail continues to flourish and has become a local destination.
The support of the trail has come about in large part because of the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers. The Friends of the West River Trail ensures that the trail is maintained by trimming and repairing the trailbed, contracting for invasives control, and providing signage and maps to spread the word about this important community asset. We work to grow the trail, with possible land acquisitions and extensions of the trail.
With your support, we look to continue this work in several ways over the coming year:
Ongoing improvement of the West River trail. Over the coming year this will include the new sign on Rice Farm Road, benches, picnic tables and interpretive signs in the Riverstone Preserve. We also will continue our efforts at invasives control and drainage improvement.
Partner with other trail networks with the goal of providing continuous trail access throughout Brattleboro. We have worked over the past year on a vision for connected trail networks. We strive to work with other trail organizations to create a trail network to provide not only recreational opportunities, but realistic modes of transportation to help our region lessen its dependence on automobiles, reducing contributions to climate change. A network of safe, functional, connected pathways is key to this vision.
Continuation of the trail from the West River south to the unused rail bridge crossing the Connecticut river just south of downtown. We are now working to understand the various rights of way needed and any legal obstacles to making this a reality.
We would appreciate your support of these efforts though a year end gift. Click on the link to donate online or mail a donation to: West River Trail, Lower Section, 138 Elliot St, Suite 3, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301.
Best wishes from the Trail, with thanks for considering a gift to the West River Trail.
FRIENDS OF THE WEST RIVER TRAIL
Lower Section steering committee: Lester Humphreys (chair) Jason Cooper Wendy Ferris Matt Mann Malcolm Moore Steve Shriner Jesse Wagner Mark Westa Kathleen White Alex Wilson
Fundraising committee: Orly Munzing Brett Morrison Marcia Steckler Tom Yahn