Court Rules in Favor of West River Trail

West River Trail, Rice Farm Road AccessFrom the Brattleboro Reformer, Friday, November 10, 2017. http://www.reformer.com/stories/court-rules-in-favor-of-west-river-trail-group,524346

The public has rights, under a “prescriptive easement,” to use a portion of the West River Trail in Dummerston, according to a ruling issued on Wed., Nov. 9 by Judge John W. Valente of the Windham County Superior Court.

The ruling also established that the non-profit group Friends of the West River Trail owns title to a 2-acre disputed parcel of land including the trail itself, located at the Rice Farm Road end of the trail in Dummerston.

At that location, Melvin L. Mayo, the owner of several parcels of land along Rice Farm Road, had erected barriers intended to prevent use of the trail. In a judgment issued as part of his decision, Valente ordered that Mayo is “enjoined from interfering with the public’s use of the railbed [the trail] for recreational purposes.”

Further, he ruled that “members of the public may remove all fencing, debris, barriers, or signs discouraging use of the railbed in a fashion consistent with the terms of the easement.”

A lawsuit had been brought by the Friends organization against Mayo, after efforts to resolve Mayo’s land claims out of court were unsuccessful.

The prescriptive easement, as described by Valente in his ruling, provides that “all members of the public may use the railbed that runs through Mr. Mayo’s southerly parcel for non-motorized recreation. This includes, but is not limited to, running, cycling, walking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.” The easement is based on trial testimony making clear the continuous use of the trail by the public over many decades.

Valente added that “the public may make reasonably necessary repairs to continue this use, such as clearing brush, mowing and repairing flooding or culverts that impede recreational use of the trail.”

The trail is located on the railbed of the former 36-mile West River Railroad, which operated from Brattleboro to Londonderry from 1880 to 1936. After the railroad ceased operations, the iron rails were sold for scrap, and much of the route became a trail, used informally for decades for recreational purposes.

Friends of the West River Trail was founded in 1992 to repair and restore the trail, beginning with the 16-mile upper section from Londonderry to Townshend. In 2012, the group began repairing and improving the 3.5-mile lower section from Brattleboro to Dummerston. It acquired several adjoining parcels, including the land at the Rice Farm Trailhead involved in the dispute, and the 21-acre Riverstone Preserve located in Brattleboro.

Lester Humphreys, chair of the steering committee for the lower section of the trail, said, “This removes any doubts the public may have had about using the full length of the lower section of the trail, from the trailhead near the Marina Restaurant all the way to Rice Farm Road. We have enjoyed good relations with many of the landowners along the trail, and as stewards of the trail, we look forward to working with all of them in the future.”

Humphreys also pointed to the newly-restored trail section below the new I-91 bridge. “All the bridge work is done now, and that section has been beautifully restored by Bazin Brothers, as contractor for PCL, the bridge builders,” he said.

West River Trail Work Day Saturday, November 18, 10 AM-2 PM (weather permitting)

West River Trail, VermontWe will meet at the Marina trail head on Saturday Nov 18 at 9:45 and begin our walk in at 10 AM.  We will be working on clearing leaves from drainage ditches and culverts, clearing a few trees off the trail, putting up caution signs on the Fox Farm Road trail access road and whatever else we see that needs doing.

Wear your boots, work gloves and warm clothes; bring water and a snack, rakes and shovels.  We will have tools as well.  Stay for as long as you can.  Contact lowersection@gmail.com with questions or to RSVP.  We look forward to working with you on this beautiful trail!  Thank you in advance!  (Our sincere apologies to anyone who showed up on October 29.  We forgot to announce that we needed to cancel.  We’ll not let that happen again!)

August 5th Trail Talk Cancelled

West River Trail I-91 BridgeThe AUGUST 5, 2017 TRAIL TALK HAS BEEN CANCELLED. Thank you for your continued understanding. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause. For More Information please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at bclark@pcl.com.

Trail Closed on Mon 7/31 & Tue 8/1

west river trail april 2017 - 3Bridge demolition above the West River Trail trail will continue the week of July 31st and will be blocked at times by construction equipment. The trail will be closed on Monday (7/31) and Tuesday (8/1) while they take down the old bridge near the trail. We encourage pedestrians to not use this section of trail on Monday and Tuesday due the work in this area, but personnel will be stationed nearby to provide warning when work is occurring overhead.

Users of the West River Trail should exercise extreme caution at intersections between construction access and the trail path. As an additional safety precaution, users of the West River Trail are reminded to keep pets on a leash in this area.

The next trail talk will be held August 5, 2017. 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.

If you would like additional information, please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at bclark@pcl.com.

The West River Trail & Trail Talk

West River Trail, mountain laurelHappy summer! The West River Trail is open during bridge construction! Please take care at the Brattleboro Marina Trailhead construction intersections. During upcoming bridge demolition, construction personnel will be stationed to provide warning to pedestrians when work is occurring overhead.

Trail users should exercise extreme caution at intersections between construction access and the trail path. As an additional safety precaution, please keep pets on a leash, especially in the construction zone.

The next trail talk will be held August 5, 2017. 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, please contact Bonnie Clark, Public Relations Officer, at bclark@pcl.com.

BrattlePaddle Canoe & Kayak Races

BrattlePaddleSave the date for the BrattlePaddle Canoe & Kayak Races! Proceeds will benefit the West River Trail. Please join us!
A great family outing, with fun races for all skill levels!
Sunday July 23, 2017
Registration: 8 – 9:30 am, Race starts: 10 am
Entry fee: $20.00
Racing distance: 9 miles
Recreational distance: 3.5 miles
Separate starts for different classes
Awards will be presented following the races
A light lunch will be provided under the party tent for all registered participants by the Marina
The Marina
For more information please contact:
Sandy Harris, 603-363-4868; racemonkey14@myfairpoint.net

Directions from North or South
I-91 to exit 3, South on Route 5 to The Marina On the Water (located right before the bridge where the West and Connecticut rivers meet.

Proceeds to benefit the West River Trail.

West River Trail Workday Report

 

WRT trail workday June 2017Huge thanks to the 5 volunteers who showed up to help repair the West River Trail.
Below is Jason Cooper’s report from the Trail Work Day.

We got an incredible amount done today!
Repaired erosion on the steeps of the I-91 bridge bypass.
Trimmed back brush and grass on the bypass.
Cleaned out and repaired many culverts from I-91 (mile 2) to just before mile 3.8.
Removed many downed trees.
Filled many holes in the trail.

The biggest surprise was the incredible washout on the Fox Farm Road access. It is as bad as it was after Hurricane Irene. This will take some structural redesign. There is also still some work to do between mile 3.8 and the foot bridge at mile 4.1, and a ditch at mile 2.8. Beyond the foot bridge there are several erosion cuts in the trail bed that will need fill trucked in.
WRT trail workday June 2017 - 2
Photos are on the Fox Farm Road trail access. Photos by Jason Cooper. The trail really needs your help! If you use the trail regularly, please consider lending a hand on the next workday or making a contribution to help maintain the trail. Email us at lowersection@gmail.com with any questions.

 

Rice Farm Road Trailhead

West River Trail Rice Farm Road AccessAs many trail users are aware, branches and stick barriers have been placed at the Rice Farm Road (RFR) trail head for some time now.  More recently, the words “No Trespassing” and “Private -Keep Out” were painted on the ground.  The area being contested is the RFR trail head, including a couple hundred feet south on the trail.  Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) has deeds and surveys showing FWRT ownership of the trail for public use.  Furthermore, the public has been using this trail for decades and because of that​, has the continuing right to use the trail (this right is called a prescriptive easement).

​Recently FWRT brought an action in court to stop this obstruction. However, it will take several weeks to 3 months or more for the court to address the situation.  In the past, trail users who have come in contact with the contesting party have been treated politely by him and even encouraged to use the trail.  Unfortunately, our efforts as members of the FWRT to resolve or even discuss the situation have been met with hostility.  Given the situation, it is up to each trail user to decide whether to use the RFR access to the trail. If you are feeling concerned about using the RFR trail head, you can access the trail from Fox Farm Rd or the Marina trail head.   We regret the uncertainty and any inconvenience this is causing.

Sunday June 25 Trail Work Day 1-5 PM

WRT trail wildflowerIf you like and use the trail, we need your help!

Please come help repair the damage from last Monday’s storm.  If you have a shovel or iron rake, please bring it along.  Meet at the Fox Farm Rd Trail Access and stay as long as you like.  Hope to see you there!

West River Trail Damaged in Storm

West River Trail, rainstorm damage to culvertHeavy rains last Monday exposed a culvert, and caused other damage to the lower section of the West River Trail. Please come to our trail work day this Sunday, June 25, from 1-5 PM to help maintain our community trail. Meet up at the Fox Farm Rd trail access. Wear your boots and work gloves, bring bug spray and water. We’ll have tools! The trail really needs your help! Thank you! Email us at lowersection@gmail.com for info or questions.