The 10th Annual Mad Dash Opening the Landscape to Everyone

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The 10th Annual Mad Dash Opening the Landscape to Everyone Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                                                     A S S O C I AT I O N

     Spring 2005 Newsletter                                             Supporting Community, Ecology and Health through Public Pathways.

                                                                                                                       Waitsfield, Vermont

                                                                      Opening the Landscape
                                                                      to Everyone
                                                                      How a “Handshake Agreement” Created &
                                                                      Preserved Public Access
                                                                      by Evan Goldsmith from the Vermont Forum on Sprawl

                                                                          Think of your favorite walk along the edge of an upland
                                                                      pasture, or the trail that brings you through gleaming snow and
                                                                      sugar maples in February. For most of us, it’s outdoor experiences
                                                                      like these that have inspired and strengthened our commitment
                                                                      to healthy landscapes. Our worst fear — too often made reality,
                                                                      these days in Vermont — may be the appearance of a new set of
                                                                      “No Trespassing” signs. Especially as more and more larger
                                                                      properties are being subdivided, our concern grows about the
                                                                      fate of traditional land uses.
                                                                          In the midst of all this change, many organizations have
                                                                      made important progress in obtaining permanent easements that
                                                                      keep privately held lands available for public use. While these
                                                                      easements are the ideal means for long-term open space protection,
                                                                      the process and the prospect of finalizing such a permanent,
                                                                      legally binding contract can make landowners wary, and prevents
                                                                      some from participating at all.
                                                                          Here is the story of one community and one farmer that
                                                                      together found a way to allow public access on private land. They
                                                                      did it by moving step by step through informal agreements, toward
                                                                      the eventual formal one that exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The 10th Annual Mad Dash                                              One Farmer and a Riverside Path

September 18, 2005
                                                                           In Waitsfield, along the scenic Mad River Valley, Elwin Neill,
                                                                      Jr. farms the land that his father farmed before him. In 1993, Neill
                                                                      heard from representatives of the Mad River         continued on p.3
by Barclay Rappaport

    Time to start training….The Mad Dash celebrates its 10th
anniversary this year! The course will follow the Mad River                             Annual Meeting
Greenway and North Road, encompassing either an 8-mile or 4-                                June 24th, 2005
mile distance. Runners and walkers participate in this communi-
                                                                                                5:00 pm
ty fitness event, with a special ‘event within the event’ — the
‘Clash at the Dash,’ designed specifically for high school teams.
                                                                                     The West Side Greenway Kiosk
    The race committee is already busy lining up sponsorships to                       All path users are invited!
make this the best Dash ever. We’re counting on support from             Please join us for a delightful cookout of grilled food
local businesses as well as manufacturers from the outdoor               and munchies (please byob) along the Mad River.
industry. If you’re interested in sponsoring this event (or ‘adopt-      We will discuss recent MRPA issues and the election
ing a mile’), please contact Barclay Rappeport (email, below) to         of four directors to the Board. The Nominating
get info on the different levels of sponsorship that are available.      Committee proposes that Alfred C. Gilbert, Richard
    In order to make this event the best possible, we need lots of       C. Hiscock, William Heinzerling and Carl Lobel be
bodies! If you are interested in running/walking in the event,           elected to serve three-year terms ending in 2008 and
please visit our website and click on the sign-up link. If you are       that the Board elect the following officer at its next
not interested in competing, but would like to volunteer, we’d           meeting: Treasurer, Raymond Schenk.
love to have you! We’ll have plenty of jobs to do, before, during
and after the race. Please email race director, Barclay Rappeport,       Park at either Hartshorn’s farm stand on Rt. 100 or at, for more information or to volunteer to            the Meadow Road lot to access the trail to the kiosk.
help out at the race.
From The President                                                                                                             Spring 2005
by Richard Hiscock
                                                                            The Mad River Path Association is a member-supported,
      It has been an action-packed first year for your new president.       non-profit, educational organization whose mission is to
Believe me when I say that I was reluctant to take on this                  create and maintain recreation trails and pedestrian
responsibility given my short time in the Valley. Were it not for           pathways in Vermont’s Mad River Valley.
the energy and enthusiasm of the Board – I can’t say enough
about them – I wouldn’t have agreed to do the job.                                          MRPA Officers and Directors
      Much has happened in the past year: We opened a new                              Richard Hiscock, Waitsfield, President
section of the Kingsbury Bridge Greenway, installed dog waste                        Danielle Hampton, Fayston, Vice President
disposal systems at Meadow Road and Tremblay Road trailheads,                           Raymond Schenk, Fayston, Treasurer
hosted a very successful ninth running of the Mad Dash, continued                     Barclay Rappeport, Waitsfield, Secretary
the routine maintenance of the Greenway and Mill Brook trails,                       Harrison Snapp, Waitsfield, Past Chairman
and along with the newly formed Valley Trails Committee                                           Carl Lobel, Warren
improved and maintained numerous other trails that are enjoyed                               Matt Strassberg, Moretown
by a variety of users.                                                                       William Heinzerling, Fayston
      The other major accomplishment – and one that I personally                             Alfred C. Gilbert III, Fayston
took great pleasure in – was the publication (in partnership with                                  Tim Jones, Warren
Map Adventures) of the Mad River Valley Map and Guide. What                                     Tara Hamilton, Warren
started out as a project to reprint and replace the previous
seasonally focused maps turned into a much more comprehensive                                  Mad River Path Association
effort. The area covered by the map was expanded to include                                            PO Box 683
Camels’ Hump and the Long Trail, and other important                                           Waitsfield, Vermont 05673
information was added to make the new map a resource guide                                           (802) 496-PATH
as well as a comprehensive trails map.                                                 
      Funding an organization like the Mad River Path Association           Pathways is published for the benefit of MRPA members.
is a constant challenge. This year was no exception. While we               It is mailed periodically to all MRPA members and others
grew our membership, and had a successful Mad Dash, our                     whose interests are in support of our mission. We encourage
effort to obtain increased funding from the towns through the               interested parties to submit articles, photos and illustra-
Mad River Valley Recreation District (MRVRD) was unsuccessful.              tions for publication. Designed by Audrey Huffman.
Because of projected funding shortfalls we were forced to accept
the resignation of long-time Executive Director, Kevin Russell.             The MRPA board meets at 6:00 pm on the last Wednesday
      We did, however, receive a substantial grant from the                 of the month at the General Wait House, Route 100,
MRVRD for two specific projects that we believe will enhance the            Waitsfield. All are welcome.
path/trail systems in the Valley both short and long term. The
most pressing project is to replace several bridges on the Mill                       
Brook Trail. The second – longer term project – involves relocating                    
a section of the Village Path from the Eclipse Theater to the
Waitsfield Post Office.
      In September, we will host the tenth running of the Mad                         New MRPA Phone Number
Dash. (Please see separate article on page 1).                                             802-496-PATH
      We recently received notification from the Vermont
Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation that our proposal

                                                                                            Thank You!!!
for comprehensive Mill Brook Trail Improvements – including
additional bridge work, signage and blazing – has been
approved. We also plan improvements on the Kingsbury Bridge
Greenway, including the construction of a kiosk/shelter at the                  To all the members, contributors and especially the landowners
snow-making pond – accomplished with the cooperation of                     without whom there would be no trails and paths — the Mad River
Sugarbush and the generous assistance of the Yestermorrow                   Path Association (MRPA) says a big, thank you! Without your
Design and Build School.                                                    support and the support of the towns through the Mad River Valley
      Earlier this spring through a gracious donation by one of our         Recreation District, continued development of paths and trails
bo a rd members we relocated the MRPA office to Mad River Green             would not be possible.
— upstairs over Three Mountain Café in suite No. 10. And while                  If you haven’t already renewed your membership please do
we are unable to staff the office regularly at this time, we are            so now, if you have please urge your neighbors and friends to
beginning to organize the office and are searching for a new                join MRPA. Memberships are valid through April 2006.
Administrator/Executive Director.                                               We encourage additional tax-deductible donations, and welcome
      I look forward to continuing the work of establishing a               your volunteer support for the many activities and events that need
permanently protected network of recreation paths connecting                your support.
the towns, villages, and cultural centers of the Valley. Please do
not hesitate to contact me or other members of the MRPA Board               n   Membership year May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2006.
with your comments, ideas and suggestions. The success of our               n   Dues: Individual: $15; Family: $40; Sponsor: $50, Business: $100
effort is directly proportional to the support of the community,            n   Additional donations are appreciated and tax-deductible.
particularly the generous support of the landowners over whose              n   Please make checks payable to MRPA.
land we cheerfully trek.
                                                                            MRPA is a §501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. (ID#22-3159859)
Opening the Landscape continued                                            Assisted by the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), he purchased a swath
Path Association about the proposed development of the Mad                 of property on the other side of the river. The VLT helped both
River Greenway — a recreation path that would run alongside                Neill and the Path Association by paying Neill for the new prop-
the river from Warren to Moretown.                                         erty’s development rights, for an access easement, and for ecolog-
    For the path to reach that far without interruption, Neill saw         ical buffer zone along the riverbank. Again the path was expand-
it would have to cross his farmland. He believed in the project,           ed, and Neill had added to his holdings of productive farmland.
but worried that he just couldn’t support it. If a public path ran             Neill also expanded a partnership that had been developed
through his land, wouldn’t people drive over the crops and toss            during the original pathway’s creation. The Vermont Association
trash in his fields? If someone were hurt on his land, wouldn’t he         of Snow Travelers, Inc. (VAST) already had a path on Neill’s
be sued? What if people disturbed his livestock or started camp-           property, and supported his new agreement with the town.
ing on his property?                                                       Although some proponents of the Greenway were less than
    Neill wasn’t ready to sign papers committing his land to a             enthusiastic about sharing the riverside path with snowmobiles,
permanent easement that would guarantee public access — but                the town and community felt comfortable heeding the expertise
he was open to other ideas. Discussions with the town and the              of a group like VAST, which held owner permission for use of
Mad River Path Association led to a new option. The town would             over 4,000 miles of trails.
maintain riverside roadways that Neill had built for his farm                  VAST and its local chapter, the Mad River Ridge Runners,
machinery, and in return he would grant the use of his land,               donated much of the physical labor needed to build pathways
including these roadways, for the path.                                    and bridges along the route. After the floods of 1998, snowmobil-
    The deal was sealed by handshake agreement in late 1993.               ers helped to rebuild the trails — and VAST volunteers have
The town Select Board hesitated to found its path on this infor-           offered to work even on paths areas that are not open to snow-
mal bargain; but the board members knew Neill personally, and              mobiles in winter. A new partnership between the town, VAST,
had encouragement from the Path Association and other commu-               and the Mad River Path Association had been born.
nity partners. Neill soon signed a license agreement for public                In sum, Elwin Neill helped himself, and his farm, by helping
use of the path on his farm, including a 50-foot ecological buffer         his community. And by working with a local farmer on his terms,
between the Mad River and his cultivated land, with the town’s             Waitsfield gained a valuable asset for both local quality of life
liability insurance covering the portion of his land that would be         and the town’s economy. Beyond that, this story illustrates the
open for public use. To resolve his remaining reservations about a         possibilities that can open up when conservation-minded lawyers
permanent legal contract, Neill and the town both retained the             work with farmers, snowmobilers work with environmental
right to cancel this agreement with 60 days notice at any time.            advocates, and people of different communities work together to
                                                                           achieve a goal that offers long-term benefits for all.
“It’s Safer & Cleaner than Ever”
    Within a year, the town had packed down Neill’s riverside              This article first appeared in the Vermont Forum on Sprawl’s publica -
roadway enough for people to push strollers on it and pedal                tion Communities and the Land Strengthening the State We Love.
bikes alongside the water. Neill now had a maintained, mowed               For more information on the publication or VFOS, go to
path to drive his equipment on, and was spending nothing on its   or email
upkeep. The town also allocated $500 for the path’s winter trans-
formation into a cross-country ski trail.
    Almost immediately, Neill found that every time he came into
town to get his mail or deliver his corn for sale at local stores,
townspeople were approaching him to express their gratitude.               Japanese Knotweed is
                                                                           Taking Over!
And in spite of his concerns, Neill found that neither trash nor
crime were coming onto his land.
    “People are self-policing — and there are lots of eyes out
there, now that more people are using it,” he said. “People are            by Harrison Snapp
taking pride in it, and it’s safer and cleaner than it’s ever been.”
    Neill learned from the neighbors that people had tried to park              The Mad River shoreline is beginning to be overrun by an
and even camp on his fields at times, but other users of the path          insidious, exotic interloper. I think it will take a long-term crusade
had asked them to leave. Neill was watching his community sur-             by many to reverse this plant’s momentum. The MRPA, with
pass his expectations.                                                     c o nsent of landowners, would like to organize an assault to
     In summer 1998, the access agreement benefited Neill’s farm           address this issue. Any strategies (guerrilla warfare, blitzkrieg)
in an unexpected way. That season, the swollen Mad River swept             on this enemy of indigenous species are appreciated. There will
repeatedly over portions of his fields, causing costly flood dam-          obviously be specific “do’s and don’ts” and maybe there are
age. Because the edge of his land was now licensed to the town,            imaginative “Vermont” ideas for testing.
Waitsfield was able to access federal emergency-relief funds to fix             How is it spread?
both the path and the damage to Neill’s fields.                                 Japanese knotweed can produce seeds, but it is extremely rare for
                                                                           these seeds to germinate. The most common method of dispersal is
Shared Work and a New Partnership                                          by means of stem, crown and rhizome (underground stem) sections.
    Neill has now been involved with the Mad River Greenway                     New plants will grow from the nodes of pieces of green stem,
for nine years. He has appreciated the free upkeep of his farm             in soil or water. Mechanical cutters, such as flails, will spread
road, community-enforced security for his land, and the funding            knotweed in this fashion. If stems are dried until they are dark
for repair of his flooded fields. He has also enjoyed seeing his           brown, they will not regrow unless the crown (base of the stem)
land’s use contribute to his neighbors’ health and pleasure, and           is still attached.
to his community’s tourist- and recreation-based economy.                       The crown is able to survive drying and composting, and will
    In fact, Neill felt strongly enough about what his agreement           rapidly produce new canes. If you wish to dispose of knotweed
with the town had accomplished that he began working with the              canes by drying or composting, it is important that the stems are
Mad River Path Association as it expanded the greenway.                    cut above the crown, rather than pulling the             continued on p.4

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Waitsfield, Vermont 05673                                                                                                             WAITSFIELD, VT
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                                                                                   to support chain-link fencing to make passage of hikers safer. The
                                                                                   original railing was only 30 inches above the deck in the middle
                                                                                   of the span, so was dangerous for a fully laden hiker to traverse
                                                                                   the bridge safely. Now, it is 45 inches at mid-span. I researched
                                                                                   cable lubrication and found that the ski areas use heated caster
                                                                                   oil (200º F) on lift cables, so I periodically heat caster oil and swab
                                                                                   it on the cables to keep them from rusting in the humid climate of
                                                                                   a river crossing.
                                                                                        I have also been involved in building bridges for the Mad
                                                                                   River Path Association along the Mill Brook Trail in Fayston.
                                                                                   Chase Brook bridge is another bridge recently rebuilt in 1996.
                                                                                   This past winter the center stringer failed and collapsed into the
                                                                                   brook. On a recent Saturday in May, a party of seven volunteers
                                                                                   worked to repair the damaged bridge. We pryed up the deck
                                                                                   boards, felled a new hemlock tree equal to the size of the existing
                                                                                   downstream stringer, and debarked the tree. With the help of the
The author and Monk Bancroft dismantling the Chase Brook Bridge this spring.       Fayston road commissioner and the town's backhoe, the new tree
                                                                                   was winched and set in to replace the upstream stringer. After
I Hate Bridges                                                                     coating the deck boards and the older downstream stringer with
                                                                                   a solution of boiled linseed oil and turpentine (50%/50%), we re-
by Fred Gilbert                                                                    nailed the deck boards to the stringers and leveled out the deck.
                                                                                   We replaced the rail posts and threaded a new rope for the rail-
    For many years I have been building and maintaining bridges                    ing. Job completed in eight hours. The backhoe surely saved us
throughout the state of Vermont. Mostly bridges for hiking.                        many hours of potentially having to hand winch the new bridge
Sometimes there is no way around the use of a bridge, if the                       stringer into place.
obstacle encountered is too large or dangerous to cross without one.                    In the near future the MRPA hopes to rebuild the Tucker
I always try to find a better way to get around the obstacle that                  Brook bridge, although we will have to use hand winches as it is
does not require a bridge, because bridges have to be maintained.                  difficult terrain to get any help from heavy equipment. The
    It does not matter what the bridge is constructed of, it will                  design will be similar with hemlock stringers (they hold up
need maintenance. We constantly see the state highway depart-                      longer in wet environments), a hemlock planked deck and railing
ment out replacing bridge decks, or railings that deteriorate from                 with rope hand rails. Certainly, more volunteers will be needed
vehicular abuse or abuse from the elements that are usually                        to construct this bridge because of its location.
weather related — i.e. floods, or salt to melt ice. The same things                     As the reader can see, no matter what, bridges need constant
happen to bridges on hiking trails throughout the state.                           maintenance and therefore detract from the time that could be more
    My first bridge work was helping to install the walking deck                   enjoyable just traversing the trail(s). That is why I hate bridges.
on the Clarendon Gorge Bridge that spans Mill River in Clarendon.
The gorge is quite spectacular and the Appalachian/Long Trail has
to cross at that particular location. There is no easier way around                Japanese Knotweed continued
the hazard to be safe in all weathers and seasons.                                 plant, which will also dislodge the crown. Where local bylaws
    The Appalachian/Long Trail is a “Footpath in the Wilderness,”                  allow bonfires, canes can be pulled and dried on polyethylene
meaning the maintainers do not like extensive road walks to get                    sheet, before careful burning. Living crowns usually have growth
around dangerous obstacles. The current bridge replaces another                    buds and have a characteristic orange/red coloration when cut or
one that was there — before the high water of a July rain storm                    peeled, similar to that of rhizome, described below.
caused the former bridge to get washed out. This bridge is a sus-                      The rhizome (a root-like underground stem) may reach a
pension bridge, with a span of 72 feet (tower to tower). It is situ-               depth of three meters (10 feet) and extend up to seven meters
ated about 35 feet above Mill River. While installing the deck, I                  (23 feet) away from the parent plant. Sections of rhizome as small
was roped up and belayed while I crawled out on the structure                      as 0.7 grams, or smaller than a one cent piece, can grow into a
and bolted the deck boards down. As I have volunteered to adopt                    new plant! Fragmenting the rhizome stimulates the production of
the bridge maintenance for the Green Mountain Club, I have                         small red buds, which grow into new plants.
been there many times. One year we had to install a higher cable               4       We’ll keep everyone posted on what develops.

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