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 Barclay@madriver.com, 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. email@example.com 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 www.madriverpath.com Brook Trail. The second – longer term project – involves relocating firstname.lastname@example.org 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) 2 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 http://www.vtsprawl.org/ or email email@example.com. 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 3 NONPROFIT ORG. A S S O C I AT I O N U.S. POSTAGE PO Box 683 PAID Waitsfield, Vermont 05673 WAITSFIELD, VT 05673 PERMIT #15 Printed on recycled paper 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.