South Hero Trails Committee
Meeting of April 22, 2021 at 7:00 PM
Present: Dave Hobbs (committee chair), Susan Ryan( member of committee), Bridgett Kerr (member), Guy Maguire (South Hero Land Trust), Jack Brooks (member), Pogo Senior (resident), Chuck Hulse (member), Dave, Emily (South Hero Land Trust), Peter O’Malley (member)
Dave welcomed Pogo to the meeting as a member of the public and invited his comments on the “Knee Deep” trail, see below for details.
The group went through each of the public trails in town and discussed management needs and various members volunteered to be “Trail Stewards” for public trails. Each trail steward volunteer agreed to ascertain trail conditions on a regular basis (every 2 months or so) and report to the committee and suggest actions for each trail to address needs/concerns for access. Chuck mentioned that some members of the committee were not able to make it, so the group agreed to keep these trail steward appointments flexible until those other committee members had a chance to also pick trails. The group also agreed that there could be more than one trail steward per trail, who could work together and cover for eachother when needed.
Trails discussed were as follows:
1) Roy Marsh Trail – Chuck Hulse volunteered to steward this trail. Guy mentioned that Neal Blanchard might also like to be involved as steward on this trail. Chuck and Dave discussed various needs on the trail. Chuck has been cleaning up trash this spring along the trail.
2) Tracy Woods Trail and Landon Community Trail – Emily suggested Guy/South Hero Land Trust be the primary trail steward for Tracy Woods, Round Pond, and Landon Trail, as these are all conserved properties owned by different private landowners (and the state, in the case of Round Pond) with easements held by Vermont Land Trust, Lake Champlain Land Trust, and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. SHLT has been coordinating trail work with these partners on these trails for many years and so it makes sense for them to continue to be the main point of contact. Guy also welcomed others to be co-stewards of these trails.
4) Round Pond Trail: VT State Parks (the owners of the parcel) have not been able to consistently keep the public trails mowed in the last three years, SHLT has been in communication with Parks and they have tentatively agreed to let SHLT coordinate a volunteer to mow the trails. Emily invited volunteers to help with that. Dave and Jack both expressed their interest, and also mentioned that Bob Chutter may be interested as well.
5) Landon- Round Pond Connector Trail: Dave and Bob Chutter already mow this trail, and Dave offered to be the steward of this trail as well. While also on the Round Pond property, SHLT already has permission to mow this trail from a separate agreement with State Parks.
6) Bike Ferry Trail. The committee discussed the fact that this trail is owned by VT State F&W and co-managed by Local Motion, so it is not our responsibility per se, but that a volunteer could still go out and assess trail needs and do minor maintenance like clearing sticks and trash from the trail. Local Motion has also been engaging with SHLT, the Selectboard, and the Rec Commission to plan how to address safety concerns at the intersection of the Allen point access road and Martin Rd, and there will be new signs going up and potentially more as well. The group also discussed looking at how other towns have dealt with cyclist/resident interactions. One possibility is to apply for a VOREC grant from the state to come up with a recreation/economic impact plan for the town. Chuck said the Rec. Commission will follow up with SHLT and Local Motion. Jack offered to talk to his contacts at the Kingdom Trails Association and how they have handled recreation access and safety as the area has grown in popularity with mountain bikers.
The committee then discussed 4 potential public access trails that are not currently open but could be some day:
1) Keeler Bark Park Trail – Guy reported that Brock Freyer, our district wetlands ecologist, and he walked the property earlier that day. Brock approved of the trail and commended the builders on their use of puncheon style boardwalks so as to negate any impediments to waterflow where the trail crosses the wetland. He will send a follow up email to Guy reiterating his support and his affirmation that no wetlands permits are needed for the trail as presently planned. Guy is now following up with the permitting specialists for Shorelines, Transportation, and Act 250 to determine what permits, if any, we will need. Preliminary discussions suggest we will not need any permits, but we are awaiting final confirmation on that, at which point we will send that to the selectboard as requested and presumably more forward with the trail, hoping to open this summer.
2) Knee Deep Bay Trail – Pogo shared that he is the new owner of the property where this trail is located. Since there is no parking and the area is a quiet neighborhood, he felt more comfortable with it being for neighbors only, and not to be a high-use trail. Dave said that there was a settlement document that outlines future use that came about from a lawsuit between the former owner and the town, that he would like to go over with Pogo. Dave and Pogo agreed to find a time to go walk the trail. Pogo also said the trail is very hard to traverse with many down trees and difficult terrain. Nancy Patch, the county forester, has assessed the trees on the property and determined they needed to stay because of shoreline regulations, but Pogo was able to go in and clear some branches to make the trail more accessible.
3) “Lavin Property” Trail (tentative, not actual) – No changes on the status of this trail. Bridgett agreed to be the steward of this trail if and when we are able to make it a public access site, and will help keep the project moving forward in the meantime.
4) Robinson Farm Trail (tentative, not actual) – The committee has been talking with Steve Robinson and other neighboring landowners about a potential trail to connect the Roy Marsh to South Street. Emily, Steve and Guy are doing some research into the survey maps for the property that we need before moving forward or contacting/following up with other landowners.
5) Recreation Park/Water Wigglers Trail – Bridgett offered to steward this trail. SHLT turned in the application for the storywalk project grant and is waiting to hear back.
The committee also discussed creating an information pamphlet based off the trails case statement which can be used for outreach purposes. Guy will send the draft that Bridgett and him worked on.