Rail Trail Newsletter 2-2020 #42
Winter is about 2/3s over now. December 1st to March 1st is my way of looking at it. Spring is near now. In this issue I have a couple of stories about people involved in the rail trail world. Walter Bickford of Berlin, MA and Sharline Nabulime of Waltham, MA. Both Waltham and Berlin are on the 104 mile long Mass Central Rail Trail corridor. And the story about the Tri-Community Trail that has a callout to Cameron Bain for his 30 year journey to get that trail built. He never gives up.

And speaking of the MCRT, The feasibility study of the middle state sections is moving forward to completion and below you'll see a story that has some early results. The study will be completed later this spring and there will be a series of events that will unveil it. We'll keep you posted on that.

We also have a couple of stories about the 96 mile long Lamoille Valley Rail Trail in Northern VT finally getting traction to fund the 2/3s needing to be built. This project is near and dear to my heart as the RR company I used to work for, was the last real railroad to own and operate this line. In 2003, I wrote a 3,500+ piece for a local newspaper there that showed why it didn't make sense as a railroad anymore. After that piece ran, the pro-trail forces prevailed. I've dug that up for you too.

Thanks for your kind words!

 Craig Della Penna, Exec. Director
Norwottuck Network
62 Chestnut St. Northampton, MA 01062
413 575 2277 [email protected]
In the News
Walter E. Bickford, environmentalist and former MassWildlife commissioner
By Paula J. Owen, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle
Walter E. Bickford, 76, who has lived almost his entire life in Berlin, Mass remembers a time when life was simpler and there were more woodlands. As a kid, he grew up on local farms and would listen to the stories of his elders while fishing for horned pout and hunting for rabbit and raccoon - stories of a time before Berlin had paved roads, when trolley tracks ran through town and when Wachusett Reservoir was built. READ MORE HERE. (Walter is one of my heroes in the rail trail world. CDP)

Building Trails All over the city of Northampton. Goal is to have 80% of the population within easy access. The City of Northampton just completed the one-mile Rocky Hill shared use path (bike path) through the Burts Bog Greenway, from Sandy Hill Road to Overlook Drive to Burts Pit Road. The trail provides a passive recrea-
tion experience and knits three different neighborhoods together, while avoiding any adverse impacts on the green-way's bog, the only one in the city, and the greenway's rare turtle habitat. READ MORE HERE .  
An Op-Ed Piece by Sharline Nabulime who gave the most dramatic testimony at the Energy Facilities Siting Board last month.
As I served the last few days of my term as Ward 6 councilor, I continued to advocate for the interests of my ward constituents and Waltham residents. Since the inception of my candidacy for Ward 6 councilor, I have heard from many constituents about their desire to see the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail finally completed after over two decades of halting efforts by state and city officials. READ MORE HERE .
The town of Hudson's Cons-Com held a meeting about the Eversource/ DCR project on the MCRT that unveiled the design and plan for the MCRT in Hudson and Sudbury. Read the report HERE .

This image above was sent to me by a rail trail friend from Natick who noticed that the featured real estate listings were very close to both the Mass Central Rail Trail in Wayland and the Upper Charles Trail in Holliston. Click here to read the article.
The MCRT's Feasibility Study is finishing up and will be released this spring.

Here is a link to the presentation by DOT's consultant that has some early data on it the project. The longest rail trail in the Northeast . Caution. 20 meg file.
Communities on the 
 on the MCRT and their websites

Did you know that many communities (or groups like land trusts) on the MCRT alignment are working on their section of the trail? 

Here are links to websites where you can learn who the contact person is, when these groups meet, when hearings are being planned and how to sign up to get notices sent to you directly.
Belmont: Link here  to the town appointed committee. 
Belmont: Link here  to the Belmont Citizens Forum.
Belmont: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group.
Somerville: Link here to the Friends of the Community Path Facebook group. 
Waltham: Link here to the Waltham Land Trust's site.
Walham: Link here to the Waltham Bike Committee.
Waltham: Link here to the City's page about the MCRT.
Weston: Link here to the town's page about the MCRT
Weston: Link here to the history of both the RR and the advocacy to create the trail. Over 25 years of advocacy. It is now open.
Wayland: Link here
Sudbury: Link here for the N-S intersecting trail--Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. 
Hudson: Link here for the NE-SW intersecting trail--Assabet River Rail Trail.
Berlin-Hudson: Link here to the new FaceBook group.
Berlin: Link here goes to the town's Rail Trail Committee. They also have a pretty nice website with pictures of the existing dead RR corridor along other maps and images of a future trail. Link here .
Wayside segment of the MCRT: Link here to a history of DCR's efforts on this.
Clinton Greenway Conservation Trust: Link here .
Wachusett Greenways area: Link here .
East Quabbin Land Trust: Link here
Palmer coming soon 
Ware:  Link here to the Facebook group about this segment of the MCRT'. 
Belchertown: Link for the nascent site for Friends of the Belchertown Greenway.
Amherst, Hadley on DCR's Norwottuck section of the MCRT: Link here .
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails website.
Northampton area: Link here to the Friends of Northampton Trails Facebook.
Dedham Rail Trail Referendum Question
The Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail would like to thank the Board of Registrars for voting on Wednesday night to certify the approximately 2,000 signatures that have been gathered by volunteers and vetted by our Town Clerk Paul Munchbach.  Read more.
BIG NEWS! – Prospect St Tunnel Funding approved!!
We are excited to announce that funding of the Prospect Street tunnel on the SNETT rail trail in Franklin, MA has been approved!
State Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin) and Rep. Mike Soter (R-Bellingham) shared this great news with the Franklin & Bellingham Rail Trail Committee members, guests and visitors at at a recent event. Read more.
$1.3M grant awarded to link rail trail in Franklin and Bellingham, Mass
A hefty state grant announced this week will allow the Franklin and Bellingham sections of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail to finally be linked. Read more here.
MassTrails Wants To Fund Your Trails Projects
Grant applications are due by February 1.
MassTrails , a collaboration between the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and MassDOT, is soliciting grant applications from community groups across the state to fund the design and construction of new trail projects in 2020. ( Did you get yours in on time? Belchertown did. Yes, I said Belchertown!! Over the past 20+ years, the local land trust there has been acquiring bits and pieces of the old RR. The town now owns over 70% of the MCRT corridor there and if the grant is approved, a good long section of over 3 miles can begin to be planned. CDP ) Read more .
The completion of a 93-mile rail trail across northern Vermont would help link an ever-expanding network of recreation trails across New England and beyond, advocates say.
The effort got a big boost last week when Vermont Gov. Phil Scott asked lawmakers to approve $2.8 million as the state’s share of the estimated $14.1 million cost of completing the remaining 60 miles of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. It runs from Swanton, near the Canadian border, to St. Johnsbury, not far from the Connecticut River border with New Hampshire Read more
Lamoille Valley RT UPDATE
The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) is a historic treasure extending across some of Northern Vermont’s most beautiful landscapes. The 93-mile Trail spans the breadth of Northern Vermont from the
Connecticut River to within two miles of Lake Champlain. .

And in 2003, I wrote an op-ed piece for the Hardwick, VT newspaper that laid out the case as to why the corridor didn't work anymore as a railroad. Read that here .
This Epic Massachusetts Railroad Bridge Hike Is Truly Spectacular
On this hike, you’ll cross paths with some of the most beautiful architecture in Massachusetts.
The Keystone Arches Bridges trail is an easy hike with amazing views of several 19th-century bridges. Located between Chester and Middlefield, this trail is full of gorgeous natural scenery, as well as plenty of photo-worthy vistas. Read more here .
While at the Big E's Train Show, I saw the oddest thing. On Sunday, January 26th, I went to the big train show in West Springfield, looking for rare maps and photos. Little did I know, that I'd see something very odd . Click on the image above.
Bourne Bike Path Group To Seek More State Funding
The group charged with overseeing installation of a pedestrian and bicycle path from Falmouth to the Cape Cod Canal will be going after additional project funding from the state. The committee has agreed to apply for another $300,000 from the common-wealth. Read more here .
GROTON MA – The Squannacook River Rail Trail has metaphorically cleared another hurdle by literally clearing land.
Squannacook Greenways, Inc., the nonprofit organization that’s been raising money to pay for the trail, announced this month that the trail running from Townsend to West Groton has been fully cleared of trees.

Ground Breaking in Westfield, MA
The Western Mass city of Westfield recently broke ground on a new segment of its Columbia Greenway that will extend the interstate rail trail through the city’s downtown district to a riverfront park on the Westfield River.   Read more here.
Winchester, MA to improve navigation along the Tri-Community Greenway
Bikers and pedestrians may have an easier time navigating the Tri-Community Greenway this summer. The Lawrence and Lillian Solomon Foundation has given Winchester a grant for $4,000 to make wayfinding improvements along the bike path. It opened last June after 30 years in the making. Read more.
Interesting Stories From Around the Country -- and Sometimes Beyond
U.S. Congressman tours latest rail trail section
LONDONDERRY — Happy trails continue in Londonderry, and U.S. Congressman Chris Pappas enjoyed a close look at them Friday afternoon.
Pappas, a Democrat representing New Hampshire’s 1st District, came to Londonderry to tout new legislation introduced this week. The Connecting America's Active Transportation System Act would provide $500 million in funding for a federal grant program to help build connected active-transportation routes including trails, sidewalks and bikeways that support the health and economic growth of communities. Read more.
Get Rolling on These 7 Dreamy Bike Paths. It's not the destination; it's the journey.
Some great cycling routes take riders through epic landscapes, while others are beloved for connecting picturesque towns. Some simply get commuters to work without too much incline. Read more here .
The Surprising Link Between Parks and Violence Prevention

Studies that connect green space to mental health and wellbeing abound. And this connection is intuitive—people have long retreated to parks and natural places to recharge from the pressures of daily life. Less known is the fact that greening is gaining recognition as an effective violence prevention strategy. Read more here.
Though I do know many of the people getting this missive, we are now over 10,000 people. And thus many of you probably have no clue about who I am or where I came from. Click the link above to go to a bio/CV .
Amazingly, Constant Contact alerted Tiffany Lyman-Olszewski, the editor here, that this newsletter is in the top 10% of all of Constant Contact's newsletters, worldwide, in terms of readership engagement.