Weeks Forest Carriage Trail

For many years the Guilford Conservation Commission has envisioned a network of public trails in our town with the goal of building appreciation for our natural resources. Much of our work in recent years laid the groundwork for this vision. We have organized monthly walks to explore our natural resource and historic landmarks. We created a guide and map of Guilford's recreational resources for our town's 250th anniversary. We researched and documented several Guilford "ancient" and Class IV roads for reclassification to Legal Trails in 2015. We worked with our Planning Commission in 2015 to write the Natural Resources section of our Town Plan, which included the goals of developing public trails and a Trails Committee in our town.
In 2015, the Windham Regional Commission chose Guilford and neighboring Halifax as their focus towns for a Forest Stewardship Grant. In addition to identifying and mapping our forest resources, Jeff Nugent, GIS specialist at WRC, met with our GCC to review our existing legal trails and to help us envision their development in light of our forested lands. Jeff suggested we begin with a short trail, close to the center of town, and accessible to people of all ages and walking abilities.
We chose an existing .4-mile trail in Weeks Memorial Forest, a 175-acre property donated by the Anthony family to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) with a conservation easement from the Vermont Land Trust. We received permission from NEFF to develop the trail and applied for a 2015 AVCC Tiny Grant in 2015 to map and improve the trail, create a trail guide linked to waypoints along the trail, and install benches. We received a $500 Tiny Grant in June 2015 and spent the next 12 months working with many partners and volunteers (see list) on mapping, research, and trail work. On July 2, 2016, we held a well-attended grand opening of the trail.

Project Contact: 
Linda Lembke
Project Contact Email: 
Town: 
Guilford
Regional Planning Commision: 
Windham Regional Commission
Year Project Started: 
2015
Year Completed: 
2016
Project Lifespan: 
2015-present
Keywords: 
Forest Land
Partnerships
Walks and Talks
Project Accomplishments: 

The Conservation Commission has been rewarded in many ways through this project. Feature stories in our town and regional newspapers have drawn many citizens to the trail for self-guided tours. A town library camp for young children used the trail as part of its outdoor activities in August, and Guilford Cares sponsored a walk for seniors in September. Many townspeople have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty and cultural history along this trail.
The project also helped us build strong ties with our town officials and community organizations and to be part of a greater town effort to make the village Guilford Center a true community center.
With our first Guilford trail in place, the Conservation Commission has now formally established a Trails Committee. One of our CC members will serve as chair and other members of the community will be invited to join. The new committee has recently identified a second larger trail project and will use what we have learned in the first project to plan and develop this new public trail.

Project Partners: 

Reed & Barbara Anthony (landowners)
Windham Regional Commission
New England Forestry Foundation
6th Grade Class, 2015-16, Guilford Central School
Guilford Historical Society
Guilford Planning Commission
Guilford Selectboard
Guilford Road Crew
Community businesses (Black Locust Connection, Clear Solutions, MT3 Unlimited)
Community volunteers

Critical to Success: 
The writing and 1-year timeline of the AVCC Tiny Grant kept our work clear and focused. The varied skill set of our CC members also proved to valuable. Stonework, carpentry, research, writing, and communication skills were all important, as was our combined knowledge of natural and cultural history. Supportive town officials, organizations, and businesses also made this trail project a successful experience.
Challenges: 
We discovered more invasive plants along the trail than expected and spent a good part of each workday clearing these from the trail edges. Invasive plant management will now become part of our bi-annual trail maintenance.