Organizers of new Bristol Trail Network celebrate accomplishments

BRISTOL — The group building a trail around Bristol hosted a party at the Bristol Recreation Club pavilion on Oct. 14 to celebrate the progress made this year toward completing the project.
The 24 people who attended walked the section of trail behind Mount Abraham Union High School with amazing views to the west, and then had a great potluck lunch.
The mission of the Bristol Trail Network, or BTN, is to create and maintain trails around Bristol in order to promote access to and appreciation for natural, historical, and cultural resources in the vicinity and to support the recreation and education of residents and visitors alike. Further, through trails, the group seeks to foster human connections within the community, tie community members more closely to the landscape, and enhance Bristol’s potential as an all-seasons destination for recreation and tourism.
Organizers of the Bristol Trail Network effort highlighted some milestones toward creating the tail:
•  June: First meeting attended by over 40 people; over 160 people now on email list.
•  Connected with numerous organizations, including the Middlebury Area Land Trust (which created the Trail Around Middlebury), Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Addison County Bike Club, U.S. Forest Service, Addison County Regional Planning Commission, Watershed Center, Bristol Fitness, teachers at Bristol Elementary School and Mount Abe, and more.
•  July: BTN volunteers assisted Bristol Family Campground in mapping two miles of mountain biking trails on the campground’s property.
•  Trail Design Team reviewed plans for the “Inner Loop” in August and established intentions for basic trail specifications
•  Secured permissions for trail building on town land, future business park land, and future Stoney Hill development land.
•  Fifteen volunteers spent 120 hours to expand and improve trail around the high school.
•  Collaborated with Bristol Conservation Commission and Bristol Historical Society on development of historic interpretive trail around the foundations of the old Coffin Factory at the bottom of South Street (to be continued in the spring after funds have been raised for the interpretive sign).
•  Fourteen volunteers spend 21 hours pulling two truckloads of trash out of the Coffin Factory site.
•  Volunteers created a trail around the dump (13 people, 64 hours). Unfortunately, due to a boundary dispute with a neighbor, this trail is not currently open. Lesson learned: Even if you have permission to build on land, touch base with the neighbors before you build. BTN representatives will meet with the selectboard later this fall to discuss how to proceed in that location.
•  Patty and Kevin Hanson at Hogback Brewery in September dedicated their current bottling of “The Coffin Factory,” a West Coast IPA, to the interpretive trail project. A portion of all proceeds from sales of that beer will be donated to support the sign that will go up at the entrance to that trail.
Bristol Trail Network members said that over the winter Bristol residents may not hear a great deal from them, but assured that they will be laying the groundwork for next summer.
Primary winter projects include securing permissions along the southern edge of town and applying for a Vermont Recreation/Trail/Parks grant to fund Vermont Youth Conservation Corps team next summer.
BTN officials expressed their appreciation to everyone who offered  enthusiasm and support in this first season.

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