We’ve got a full plate this fall, dear MRGI supporters, starting with an inaugural Riverwalk and a party in Williamsburg! Let’s get to it:
- Your celebration-minded co-moderators – Gaby, John, and Neal – will throw a pizza and beer fundraising party at the home of Neal and Susannah Bastek on Saturday, December 3rd on Village Hill in Williamsburg. From 2:00-4:00 we’ll walk the new trail that the Williamsburg Woodland Trails Committee created this summer from Ashfield Rd. to the site of the dam that failed in 1874 and back. It’s a two-mile round trip. Then at 5:00, we’ll gather at the Basteks for an Autumn Bash. We’re asking our party goers to contribute a small donation for the design and printing of the self-guided tour brochure for this walk that we’ll do in conjunction with the Williamsburg Woodland Trails Committee. Please RSVP, and we’ll send you details.
- The latest self-guided riverwalk brochure focuses on Florence from Riverside Drive to the Meadow Street Bridge and is now available either at Historic Northampton or the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. We can also mail you a copy. It’s a fascinating story that Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee has written, exploring the unique juxtaposition of industrial activity and the abolitionist movement.
3. The “Goat Path” connects the end of the Northampton section of the Mass Central Rail Trail to Haydenville. As we write this, the Williamsburg Highway Department is out on the trail turning a steep, eroded slope into a safer and more ecologically stable trail down to South Main Street, with a switchback, paved surface, guard rails, and native plantings to restore the slope. Cheers to Gaby and the Williamsburg Mill River Greenway Committee for marshalling the funds and people power to get this done!
- This summer, Amherst College sophomore Gil Wermeling made huge strides in mapping invasive plant species on three large stretches of the Mill River that impact our big farms – Smith Voke’s agricultural fields in Northampton, Grow Food Northampton Community Farm in Florence, and Valley View Farm in Haydenville. Areas shaded in black on this map are now mapped and catalogued according to species and level of invasion on a dozen of our worst offenders, such as Japanese Knotweed, Bittersweet, and Multiflora Rose. This information will be incorporated into a grant proposal to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service next year, seeking to tackle the problem in one comprehensive ten-mile project. Any private landowners along the Mill River who are interested in joining forces, please be in touch with Gaby who is spearheading these efforts. And thanks to Gil for this outstanding work!
- Did you know there used to be a village on Roberts Meadow Brook, a major tributary of the Mill that feeds into Leeds? You can find out all about it in John Clapp’s The Lost Village of Roberts Meadow. It’s the story of a forgotten village founded in 1770 in the northwest corner of Northampton. You can buy the book at Historic Northampton on Bridge St., Northampton.
- We’ve got fantastic news about the Mill River Greenway from the end of the Mass Central Rail Trail in Haydenville to the center of Williamsburg, but you’ll have to be patient because it will take 6 to 8 years for Mass DOT to execute the project. The Greenway will run along Route 9 from the Haydenville Library to the intersection with South Street in downtown Burgy, separated from traffic by a landscaped curb. The Williamsburg Mill River Greenway Committee has been working closely with the MA DOT for the last three years to incorporate plans for the Greenway into their scheduled rebuild of Route 9, slated for roughly 8 years from now. Plans for this “linear park” include several green spaces along the way, and a link to the MassCentral Rail Trail dismount at the foot of South Main Street. Deep gratitude to Nick Dines, who has been spearheading this effort for several years! Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to get involved as the project progresses (During this phase, it would be spectacular if anyone wished to provide pro bono survey or engineering services!).