This fall Barton Road in West Windsor got a makeover. Road repair is nothing new, but this project was a collaborative effort between the town of West Windsor Conservation Commission, Green Mountain Horse Association and the West Windsor Moonlighters Snowmobile Club. Years of erosion and washouts made travel for snowmobiles, mountain bikes and horseback riders increasingly difficult. Towns can apply for a grant to correct roads that dump water directly into streams and rivers causing increased nutrient loads and sediment. Stormwater that is directed over grassy areas and slowed down by riparian buffers gets the benefit of percolating through the soil which removes nutrients as well as trap sediment. The result is clean water entering the stream during a rain event. However, grant funding is highly competitive and Class IV roads often drop to the bottom of the list. Barton Road was not unlike hundreds of Class IV roads in Vermont that share the same fate.
Interest in the condition of the road was shared by several trail user groups, each willing to contribute to repairing the road to usable condition. Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District (ONRCD) through a program called Tactical Basin Planning, a grant funded through the VT Natural Resources Conservation Council (VNRCC) and the VT Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation (VDEC) reviewed the site with the town of West Windsor and came up with a plan. The three groups would share the cost of materials and the town would provide the labor. The larger culvert, grading and rock fill will be a welcome improvement for the upcoming snowmobile season. Trail users should find this as a great example of how working together with state agencies and the towns can result in preserving public right of ways for recreational use. Grant funds are available for bigger projects which not only restore trails to use, but protect water quality by reducing seasonal erosion and nutrient overloads.