BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont Land Trust and the Friends of the West River Trail are close to finalizing a deal to purchase 21 acres of land along the West River which would allow the conservation groups to add trails to the popular system and preserve land along the river.
The Vermont Land Trust is working with the local organization to purchase the land, which is on the northeast side of the river, across from the professional buildings on Route 30.
The trail has become a popular destination for bikers, walkers and runners since the Friends of the West River Trail improved the kiosk at the trail head and developed the access point near the Marina Restaurant.
Lester Humphreys, a member of the Friends of the West River Trail board, said the trail has seen an increase in use since the group put down crushed stone along the path last year.
"People are hearing about it and they are definitely coming out," he said. "They love it."
The West River Trail has been developed over the past 15 years and the group has been slowly acquiring land along the river.
Supporters hope to eventually develop the old railroad bed 36 miles, from Brattleboro all the way to South Londonderry.
Members of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps are expected to do work along the trail this summer.
Humphreys said the land deal is still a work in progress and the group is trying to raise the money needed to complete the transaction.
If the deal goes through the group hopes to develop new trails and also do culvert and drainage repair and surfacing in the area.
The Friends of the West River Trail has a grant request in with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
If the deal goes through the group will own the land and the Vermont Land Trust will hold the conservation easement to ensure that the land remains open to the public.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will be asked to endorse the land deal at its board meeting Tuesday.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.