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Public passage on ‘Forest Road 383’ trail should be allowed

To the editor: I am writing this letter out of concern about the loss of public passage on the trail that goes south along the eastern side of the East Branch of the Deerfield River.

This trail has recently been posted with “No Trespassing” signs by the owner/logger of a 383-acre section of land that the trail crosses.

This section of private land is sandwiched between land that is part of the Green Mountain National Forest and Great River Hydro land. This trail is marked on many maps as Forest Road 383. It starts at the Stratton Mountain parking lot on the Stratton-Arlington Road. It follows the beautiful and pristine East Branch of the Deerfield River down to where it meets the Somerset Reservoir. From that point you have access to the Grout Pond Trails as well as the trails along the East and West sides of Somerset Reservoir.

This trail was, around 1920, the path of the Long Trail before it was moved to go over Glastenbury Mountain. It was also a Stratton town road on the F. W. Beers & Co. map of 1869. Around that time it had a couple of wood mills along the river. More recently it has been used by hikers, fishermen (and fisherwomen), cross-country skiers, hunters and snowmobilers. The use of this trail has been open, notorious, and continuous for over 100 years now.

If this isn’t an example of Implied Easement – By Prescription, I just don’t know what is. I am hopeful that those with more knowledge of the right of public passage on this trail will comment on this situation. U.S. Forest Service, Great River Hydro, Town of Stratton, what say you?

Mickey Nowak,

West Wardsboro


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