Volunteers work at setting up signs marking  the Mad River Path.

At 26 years old, the Mad River Path Association (MRPA) will soon have 6.5 miles of path, over six sections: three in Waitsfield, two in Warren and one in Fayston. Like its namesake river, the path connects people to the ecology and communities of the Mad River Valley and is an easily accessible recreation and transportation resource.

Members of the MRPA board are currently organizing the annual meeting, which takes place May 27 at American Flatbread, followed by a benefit bake for the path association.

The MRPA’s mission is to build, maintain and conserve a system of continuous public pathways from Warren to Moretown to foster a healthy community by connecting the people, businesses and special places of the Mad River Valley. It’s a great mission, right? Some might wonder why it’s taking so long to connect the dots of this path system.

MRPA president, Laura Brines, answered that question.

“Of course, we are working patiently to expand and connect the Mad River Path. Mostly the MRPA works with private landowners and, simply put, it just takes time to develop relationships, meet the landowners’ needs (such as planting a screening hedge), fundraising to pay for an easement or assuring them that there are no liability concerns, thanks to a Vermont state statute. We are grateful to the landowners who have shared their land by allowing a path section to exist. And we thank those landowners who are considering such a generous act. The board keeps the faith that progress will continue. After all, Stowe did it! Burlington did it! Middlebury, Charlotte, Montpelier, Barre, on and on. All have connected multi-use trail systems. We believe the Mad River Valley can too,” Brines said.

Each year the MRPA produces a new trail guide. This guide is included in a membership mailing, now underway. As a member-supported, 501(C)3 nonprofit organization, the MRPA relies on membership dues for the bulk of its operating budget.

Here are some path updates:

• Jared Coyne is the new trail manager. Coyne has been a Sugarbush ski patrol lift captain for the past two winters and has lots of trail-building experience.
• Laura Arnesen is the producer of the Mad Dash happening on Sunday, October 9.
• Fiona Jamieson is the new office support person.
• The MRPA celebrates the Mad River Riders’ expansion of trails and looks forward to future projects to collaborate on.
• The MRPA is working with the Valley Moves/Active Transportation Planning group.
• Boardwalk section of the Village Path, connecting Carroll Road and Skatium, should be complete by mid-June. Charlie Hosford, • MRPA board member and boardwalk project chief, has worked with volunteers to remove and rebuild this section.
• Waitsfield School Path: This new, one-half mile path will be built after school gets out.

Go to www.madriverpath.com for more information about the path.