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Recreation Notes: Towns Honor Accident Victim

Caption: "Team Pissy," named for the nickname of Jen Kinnarney, gathers prior to a softball tournament at the Tunbridge recreation fields to benefit the Kinnarney family. Jen Kinnarney died June 8 from injuries sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident the previous day in Tunbridge.
Photo courtesy Andrea Chase

Caption: "Team Pissy," named for the nickname of Jen Kinnarney, gathers prior to a softball tournament at the Tunbridge recreation fields to benefit the Kinnarney family. Jen Kinnarney died June 8 from injuries sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident the previous day in Tunbridge. Photo courtesy Andrea Chase

Tragedy afflicted Tunbridge last month when 20-year-old Jen Kinnarney, of South Royalton, died from injuries suffered in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

While both communities mourned, more than 100 friends gathered to help make things a little easier for the Kinnarney family.

A double-elimination softball tournament held June 21 at the Tunbridge recreation fields raised $2,400, which the Kinnarneys will use to cover the cost of a headstone at Jen’s burial site in South Royalton.

The event was spearheaded by friend Tyler Wight, who was among the party of six riding together in the Ward Hill section of Tunbridge when the accident occurred.

“When my aunt (June Wight) died last year, we did something similar,” said Tyler Wight, 23. “We just wanted to do whatever we could to help.”

The town of Tunbridge donated the use of the field and cook shack, amenities that normally cost $200. Ten teams of 12-14 players each participated, including “Team Pissy,” named for Jen Kinnarney’s nickname. Jen’s parents, Jim and Gloria, her brother, Jamie, and extended family members were part of the unit.

Even though the tournament was only two weeks after the accident, participants behaved much like Jen — upbeat and enthusiastic.

“Overall, people were excited and happy to be there. They knew it was for a good cause,” Wight said.

Jen played softball, basketball and soccer at South Royalton School, where she graduated in 2012. She’d spent the last two years working as a preschool teacher at Magic Mountain Children’s Center in her hometown.

Jamie Kinnarney was proud of the community for coming together to support the family.

“It was awesome. It goes to show how great of an area this is,” he said.

“To get that many people together a week after the funeral. ... It was a great way to celebrate Jen’s life.”

Paddlers’ Trail Expands: The Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail will now cover the entire length of the river.

The Connecticut River Watershed Council, Vermont River Conservancy and the Appalachian Mountain Club have collaborated to expand the paddlers’ trail — a series of primitive campsites and access points — to include the 130 miles of the river through Massachusetts and Connecticut to Long Island Sound.

The paddlers’ trail concept was founded 22 years ago when the Upper Valley Land Trust, a Hanover-based nonprofit, began managing campsites on both the Vermont and New Hampshire sides of the river and made their availability known to canoers and kayakers. It has since drawn support from a network of Twin State nonprofits and volunteers, who maintain an informative website and waterproof maps to help guide paddlers.

Until recently, the trail served only the 280 miles of the Connecticut from its northern New Hampshire headwaters to the Massachusetts border.

The website, connecticutriverpaddlerstrail.org, has been updated to include campsites and access points through the southern New England section.

A celebration of the initiative was held June 21 in East Haddam, Conn., and plans are ongoing to add campsites and resources for paddlers along the lower portion of the route.

“This trail is an investment for those who are enthusiastic about being out on the water, and the 410-mile source from the river’s source to the sea is one of New England’s iconic adventures,” Connecticut River Watershed Council executive director Andy Fisk said in a news release.

Vermont River Conservancy adviser Noah Pollock has been at the forefront of the effort to expand the trail southward.

“We have participated in on-the-ground assessments of potential campsite locations in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, have created new web content and are part of an ad-hoc steering committee leading the expansion effort,” Pollock wrote in an email. “It’s a long sought-after goal, and I’m excited by the collective energy among trail partners and local citizens to make this a reality.”

There’s much work to be done if the southern section is to match the Twin State portion of the trail. While river access points in Massachusetts and Connecticut are plentiful, campsites welcoming paddlers are relatively scarce.

The paddlers’ trail website lists nine such campsites in Massachusetts and Connecticut; Vermont and New Hampshire boast four times that many.

“It’s going to be a couple of years before we get there,” Fisk said in a phone interview from his Greenfield, Mass., office. “We’ve been very pleased with all of the property owners we’ve contacted so far in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Some of (the potential campsites) are on municipal land, some are on state land or land owned by non-profits. They’ve all said, ‘Great, let’s figure it out,’ which is a good sign as we move forward.”

UVLT Adds Acreage: The Upper Valley Land Trust has recently helped conserve three parcels totaling 386 acres in Hanover Center, Corinth and Bath, N.H.

Forty acres of wooded land, including 2⁄3-mile of streams, are part of the Hanover Center easement donated last month by Phil and Kate Harrison.

The parcels, adjacent to the 50-acre Alswell Farm conserved in December and additional parcels totaling 115 acres owned by the town of Hanover, are within a 1,700-acre block of unfragmented land, according to a UVLT news post.

The area, open to walking and exploring, is bisected by Wolfeboro Road and accessible by foot by parking at either the Hanover Center green or on Wolfeboro Road prior to its Class VI section.

Home to the headwaters of Slade Brook and Monahan Brook, the newest Hanover Center conservation easements help protect important riparian buffer zones that provide habitat for many forms of wildlife.

“We’re really excited to keep this area a natural area,” UVLT vice president Peg Merrens said. “It’s close to the Appalachian Trail and it’s a place where bear, moose and other species are known to roam and feed.”

Another riparian buffer was recently conserved in Corinth, a 230-acre parcel that includes a half-mile of Meadow Brook shoreline.

The land, part of the Orange County Headwaters Project conservation initiative in Corinth and Washington, Vt., is owned by Corinth-based Second Growth Holdings LLC and was conserved with the help of a grant from the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund. Issued by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the grant also helped UVLT conserve 346 acres in Corinth in 2008 and 77 more acres two years ago.

According to UVLT conservation project manager Sara Cavin, the organization hopes to soon add another 79 acres to the network.

In Bath, N.H., 116 acres of working dairy farmland owned by Jerry and Kathy Troy were conserved by way of an easement through funding from the federal Farm and Ranch Protection Program and the Bath Conservation Commission. The land contains includes 40 acres of pasture, hayfields and forestland and an open field with views of Mount Moosilauke and Mount Washington.

Kathy Troy had been part of a 10-person committee that inventoried the town’s natural resources.

“My family has been farming in Bath for many years, and we see wildlife all the time,” Kathy Troy said in a UVLT news release. “(This easement allows me to) share what I know about how important farmland is to wildlife and learn about how to manage the habitat at the same time.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.