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In the context of the open space plan, the Etna Walkway is described as one example of the many opportunities in Hanover to create new public assets by linking existing protected lands and trail easements. Recent public discussion has revealed the desirability of safer, more extensive pedestrian routes in and around Etna Village. Residents would like to walk to the store, Post Office, library, and playing fields at Trumbull Hall. The Etna Walkway and its extensions could provide local recreational opportunity as well as immediate connections to these locations on safe routes away from traffic. Much of the walkway is already in place, with connecting pieces to be established. It could be completed at relatively low cost by means of public-access easements, perhaps with state or federal recreation funding.
The proposed Etna Walkway lies within the Mink Brook corridor. Its first segment will start at the intersection of Highway 38, Greensboro and Great Hollow Roads. It will cross the bridge on Great Hollow Road, go uphill to the northeast on existing trail easements, cross Stevens Road, and continue on existing easements until it intersects with the lower Class VI portion of Etna Highlands Road. From there it will descend into Etna Village. The round-trip walker may retrace his steps or walk on Etna Road back to the starting point. (Hopefully, a proposed pathway along Mink Brook will eliminate the need to walk on the road.) This route already connects to the Mascoma River watershed and the Blueberry Hill area by existing easements, and crossings or small sections of rural roadways. A wider arc around Etna Village, crossing King Road and descending to Etna Road north of the firehouse, could be established with use of some existing easements and acquisition of others. From there, connections to the town-owned wetland off Woodcock Lane, to Trumbull Hall, and to the Appalachian Trail are possible, if not immediately available. Using the length of Partridge Road as a link, the energetic walker can access Highway 38 at its far end, get on to the AT heading towards Velvet Rocks and downtown Hanover, or return to the starting point.
Who Will Use It?
The Etna Walkway and its connections offer something for everyone: challenging slopes for those who walk, cross-country ski, or snowshoe the entire route, lengthy gentle segments for others, and the possibility of good access for those of limited ability. It crosses the proposed open space corridor along Mink Brook twice, and connects in every direction to existing trails and trail easements. It circumscribes and provides access to a historic village, traverses presently and formerly active farmland, and offers views of several historic buildings - all by means of a traditional method of relating to and getting around on the landscape (on foot). There are numerous access points, many of which offer parking.
Open Space Benefits
In addition to the social benefits described above, the Etna Walkway offers the following environmental advantages:
- Surface Water - The pathway would weave across Mink Brook and through a significant segment of the brook's watershed. Being narrow, it would not directly protect the brook, but would serve indirectly by providing access to otherwise "invisible" portions, and thus reminding users of the presence, extent and importance of the brook.
- Wetlands - The pathway would provide more access to the town-owned wetland now reached by a path off Woodcock Lane. It might cross part of a field that is a significant flood plain for Mink Brook above Etna Village.
- Wildlife Habitat - As a pathway this proposal would not provide much significant habitat and be only a marginal wildlife corridor. To the extent that the route of the pathway is broadened and buffered, it would support a greater quantity and variety of wildlife.
- Productive Soils -Approximately 3/4 of the length of this pathway is on former or current hillside farmland. The upland farms probably don't offer much soil quality (having previously been dairy farms with grazing land). One active farm, adjacent to Mink Brook, which at least in part is flooded once or twice a year, probably encompasses adequate or better soil.
- Connections and Buffers -The walkway could become a greenbelt around Etna Village if trail buffers were added to the walkway corridor. It connects to other parts of Hanover's trail network in several different directions. The walkway could become a greenbelt around Etna Village if trail buffers were added to the walkway corridor.
- Scenic Assets- The pathway abuts or crosses a farm that is on the High Priority Action List in the Scenic Locales report. In addition, the pathway, if buffered, could contribute towards meeting several of the general goals for specific types of locales as itemized in the Scenic Locales Report (p. 9): Water Bodies, Roads, Cultural Features, Natural Features and Open Space, Community Gateways and/or Landscape Transitions. Advantages:
- ready access to anyone living in the immediate area;
- safe access to the public amenities of Etna Village without encountering vehicle traffic;
- recreational opportunity in and around one of the town's nodes of population;
- experience of local natural and historic/cultural assets;
- removal of some of the hazardous conflicts between drivers, pedestrians, joggers and Dartmouth athletes in training in the roadways. The advantages of this pathway will only grow as Hanover's population increases.
In the context of the open space plan, the Etna Walkway is described as one example of the many opportunities in Hanover to create new public assets by linking existing protected lands and trail easements. Similar possibilities exist in many other areas of town. cent public discussion has revealed the desirability of safer, more extensive pedestrian routes in and around Etna Village to the store, Post Office, library, playing fields at Trumbull Hall. The Etna Walkway could provide local recreational opportunity as well as immediate connections to these locations on safe routes. Much of the walkway is already in place, with connecting pieces to be established. It could be completed at relatively low cost by means of public-access easements, perhaps with state or federal recreation funding.