Category Archives: Greenways for Health

Regulars on the MRG

Some folks are “Regulars” on the MRG. It was fun to meet Marian and her two young bikers, Lilly and Robbie, taking advantage of a nice Spring day. Marian says they try to ride on the MRG every day.

Rollerblade-Regular Chris

Working on the MRG pollinator gardens each day offers an opportunity to meet some of the MRG “regulars”. This is Chris who roller blades daily. She covers many miles as she skates back and forth, sometimes at least 10 miles. Since much of the MRG is in the shade of trees, it offers respite on these hot, muggy days. It’s a joy to see so many different people, in so many ways, enjoying this beautiful community resource.

Precious Cargo!


It’s been fun to see so many children on the MRG of late.  They come by strollers, tricycles, scooters, bikes with training wheels  .  .  . and child chariots.  Such precious cargo!

Trail Riders of the MRG!

  Spring has sprung, bringing us a new crop of trail riders!


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The MRG – Equal, Accessible, and Resilient Public Space


“Equal, accessible and resilient public space can promote civic health during a pandemic. Over the long term it will promote the health, welfare and equality of our cities for decades to come.”

The Spaces That Make Cities Fairer and More Resilient – NYT

The value of the MRG to Lebanon and surrounding communities is vibrantly evident during this time of pandemic. Whole families biking, parents with infants and toddlers in strollers, roller bladers, joggers, dog walkers, wild flower aficionados, and birders, all out enjoying the beautiful natural space and recreational opportunities offered by the Mascoma River Greenway.

Here are a few tips from Trail Finder as to keeping safe on public trails during this pandemic:

  • Make the health of everyone in your community your priority. Go out only if you’re feeling healthy and you have not had close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • If you drive to access outdoor spaces, don’t carpool with non-household members.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others and wear a mask in a public setting, including the outdoors.
  • Please leash your dog! They are members of your household and need to keep their social distance as well (and most standard leashes are 6 feet in length).
  • AVOID HIGH USE AREAS. If you see a lot of cars at a trailhead, try a different trail or go during a less busy time of day.

Stay safe and be well!


Snowy and cold yesterday – sunny and warm today. Bikers, runners, strollers, dog walkers, and this little guy on his scooter – everyone enjoying this beautiful Spring day.

Goats NOT Herbicides!

Eco Goats

As we expand our MRG Pollinator Corridor to support healthy habitat for bees, butterflies, birds, and other creatures, it is especially exciting to learn of the Lebanon Recreation & Parks Department’s plans for controlling poison ivy: “Goats NOT Herbicides.”

The pilot project will begin Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at Riverside Community ParkCivic Memorial Park, Basin Field, and on the Mascoma River Greenway near the public art sculpture “Wheels”.

The goats and sheep will be fenced in around their browsing (eating) areas containing poison ivy, which will include shade and water for the animals. The animal’s caregivers will also be onsite.

For some “Goats 101” if you stop by to see them at one of these sites:

  • Respect the herders and listen to what they say; they are here to keep the animals safe and need your cooperation.
  • Please do not try to pet the animals; goats can eat and be exposed to poison ivy with no harm to them, but touching the goats exposed to poison ivy oils can affect humans.
  • Keep dogs on a leash at all times.
  • Please remember good trail etiquette and slowdown in the work zone.
  • If you would like to stop and watch the animals, please stand off the trail to allow other users to pass safely.

Lebanon is not alone in experimenting with goats for poison ivy control.  This is the second year that Montpelier, VT has used goats to control poison ivy along the city’s recreational path. They’ve been used in Londonderry NH too. (Goats will eat invasive Japanese knotweed as well. )

We look forward to seeing how this pilot project goes in hopes that we can utilize this method in the future.

Thanks to Lebanon Recreation & Parks Director, Paul Coats, for pursuing this non-toxic method of poison ivy control!

Pollinator Corridor Plans

Have you noticed these signs and new plantings along the MRG?

Upper Valley residents are becoming aware of the risks associated with pollinator collapse and are responding by planting organic native perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees to provide food and habitat for pollinators and other creatures, as well as enhanced environment for humans.

There is a plan for a pollinator corridor along the MRG. With funding from the Robert F. Church Charitable Trust, we have begun to create what will be a string of pollinator gardens, fruit trees, and berry bushes for bees, butterflies, birds, and even hungry humans. Check out our new Pollinator Corridor Page at this site and start looking for pollinators along the Mascoma River Greenway. Some of our new gardens will not hit their stride for a year or two but look for the Milkweeds (Common and Butterfly), Purple Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans, Liatris, Anise Hyssop, New England Asters, Yarrow, Bee Balm, Borage, Coreopsis, Goldenrod, and other flowering pollinator plants as they emerge. If you get a good photo of bees, butterflies, or hummingbirds enjoying the new plantings, please share to the Lebanon Photo Gallery!

I spy with my little eye three busy pollinators on the MRG milkweed!

Beyond Bicycle Lanes

Around the country, communities large and small are boldly implementing active transportation strategies to make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to connect to their destinations by being physically active.

Shared Bicycle Lane Symbol (Sharrow)

Shared Bicycle Lane Symbol (Sharrow)

In Portland, OR, one of four Platinum Level Bicycle Friendly Communities (along with Boulder & Fort Collins, CO and Davis, CA), transportation and bicycle program officials have been at work for over 20 years, and have learned a few things about what makes a city bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

As part of the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community Program, these and hundreds of other communities, universities, states, and businesses are changing the way we design transportation systems, which directly impacts our choices for how we get around town to do errands, go to school, work, and play.

Bicycle Boulevard sign

Bicycle Boulevard sign

Lucky for us, Portland has created a handy brochure that outlines strategies that create a more safe, inclusive, and holistic active transportation system. Some improvements are relatively easy, like making a map of the city’s active transportation system, painting the roads with bicycle boxes, adding symbols for sharing the road with bicycles (sharrows), and selecting low speed, low traffic volume streets to designate as bicycle boulevards. Other treatments are more expensive, like bike/ped friendly bridges, bicycle traffic signals at intersections, and constructing separated pathways like the Mascoma River Greenway.

Portland Sunday Parkways

Portland Sunday Parkways

I recently had the good fortune to participate in one of Portland’s “Sunday Parkways” events, which draw thousands of people each year to bicycle and walk between parks, enjoying food, music and activities on a system of streets that are closed to cars. What fun!

Maybe someday Lebanon will join Concord and Keene, and achieve a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation – who knows?

Mascoma River Greenway’s Winter Charm

img_2268If you haven’t explored the downtown Lebanon section of the Mascoma River Greenway, grab your skis, snowshoes, a few of your closest friends, and a dog if you have one and check it out. With good snow cover, this short section of trail makes for an excellent out and back winter journey on flat terrain. At the APD end, you can walk over to the new APD trails behind Harvest Hill, a sweet network of gently rolling trails designed by the Upper Valley’s own Morton Trails.

And if you’re wondering about the health benefits of cross-country skiing, here’s what WebMD has to say:

“For building endurance, cross-country skiing is one of the best sports you can do,” says Stephen Olvey, MD, an associate professor of clinical neurological surgery at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. It also burns more calories than almost any other activity.

Cross-country skiing is an aerobic sport. That means you move nonstop for an extended period of time while your heart pumps oxygen to your muscles, providing them with energy. “It is about grinding it out over the long haul with no help from gravity,” Olvey says.

NRT winter & horseThe muscles strengthened while you cross-country ski vary with your skiing style. But they typically include the thigh muscles, gluteus maximus (bottom), gastrocnemius (calves), and biceps and triceps (front and back of the upper arm).

In terms of calories, a 150-pound person burns about 500 to 640 calories per hour while cross-country skiing, depending on the effort level.

Here are Olvey’s tips for getting started:

  • Don’t overdo it. Be conservative in how long you plan to ski.
  • Prepare yourself ahead of time by using an elliptical trainer to avoid muscle strain.
  • Bring fluids and snacks, especially if you’re heading to a remote area.
  • Wear layers of clothing that keep you warm and allow for easy movement.
  • Be safe. Let someone know where you will be and when you expect to return. “It wouldn’t take long to become hypothermic,” Olvey says.