WILTON — A generous donation from Cliff and Norma Fox of Wilton has kickstarted the process of extending the Norwalk River Valley Trail north of Skunk Lane. The money, in combination with other donations, will fund the $116,000 in pre-construction work for the Skunk-Pimpewaug section.

As long time users of and donors to the Norwalk River Valley Trail, Cliff and Norma Fox have been longing for the trail to extend past its current stopping point at Skunk Lane. The Foxes reached out to Charlie Taney, president of the Friends of the NRVT, and asked what it would take to start work on the next section. They have supported other sections of the trail’s construction, including the link from Autumn Ridge Road to Twin Oaks Lane.

While some initial donations had been made, a funding gap remained for the pre-construction work for the one-mile Skunk-to-Pimpewaug section. The Foxes made a substantial leadership donation to fund the pre-construction work and substantially reduce the timeline for trail construction. Other donors include the DePeugh and Santa Servco families, and an anonymous family.

The pre-construction work includes surveying, permitting, environmental assessments, and engineering plans required by Wilton’s Inland Wetland Commission and the state Department of Transportation.

“Norma and I enjoy the NRVT and are big believers in the trail’s contribution to the health and well-being of the Wilton community. It’s a great asset to our town.” Cliff Fox said. “We want to see the Wilton Loop completed and are delighted we can help get this next section underway.”

The Wilton Loop is planned as eight miles that run on both sides of Route 7 from Wolfpit Road to Cannondale. Work on the Twin Oaks to Skunk Lane portion of the trail took place in 2017. The work to Skunk Lane and then on to Pimpewaug has been more challenging and costly than some other portions because of needing to traverse wetlands with a boardwalk.

The donations will jump start a $460,000 fundraising campaign for construction of the 800-foot boardwalk across the extensive wetlands just north of Skunk Lane and the 300-feet of trail connecting the current ending point at Skunk Lane to the new boardwalk.

Patricia Sesto, former NRVT board president, said, “This section will be outstanding as the boardwalk takes users deep into a rich and hearty wetland. Many people will be seeing this type of environment for the first time and are going to be thrilled.”

Depending on how quickly the $460,000 can be raised, the boardwalk could be built in 2021.

People interested in donating to the trail construction may visit nrvt-trail.com.

The Norwalk River Valley Trail is conceived as a 30-mile multi-use, soft-surface trail running from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, through Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding, terminating at Rogers Park in Danbury.