Headwaters Trails Alliance gets additional funding from Fraser, Winter Park | SkyHiNews.com

Headwaters Trails Alliance gets additional funding from Fraser, Winter Park

Fraser and Winter Park are now aligned on their contributions to the Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA).

The Fraser Board of Trustees passed two resolutions at their Dec. 7 meeting that benefit the HTA. The approved funding will be used for the Smart-Sizing Trail Project for the summer of 2017. The project is a collaboration between the HTA and the US Forrest Service to improve trails in the Fraser Valley.

The HTA has received an additional $30,000 for 2016 and $30,000 for 2017 from both the towns of Winter Park and Fraser. The US Forrest Service (USFS) also committed $30,000 for the 2016 field season.

The Smart-Sizing Trail Project has an estimated cost of $750,000. It will take about five years to complete.

“We will still need participation from the County and other sources, including private donations, but this helps greatly,” McQuain said. “It speaks volumes that both towns feel this is important to the economy and our community. We have many miles of trails, but not always the greatest maintenance or specific departments to maintain them. We are thrilled to have both of the town’s participation and partnership.”Meara McQuain

The project is broken into five different trail groups, or pods, as the HTA has defined. For the upcoming summer, improvements will be taking place in the Leland Creek trail system in Winter Park and the St. Louis Creek trail system in Fraser.

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HTA Executive Director Meara McQuain said the HTA is going to "double-down" this year because the Environmental Assessment that was conducted took longer than anticipated. The HTA will be doing two years worth of projects in just one summer.

The HTA estimates that each pod will cost between $150,000-$175,000

The Smart-Sizing Trail Project will focus on connectivity between trail systems; sustainability of trails—aiming to make the trails less to maintain overall; and diversification of trails by adding rock features and wood ramps to bike trails for a more challenging ride.

The project also focuses on protecting watershed. The HTA will be adding bridges over stream crossings and sensitive habitats. McQuain said that each pod is specific to the area it is in, but the project has six main goals:

New trail construction to link isolated trail systems and improve safety by creating parallel routes along roads to keep trail users off of roads

Trail reroutes to decrease overall environmental impact of the trail system and to temper recreational desires with the need for healthy watersheds, flora and fauna

Trail width reductions for better recreational experiences for trail users and to decrease overall impact

Construction of bridges to lessen impact in riparian zones and streams

Enhancing trailheads to provide more information and parking to trail users

Close and decommission trails that are not designated as system trails to both reduce management issues and to improve ecological functionality

Another resolution passed by the Fraser board on Dec. 7 was to execute funding for the winter grooming of the Fraser River Trail. Both Winter Park and Fraser have taken on the funding to groom the Fraser River Trail from Winter Park Resort to Safeway in Fraser. The HTA used to pay for the grooming service in previous years, but now both towns have fully taken on the expense. The HTA still manages the Fraser River Trail, but no longer has to fund the grooming themselves. The HTA still grooms, on a volunteer basis, from the Fraser Valley Sports Complex to Granby.

Both Fraser and Winter Park are also helping to subsidize costs for the salary of a Field Staff position for the HTA.

"We will still need participation from the County and other sources, including private donations, but this helps greatly," McQuain said. "It speaks volumes that both towns feel this is important to the economy and our community. We have many miles of trails, but not always the greatest maintenance or specific departments to maintain them. We are thrilled to have both of the town's participation and partnership."

HTA's funding request points out how vital trails and outdoor recreation, as a whole, are to the economy: "Outdoor recreation creates $1.4 billion in federal, state, and local tax dollars in northwestern Colorado. As gateway communities, Winter Park and Fraser are reliant upon these tax dollars to function as towns. As more and more Colorado towns turn to outdoor recreation as economic drivers, these tax dollars will be dispersed across the region. Towns such as Winter Park and Fraser that have existing trails must improve and diversify their trail systems in order to compete with neighboring communities for financial resources."

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