Citizens, organizers discuss Grand County Master Trails Plan | SkyHiNews.com

Citizens, organizers discuss Grand County Master Trails Plan

Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

Citizens, stakeholders and local officials came out to offer their input on the Headwaters Trails Alliance's Master Trails Plan in Winter Park on Tuesday, April 21.

The meeting focused on the plan's first subarea, which encompasses the southeastern portion of Grand County including the Fraser Valley.

The original Master Trails Plan was developed in 1995, with the goal of establishing the Fraser to Granby Trail. The Headwaters Trails Alliance was formed at the same time to meet that goal.

The plan has been revised multiple times since then, and in January 2015, HTA started its search for a consultant to help complete a comprehensive Master Trails Plan that would encompass all of the trails in Grand County, eventually hiring Scott Linnenburger with Kay-Linn Enterprises.

“Outside of just the trails and our recreation, there’s requirements for all of the agencies to manage for natural resource protection, for wildlife protection, for water quality protection, for natural ecological functionality. Frankly, those kind of protections almost always come before recreation. That’s just the way it is.”Scott LinnenburgerMaster Trails Plan consultant

The project has since been divided into three subareas, with the first one being the subject of the April 21 meetings.

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"This area in particular is really complex in terms of how it's managed and management needs and the number of different entities that are involved," Linnenburger said during a presentation at the meeting. "That makes a situation like developing a master plan that's going to cross all of these boundaries a really complicated thing, but not one that we're afraid of."

In developing the plan, Linnenburger and HTA are working with a number of interests and management entities with different priorities.

That can place some constraints on the establishment of new trails, Linnenburger said.

"Outside of just the trails and our recreation, there's requirements for all of the agencies to manage for natural resource protection, for wildlife protection, for water quality protection, for natural ecological functionality," he said. "Frankly, those kind of protections almost always come before recreation. That's just the way it is."

Consequentially, the establishment of a trails plan must balance between recreation interests and management interests.

If a trail interferes with one of these protections, it could mean moving the trail or excluding it entirely from the plan.

Even within the recreation community, there are competing interests.

Fraser Trustee Katie Soles called the plan "a fabulous effort for the county," but added that some uses just aren't compatible on certain trails.

"Horses think bikes are predators and most people really have no idea, so education is a huge challenge," Soles said.

She also added that some areas should be excluded from recreational traffic on the basis of their pristine nature, much like designated wilderness.

Linnenburger added that the primary challenge in developing and implementing the plan is overcoming funding shortages

"I think in terms of long term moving ahead, that's the biggest constraint that's out there," he said.

Organizations will have to work more cohesively and efficiently, though it's not a panacea for underfunding, Linnenburger said.

HTA will hold two more public meetings to discuss the subarea one plan at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on June 23 at the Fraser Outdoor Activity Center.

HTA hopes to have the subarea plan completed by the end of June.

For more information about HTA or to donate, visit http://headwaterstrails.org.

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