County funds $72K in trails projects |

County funds $72K in trails projects

Travis Caffee, a mule packer for the National Park Service, helps cut roots from the ground to remove the tree stump along the East Shore Trail Path. The East Shore Trail improvements was one of the four trails projects funded by the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails fund in spring 2017.
McKenna Harford /

Several miles of trails in Grand County will be getting a facelift this summer, thanks to the spring grant award cycle of the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails fund.

The Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Advisory Committee received six applications for the spring grant cycle, including four trails applications, one river application and one open lands application. Ultimately, the Grand County Board of commissioners approved $72,734 for four trails projects, but rejected one application and granted an extension to another.

Of the approved projects, the largest grant was $36,084 for the Headwaters Trails Alliance’s Burnout Loop Trail maintenance project, which includes heavy trail maintenance, regrading and rerouting the trail.

“So one side of the trail is currently a road and we’ll do a road to trail conversion on that side,” said Meara McQuain, executive director for the Headwaters Trails Alliance. “The other part of the trail is really trenched so we’ll reroute that section. It’s going to feel and look very different.”

A section of the proposed Indian Peaks Traverse, a 66-mile trail connecting Boulder and Winter Park, received $3,325 to maintain and improve the Broken Thumb Trail portion of the traverse in Winter Park that connects Rollins Pass with the Idlewild Trail System.

Another trail maintenance project will involve the Headwaters Trails Alliance partnering with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy and the Forest Service to improve a section of Buffalo Creek Trail, located in Granby.

The county approved $18,875 for the Buffalo Creek project, citing the obvious need for maintenance, the lack of funds previously spent in the area and the likely improvement of connections to other trails.  

A section of the proposed Indian Peaks Traverse, a 66-mile trail connecting Boulder and Winter Park, received $3,325 to maintain and improve the Broken Thumb Trail portion of the traverse in Winter Park that connects Rollins Pass with the Idlewild Trail System.

The Headwaters Trails Alliance in conjunction with the Indian Peaks Traverse coalition will construct a large turnpike to make the trail safer and better for the environment.

The fourth trail project the county funded is a bridge repair and replacement, as well as the construction of a new bridge, on the Strawberry Creek and West Strawberry Trails in Tabernash because of safety and environmental concerns. The Headwaters Trails Alliance received $14,450 for the project.

McQuain said the projects that were funded in this cycle had been prioritized for maintenance and improvements during last year’s planning process.

“These projects were all identified due to either resource damage, environmental degradation, or public safety hazards,” she said. “Also, it’s depending on usage.”

She added that the Headwaters Trails Alliance plans to begin the work for the projects around mid-June.

The singular applicant for open lands projects, the Grand Huts Association, which applied for $18,000 for the first phase of construction on the Schowalter Hut in Tabernash, was granted an extension because the applicant did not qualify for the funds based on the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails bylaws.

McQuain explained that the primary applicant for open lands funds must be able to acquire and hold an easement and, while the Grand Huts Association is a nonprofit, they aren’t a land conservation organization and can’t hold an easement.

The plan is to partner with either Colorado Parks and Wildlife or the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust and resubmit the application before the May 23 deadline to hopefully receive funding in time for summer, McQuain said.

“It’s a fairly complicated application, which is why it’s broken down into four phases, but the ultimate goal is to build a hut, like the Broom Hut, on Berthoud Pass, but over in the Hamilton Creek drainage that will help create a hut-to-hut trail system,” she said.

Finally, the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Advisory Committee rejected a $37,000 application from the town of Grand Lake to conduct a Nine Elements Restoration Plan on the Lower North Fork Colorado River, which would identify pollutants and outline steps to address pollution.

However, the committee felt the project was not within the scope of the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails fund, which states the criteria for water projects is to “keep water in the Colorado River and other rivers for agriculture, ranching and outdoor recreation.”

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