Division of Wildlife drops lawsuit against Granby Ranch | SkyHiNews.com

Division of Wildlife drops lawsuit against Granby Ranch

Reid ArmstrongSky-Hi NewsGrand County, CO Colorado

GRANBY – The Division of Wildlife has dropped its lawsuit against Granby Ranch over a portion of trail that DOW claimed came too close to nesting areas for prairie falcons. The section of trail that runs from the pond near the Inn at Silver Creek up to the gazebo trail at the crest of Ten Mile Drive reopened to the public several weeks ago. Headwater Trail Alliance (HTA), a nonprofit group, constructed the mile-long section of trail across Granby Ranch property as part of its master plan to link Fraser to Granby with a trail system.The trail cut through a conservation easement that Granby Ranch had negotiated with the DOW. HTA and Granby Ranch claimed to have flagged the trail and obtained all the necessary approvals for the trail from the DOW, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local authorities before construction began. DOW filed its suit against Granby Ranch on Oct. 19, 2009, nearly a year after trail construction was complete. It was the DOW’s contention that the trail was constructed “without authorization as required by the conservation easement,” DOW spokesperson Randy Hampton said in an interview last November. Of particular concern to the DOW was that the trail came within a quarter mile of the nesting site at its closest point. While the prairie falcon is not on the endangered species list, the DOW estimates that there are fewer than 200 nesting sites in the state. Since that time, Hampton said in a phone conversation Tuesday, the DOW, the Department of Natural Resource and interested parties in Granby have sat down at the table together and determined that it wasn’t in anybody’s best interest to proceed in a legal environment.”It was determined that we would be able to work through issues more cooperatively outside of courtroom,” Hampton said. “We are not aware of what the DOW’s reasons were for dropping the lawsuit, but we are very pleased that it has been dropped,” said Kyle Harris, Director of Development for Granby Ranch “It will reopen a trail amenity that is a very positive thing for the residents of Grand County.”With the lawsuit off the table, HTA is now turning its focus to completing the final section of trail into downtown Granby. “We feel comfortable now continuing the trail onward,” said HTA’s new executive director Maura McKnight. “We are trying to complete that by the end of summer.”The goal is to create a half-mile section of trail that leads from the parking lot at the trail’s current end to the stoplight at City Market, McKnight said. HTA is still debating the best route for that section of trail and seeking the necessary financing, permits and permissions to complete it. McKnight said the question is whether it’s better to create a bike lane along Village Road to link the existing section of trail with a future section that would cut over to the stoplight or to build a bridge over Ten Mile Creek, which has the advantage of keeping that portion of the trail off paved roads but would cost some $100,000 to build and would create a disturbance across the wetlands, McKnight said.From the stoplight, McKnight is hoping to link up with town via existing subdivision roads and trails on the west side of U.S. Highway 40. The route would lead down into Kaibab Park and from there could connect to town via the railroad crossing. HTA is also waiting on word from Sen. Mark Udall regarding an appropriation for a NEPA study needed to complete the East Shore Trail in Grand Lake. This section of trail is a key element in connecting Grand Lake to Granby via a trail system. In preparation for the NEPA study, HTA plans to delineate and flag the trail this spring. With hopes that the study will be funded and completed in time, McKight said HTA would potentially be able to start building that section of trail next summer. – Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or rarmstrong@skyhidailynews.com.

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