Fruita wins grant to connect trail to Kokopelli

Fruita can now stop wishing they could connect a trail to the Kokopelli trail head.

Thanks to a $2 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, Fruita can get to work on making the trail a reality.

“This trail impacts so many pieces of our overall goals to positively influence quality of place, economic health and lifestyle,” Fruita City Manager Mike Bennett said. “The trail will serve residents, tourists and businesses alike connecting Fruita to the Kokopelli Trailhead with a 10-foot-wide paved trail and single track along it.”

The trail will wind past a 32-acre lake and Fruita’s industrial park, which should attract more business to the area, Bennett said.

In August, Fruita was awarded a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to complete the 4.5-mile trail. Fruita officials are awaiting word on whether it will receive a $1.2 million Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP, grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation, Bennett said.

The segment is expected to cost more than $3.5 million and construction should start next year. The city has contributed $180,000 in matching dollars for the grants, Bennett said.

The trail will extend from the Little Salt Wash trail to the community of Loma and the nearby Kokopelli trail network. The area in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is popular with mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and equestrian riders. There is a nearby boat launch for boaters and rafters to access the Colorado River.

The GOCO grant is the first round of funding for the agency’s Connect Initiative, which focuses on connecting existing trail gaps. Communities or agencies can apply for up to $2 million in funds for a total grant cycle that offers $10 million a year in grants for three years for projects across the state.

Two trails in the Grand Valley, the Colorado Riverfront Trail and the Palisade Plunge, have been identified as priorities by the state to receive funds to make trail connections.

After completion of the Kokopelli section of the trail, the Colorado Riverfront Trail has two remaining connections for the trail to span the entire Grand Valley.

Heading east, the trail ends at Las Colonias Park and picks up again at 29 Road extending to 33 1/2 Road. A connection is needed at 33 1/2 Road to Palisade, where the trail runs through Riverbend Park.  To date, the trail extends 29.75 miles.

Work on the trail started in 1995 and construction of the trail was prompted by a GOCO Legacy Grant, GOCO officials said.


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