GOCO doles out funds to improve trails

From the Palisade Plunge to the Kokopelli Trail west of Fruita, several projects in the region will share in nearly $2.5 million in grants from Great Outdoors Colorado.

To help Palisade create an iconic downhill mountain biking trail as part of its economic development to attract recreational tourism, GOCO awarded the town $90,000 to build the trail from the top of Grand Mesa to the valley floor.

The money, part of a multi-jurisdictional project, is to be used for planning funds for trail design, engineering and master planning.

“The Palisade Plunge will be a world-class destination single-track mountain bike trail, open to other non-motorized uses such as hiking and equestrian,” said Richard Sales, town administrator. “The proposed route descends from a peak elevation of approximately 10,700 feet to a final elevation of about 4,700 feet, providing 6,500 feet of vertical relief and connection of alpine elevation trail networks to the valley floor, finishing in the town of Palisade.”

Meanwhile, farther west, Fruita is to receive $2 million to complete one of three remaining sections of a 25-year project to build the Colorado Riverfront Trail all the way to Palisade.

This section of the trail is to extend from the Fruita visitors center 4.5 miles to just west of Loma, connecting with the Kokopelli Trails area in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

The Kokopelli Trail is a destination for mountain bikers, hikers, equestrian users and trail runners, which ultimately connects to Moab, Utah.

Other GOCO grants awarded this week include:

■ Three grants to the Mesa Land Trust for open space projects: $308,500 to expand conservation work on the Johnson Ranch on Glade Park; $47,600 for a 176-acre conservation easement on the Menoken Farm in Montrose County; and $39,000 for a 377-acre conservation easement on the McLeod Ranch on the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

■ A $17,550 grant to Grand Junction, Ducks Unlimited and the Tamarisk Coalition as part of a project to conserve 25 acres of habitat along the Colorado River at Las Colonias Park.

■ A $100,000 grant to Delta County to develop its first trails master plan to help deal with future construction. The long-range plan is to coordinate with towns and other municipalities in the county to establish a plan to connect them with bike, pedestrian and equestrian access.

■ Colorado Open Lands is to receive $31,468 for help with obtaining a conservation easement on a 165-acre ranch east of Craig in Moffat County.

■ Glenwood Springs is to get a $75,000 grant as part of its Lower Valley Trail project, which is to connect paved trails in Garfield County with soft trails in South Canyon that ultimately will extend from Mesa to Eagle counties.

■ Montrose is to receive $13,800 to remove Russian olive, tamarisk, thistle and white top invasive species and replace them with native grasses on land surrounding the nine miles of new trails around Cerise Park in downtown Montrose.

■ Eagle is to get $2 million as part of a trail system connecting the Eagle River Valley to Glenwood Canyon, Summit County and the Rio Grande Trail in Garfield and Pitkin counties. This money is to complete the final 17 miles of that project.


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