Monument Road corridor receives boost from grants to extend pedestrian trails
Momentum is rolling along for trails along Grand Junction’s Monument Road.
After receiving two new grants, Mesa Land Trust is able to purchase two more properties along the route with the end goal of hopefully preserving the corridor to Colorado National Monument.
The two grants, one from Great Outdoors Colorado for $393,000 and another for $40,000 from the Gates Family Foundation, allows Mesa Land Trust to purchase an additional 63 acres. The two properties are directly northeast and southeast of the Lunch Loop trail head along Monument Road, the parcels dubbed the “Bookends.”
“We’ve had wonderful support from the community,” said Rob Bleiberg, executive director of the Mesa Land Trust. “Everybody understands what an incredible resource we have in the Lunch Loops and the Monument Road corridor.”
After the Mesa Land Trust acquired land for the Three Sisters project, five landowners approached agency officials indicating they, too, wanted to sell their land along the route. The recent grants will go toward paying for the two parcels, but the Mesa Land Trust will continue fundraising in the hopes of being able to buy land all along the corridor. A grand vision for the area includes incorporating a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly pathway to connect the Colorado Riverfront Trail to the east entrance of the Colorado National Monument.
Work on the Three Sisters project, a 130-acre parcel that was recently added onto the Bureau of Land Management’s Lunch Loops section, is helping to garner support for more land preservation in the area, said Libby Collins, project coordinator for Mesa Land Trust.
“We couldn’t make this happen without the trail-building and all the effort,” she said. “We want to make people realize that when they volunteer on the capital campaign and to build trails, that effort has a huge impact.”
To date, $653,000 has been raised for the Bookends acquisition parcels. The city of Grand Junction dedicated $150,000 and the Mike O’Brien Living Trust donated $70,000.
Collins said support for the trails system along Monument Road has snowballed with the success of Three Sisters and improvements at Lunch Loops. On a recent hike, Collins said she talked to six separate groups of trail users who said they live in Grand Junction or moved to the area because of its trails.
“We hear all the time how young professionals, families, and retired folks love living here because of fantastic trails that are right in their backyard” she said.
Skier dies at Telluride Resort
TELLURIDE — Authorities said a 60-year-old man was killed in a ski accident at Telluride.
San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said Scott Harlow of Norwood was skiing down Pick ‘N Gad on Wednesday afternoon when he left the intermediate run and struck a tree.
Ski patrollers at the resort have completed their investigation and will turn the records over to the sheriff’s department.
Masters believes Harlow was a fairly accomplished skier, but he was not wearing a helmet. There is no indication the man suffered some kind of medical problem before the crash.
Raccoon beaten to death
CASPER, Wyo. — A ranch and home supply store that sells a line of gear for pets is facing cries for a customer boycott after two teenage employees reportedly beat a raccoon to death on company property.
Jessica Johnson, a former bookkeeper for Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply in Evansville, said she learned at a Nov. 8 meeting that the employees killed a raccoon that had moved into the store’s feed barn.
Johnson said she quit her job after it became obvious nothing would be done about the animal’s death.
Local managers referred questions to the Murdoch’s corporate office.
Murdoch’s President Rick Ungersma said “we had a couple of overzealous young men do something they should not have done.”
The teenage employees quit their jobs after news of the incident spread on Facebook.
Straw poll to decide mayor
CASPER, Wyo. — Casper’s City Council will take a straw poll Tuesday to decide the city’s next mayor, a largely figurehead position.
Councilmen Paul Meyer and Daniel Sandoval are vying for the job.
Current Mayor Kenyne Schlager will announce the winners. The council will take an official vote next month.
Casper operates under a city manager and city council form of leadership. John Patterson is the current city manager.
Search continues missing man
HELENA, Mont. — Officials in Lewis and Clark County in western Montana continued their search Saturday for a Colorado man whose car has been parked at a trail head for about two weeks.
Sheriff Leo Dutton said a helicopter will be used in the search for 52-year-old Dale Brownlow, a wildlife biologist from Denver.
Authorities said Brownlow had been living at a hotel in Helena for at least a month before traveling to the Hunter’s Gulch area leading into the Helena National Forest.
Authorities said he didn’t check out of the hotel and told no one about his plans. He was last seen about two weeks ago.
Dutton said the search didn’t start until Thursday because Brownlow is known to spend extended periods of time camping in the wilderness.
4th grader started school fires
SALT LAKE CITY — An Alpine School District official said a fourth-grade student has admitted to setting two fires at a Highland elementary school on Thursday, including a fire that forced the evacuation of the school.
District spokesman John Patten said the male student at Freedom Elementary School admitted to playing with a lighter stolen from his sister and setting foam matting in the multipurpose room on fire.
Patten said the student also confessed to setting toilet paper on fire in a bathroom.
A janitor extinguished the bathroom fire quickly, but the multipurpose room fire prompted an evacuation of the school Thursday morning.
The boy was suspended and police have referred the matter to the juvenile justice system.