Sign of the times: markers aid river trail hikers

Marc Mancuso with the City of Grand Junction’s Park and Recreation Department sets one of the 90 or so emergency markers on Riverfront Trail near the Botanic Gardens.

As use of the Colorado Riverfront Trail has increased, so have the incidents where someone needs assistance from emergency responders.

Whether it’s a medical emergency or simply someone who needs a little direction after getting confused along the curves and drops of the sinuous riparian trail, the response to queries for assistance now will be much easier with the installation of special emergency markers every quarter-mile along the trail.

The markers are royal-blue-on-green carsonite posts, each emblazoned with “Emergency Medical Marker” and showing the section of trail and the north-south cross street location.

“There have been incidents where people needing assistance had trouble pinpointing their location,” said Monica Million, manager of the city of Grand Junction’s Regional Communications Center. “These new signs will significantly reduce our response time.”

Million added that not only is each of the distinctively eye-catching posts marked on city and county maps, the maps also show the most-direct access to that section of trail.

Partners in the cooperative endeavor include Mesa County, the cities of Grand Junction and Fruita, the town of Palisade and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Greg Linza, Mesa County’s parks and landscapes manager, said 90 of the signs eventually will be installed once the entire trail is finished from east of Corn Lake to Fruita.

“Right now, we’ve got 75 percent of the signs installed,” Linza said. “Each partner agency will install and maintain the signs on their particular sections of trail.”

Linza said the idea for some sort of trail markers initially arose about 10 years ago but was put on hold during the trail’s early construction.

“We tried some early test signs on the Audubon and the Blue Heron sections but they weren’t actually emergency markers,” Linza said. “But now, with the increased use of the trail we’ve been seeing, we realize how important something like this is and we’re pursuing it full time.”

Katie Steele, co-chair of the Colorado Riverfront Commission, said use of the trail has increased multi-fold as more sections open and the sections are connected.

“I can see part of the new Monument View Trail from my house and I see people using the trail every day,” she said.

Steele noted that the signs also will be useful in non-emergency situations, such as keeping track of your mileage hiked or biked and finding friends already on the trail.

The Riverfront Trail now connects from 33 1/2 Road to the Walter Walker State Wildlife Area at approximately 22 Road. The final phases of the trail, from 22 Road to 18 1/2 Road and then on to Fruita, are in the preliminary stage.


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