Trailblazers start putting their mark on 3 Sisters Park
Volunteers followed the pink flag loop Saturday, raking the dusty ground to create the first trail at Three Sisters Park, a 130-acre property adjacent to the popular Lunch Loop trail system.
“This is the culmination of a dream I didn’t think would happen,” said Mesa Land Trust board member Bill Prakken, recalling when the area was slated to be a residential development. “Two years ago, if you had asked me if this would happen, I would have said, ‘No.’ “
The $1.63 million recreational area is a partnership between the city of Grand Junction, Mesa Land Trust and Bureau of Land Management. Since its purchase in June, a number of public stakeholder meetings have been held to get feedback about the future of the preserved public land.
Everything will proceed in a slow and measured way, with the idea to create a space that has beginner, gentle and family-friendly trails, Prakken said. This will complement the more advanced trails next door at Tabeguache.
After the Mesa Land Trust purchased the property, the nonprofit group placed a conservation easement on it that secured it as public open space forever and deeded it to the city.
The three-quarter-mile loop and park signage is the first phase of development. The next trails, currently in design, are expected to be under construction in the spring.
Chris Muhr, Mesa Land Trust and Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association board member, taught the roughly 25 volunteers how to construct the path.
Starting with a crew at about 9:15 a.m., he was scraping away on the return portion in the afternoon sun.
Having been involved since the land was acquired, he explained a bit of the trail-building procedure, noting a world-renowned paleontologist made sure there were no dinosaur bones and an experienced archeologist also scoured the area.
In fact, prior to all trail construction, archeological and paleontological studies will be done, Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber told the City Council last week when he updated councilors about the project. The Land Trust will oversee it and all improvements must be approved by the city, he said.
The first section was nearly finished Saturday, but riders and hikers are advised to stay off of it until next spring, Muhr said. Being a bit of a sand trap, it needs moisture to pack in, he explained.
Before the ground raking, COPMOBA hosted a “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” along Kids Meal, the trail that connects from the Lunch Loop.
Ashton Call, 9, his brother Aidan Call, 8, and a new friend they met on-site, Jaleb Monroe, 9, were out helping after the ride.
Ashton said he was there because “to build a trail, that’s something else you get to ride and you get to help your hometown.”