Expanding 18 Road bike system on hold, not forgotten

Efforts to improve the trails and facilities at the 18 Road bike systems north of Fruita haven’t wavered despite recent obstacles that have put things on hold.

Ture Nycum, parks and recreation director for the city of Fruita, confirmed that Colorado Parks and Wildlife rejected a $63,000 grant request that would have funded a study by the city to look at expanding the popular mountain-bike trail system.

Nycum said his office plans to submit another grant application request at the end of October. That application will include more details into the positive economic impact a trail-system expansion could bring to the area.

“We thought we had it taken care of, but … it’s obviously something we need to work on,” Nycum said. “(CPW) felt we needed to elaborate more.”

The trail system, which is on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, includes nearly a dozen trails of varying difficulties. The area draws an estimated 77,000 annual visitors, according to the BLM.

The pending request is contingent on CPW’s requirement that grant requests match at least 30 percent of the requested funds. Nycum said $18,000 is ready for when the grant application is submitted.

Fruita’s request also parallels efforts of the BLM to improve facilities in the trail system’s infrastructure, with those funds coming through a Federal Lands Access Program grant.

Pete Baier, Mesa County’s assistant county administrator for operations, said last November that the county’s application for a federal grant to improve infrastructure was approved contingent on a site tour that would determine if federal money for the improvements would be disbursed.

But Chris Pipkin, the BLM’s outdoor recreation planner, said the project has stayed on hold since no BLM official has been contacted regarding a site tour or funding of the grant.

The project, separate from Fruita’s efforts to expand the trail system, would focus on paving 18 Road below the system’s trail head and creating more established campgrounds to generate possible revenue for the BLM.

Plans also include the construction of a staging area, which would serve as a central meeting point for events held in the 18 Road area.

Pipkin added the delay has prompted conversations of incrementally adding some of the items in the BLM’s infrastructure plan instead of waiting for a lump-sum amount of federal funding to cover all costs.

“We have talked recently at the BLM that regardless of how things for funding play out, we’d still like to keep moving toward our goal,” Pipkin said. “We don’t have a definite plan or a timeline, but we would like to do everything we can to get the ball rolling on this.”


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