Monument Road Vision
Project aims to protect local outdoor corridor
When Teddy Roosevelt wrote, “The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel,” he must have been thinking about Monument Road.
Our neighbors at the Mesa Land Trust seem to have taken Teddy’s remarks to heart. The land trust is a private, nonprofit land-conservation organization based here in Mesa County. One of its latest ventures is to protect open landscapes along Monument Road leading to the east entrance of Colorado National Monument.
Mesa Land Trust says it works to “maintain the unique character, agriculture and history of Mesa County through partnerships with voluntary landowners, local governments, Mesa County, The Nature Conservancy and a variety of outside funding agencies.”
The land trust now holds more than 200 conservation easements and has conserved more than 64,000 acres of land containing important orchards, vineyards, cropland, large working ranches, and habitat for wildlife.
The trust was founded in 1980 by a small group of dedicated farmers concerned about increasing development pressures on the Western Slope. Since then, it has grown to support six full-time staff members, and it works to conserve a variety of properties all over Mesa County.
According to Libby Collins of Mesa Land Trust, “Following our work on the Three Sisters Project, we discovered tremendous support for protecting lands and expanding trails along the Monument Road corridor from town to South Camp Road.”
The Three Sisters are those three large mounds of earth on the south side of Monument Road as you approach the Bureau of Land Management’s Lunch Loop and Tabeguache Trail trail head. Over the past three years, the Land Trust completed the purchase of that 130-acre property, helped build trails and deeded the property to the city of Grand Junction. The city then entered into an agreement with the BLM to manage the area.
Mesa Land Trust will preserve another 63 acres along Monument Road as soon as it completes purchase of “the Bookends properties” — 13 acres that abut the Three Sisters on the city side and 50 acres that lay adjacent to the Lunch Loop parking lot and Lunch Loop trails. The group has raised $723,000 of the $825,000 needed for this purchase and development of public trails.
“We will need the communities’ help to raise the remaining amount,” Collins said.
If you’re interested in helping, show up at Pablo’s Pizza downtown at 6 p.m. March 6 for a kickoff fundraiser, or go to http://www.mesalandtrust.org.
As the Bookends project is complete, Collins said negotiations will continue and/or begin with other landowners along Monument Road up to South Camp Road.
“Protection of land, preservation of views, and outdoor recreation all serve to attract more visitors to our hotels, shops and restaurants,” said Lon Carpenter, board chairman of the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau. “The Monument Road corridor is critical to visitation to the Colorado National Monument and to the Lunch Loop area. Fabulous scenery attracts people from all over to ride road bikes or drive into the monument. The rugged and undeveloped lands surrounding the Lunch Loop area attract a wide variety of users to the area, not just mountain bikers.”
Jodi Niernberg, Downtown Development Authority chairwoman and co-owner of Bin 707 Foodbar, agrees.
“As a downtown business owner and resident of the Monument Road area, I believe in the value of preserving the beautiful scenery along Monument Road and building a bike path that connects our amazing downtown to the incredible recreation opportunities along Monument Road,” she said. “Beautiful landscapes, hiking and biking in urban open space attract more and more visitors and locals to our downtown area. We should all be promoting scenery and open space.”
Through a public process of gathering information on this Monument Vision, Collins said four initiatives surfaced: to acquire more land for public open space; preserve views and landscapes; connect bike paths, trails and the Riverfront Trail system; and build more trails for biking, hiking and walking.
The Mesa County Health Department has identified the “built environment” as one of five priority areas to improve community health. It is collaborating with Mesa Land Trust and other trail-based organizations to create safe and accessible opportunities to get people, especially kids, out of cars and away from video screens to exercise and enjoy fresh air and nature.
The Monument Vision fits that bill. But let’s face it, for politicians around here to support this project, it must include jobs, jobs, jobs.
The Visitor and Convention Bureau believes this vision provides jobs. The Downtown Development authority agrees.
So does Ben Johnson, president of Colorado Components, who said, “I could move my company anywhere in the country, but the beautiful scenery, great mountain biking right out my back door, and other outdoor opportunities are why my wife and I decided to raise our family here.”
Me too, Ben. Me, too.