Mesa County commissioners awarded a $678,639 contract Monday to a local company to begin work on the highly anticipated 33-mile downhill Palisade Plunge singletrack trail.

While most of the money for the first phase of the project is from a $527,000 grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife awarded last year, the county is kicking in $85,000 toward it, some of which the county was already expecting to spend on various road improvements that will tie in with the trail, the Sentinel's Charles Ashby reported Tuesday.

Kudos to commissioners for their support of the project. While the trail will be open to hikers and equestrians, it's expected to be a big draw for mountain bikers. Commissioners are doing their part to help the valley's outdoor recreation economy evolve. But they're one entity among many.

The town of Palisade, city of Grand Junction, Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, the BLM, Forest Service, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, COPMOBA and private donors are all partners in this project.

"This will serve as a marquee project, an attraction to our region that will be visible worldwide," Scott Winans, president of the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Association, told commissioners. "There are a number of trails like this around the world, but it's very small. To have it a 6,000-foot descent and end adjacent to a municipality is not a common entity for a mountain bike trail."

Construction on the first phase of the project is supposed to start later this month. We've been imagining this project for so long that it's exciting to finally have something to show for all the work it's taken to get to this point.

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