More than $14K awarded to improve trails in Routt, Moffat counties
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Area trails will see improvements from more than $14,000 worth of grants awarded by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund.
Three local land managers received funding, including the U.S. Forest Service, the city of Steamboat Springs and — for the first time — Moffat County, according to a news release from the Community Foundation.
This marks the endowment fund’s largest grant contribution since its inception four years ago, according to Helen Beall, community impact manager with the Community Foundation. The annual allotment is a way to support nonmotorized trail maintenance projects on public lands in Routt and Moffat counties.
Three trails managed by the city’s Parks, Open Space and Trails Department will be enhanced through the funding. An $800 grant will go toward resurfacing the dirt path that parallels a portion of the Yampa River Core Trail near Rich Weiss Park. This 7.5-mile trail meanders along the Yampa River and is Steamboat’s most popular trail, according to the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.
The Prayer Flag Trail on Emerald Mountain and the Spring Creek Loop Trail each received $810 in grant funding, which will pay for excavation work. The Prayer Flag Trail was built on unstable ground and has become impassable due to erosion, according to the Community Foundation.
Jenny Carey, Open Space and Trails supervisor, said the trail is in desperate need of a reroute, which the funding will provide.
“It’s a pretty terrible trail right now. It’s not fun to hike or ride,” Carey said.
Excavation work on the Spring Creek Loop Trail will extend a popular route that was shortened this summer due to the Spring Creek dam project. The work will create a “lollipop loop,” according to Carey, which aims to improve the trail experience for users.
The Forest Service received a $10,000 grant to hire a full-time, seasonal trail maintenance employee for the spring and summer. The employee will help clear trails of debris, such as fallen trees, and do repairs from erosion or other damage.
Brendan Kelly, a recreational staff member with the Forest Service, said a crew of about three full-time employees usually is responsible for maintaining more than 450 miles of trails in the local district. In the spring, they typically focus on clearing trails, then focus on more intensive projects later in the summer, such as fixing broken bridges and ensuring trails have proper drainage.
Each year, Congress allots money to each Forest Service district, Kelly said, but funding usually is tight to hire such trail crews.
“Our capacity is limited, so it’s really helpful to get that full-time crew member (through the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund),” he said.
Kelly expects Congress to approve enough funding to hire an additional two to three trail maintenance employees.
He added that not having a trail maintenance crew would severely limit local recreation opportunities and make hiking, biking and other activities less enjoyable as the trails degrade.
“Some trails would not be useable anymore,” he said.
Moffat County’s grant funding, a total of $1,814, will go toward replacing a bridge on the Kiwanis Trail at Loudy-Simpson Park. Mainly used for hiking and running, a portion of the trail floods during periods of high water, according to Beall. The bridge will help with accessibility during flooding and make it easier for people with wheelchairs and strollers to use.
The Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund continues to grow each year, Beall said, mostly due to private donations. As the fund grows, so too does its annual grant allotments. The endowment’s goal is to raise $1 million to $1.5 million by 2026, which would provide about $60,000 for trail maintenance projects each year.
Beall encouraged people to consider a donation to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund. She pointed to the upcoming Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, Dec. 10, as an opportune time to support the local endowment. To donate online, visit yvcf.org/trails.
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