New trail meters allow users to donate trailside to maintain area trails
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — No, those aren’t parking meters going up at area trails — they’re trail meters, and they offer a new way to donate to maintain Yampa Valley trails.
The repurposed parking meters will now serve as trailside donation stations, where you can use your credit card to donate to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund.
The trail meters have been installed in 10 locations at close-to-town trails, including:
- The Stables, Mile Run, Blackmer and the Rotary/Ridge trailheads in the area of Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill
- At Fetcher Park, Bear River Park, Little Toots Park, Rotary Park and the Stockbridge Transit Center on the Yampa River Core Trail
- The Spring Creek trailhead
The trail meters only accept credit cards and a minimum donation of $5.
Donations to the meters support the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund held at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. The foundation aims to raise $1 million to $1.5 million for the fund by 2026 to support the maintenance of nonmotorized trails in Routt and Moffat counties. Community Foundation Community Impact Manager Helen Beall said the fund is on track to meet that goal, with just under $500,000 currently in the endowment.
Steamboat Springs resident Julie Hagenbuch approached the Yampa Valley Community Foundation with the idea of trail meters.
“I felt like this was a really important thing, because I’m a mountain biker, and they’ve started building trails that are easier, because I’m a little bit older than some of the bikers and don’t have the experience,” she said.
Stop by one of the orange parking meters on the Yampa River Core Trail, Emerald Mountain or the Spring Creek Trail. Insert your credit card, and use the buttons to make a donation of $5 or more. You can also give online at yvcf.org/trails.
If you have any issues making a donation at a trail meter, please contact Helen Beall at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hagenbuch said once these easier trails, such as the Bluffs trail on Emerald Mountain and Panorama and Fiddlehead on Buffalo Pass, opened, she was really motivated to maintain the easier, more accessible trails that allowed her to enjoy mountain biking. She started wondering why there wasn’t a way for people to donate to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund trailside.
Hagenbuch’s father-in-law told her about repurposed parking meters used to gather donations for an organization that supports people who are homeless he had seen in the Los Angeles area.
The idea was born.
“I think I told her ‘no’ close to 20 times for various reasons, mostly because we didn’t have the time to put it together,” Beall said. “Julie came back to me and told me ‘I have the time, and I’m going to make this happen.’ And she did.”
“My understanding was there just wasn’t somebody who had the time to follow it through. A lot of people would say ‘Oh what a great idea,’ but things just don’t happen by saying it’s a great idea,” Hagenbuch said.
Beall hopes the trail meters might capture the attention of visitors who enjoy area trails. A new, mobile donation station will allow volunteers working on building and maintaining trails to help collect trailside donations for the endowment.
“It’s exciting to make it easier for visitors to support our trails right there at the trailhead,” Beall said. “I think it’s going to open the doors to a lot more donations.”
Hagenbuch hopes year-round Routt County residents donate, too.
“We hope people contribute, even the locals, because they use them the most,” she said.
As of Wednesday, 15 donations had been made using the meters.
“I have not used one yet, and I’m going to make it a point to go out and make a donation today,” Hagenbuch said Thursday.
Meters were installed over the past two weeks and at no cost to the Community Foundation. The meters themselves were donated by the IPS Group. Materials and labor to install the concrete and polls supporting the meters was donated by Calcon Constructors.
“The community made this happen,” Beall said. “We don’t have staff capacity to do a project like this, and without the community, this would not have happened.”
And, in instigating the installation of the trail meters, Hagenbuch found another way to work for the trails she loves.
“One of the reasons I really wanted to do this project is because I didn’t believe I was physically able to help with the trail work, but yet I am able to use the trails and enjoy them,” she said. “We all need to do our part, and this is the part that suited me.”
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