NW Colorado trail maintenance fund not getting much support from small donors
Promoters of a trail maintenance endowment fund in Northwest Colorado are trying to figure out how to get more cyclists, horseback riders and hikers to pitch in and help keep their beloved trails open and free of ruts.
Yampa Valley Community Foundation Marketing Manager Helen Beall said the fund, which was launched last year to help keep area trails in tip-top shape, is lacking grassroots level support.
“What’s missing is the small donor,” Beall said. “I only have about 20 donors this year who gave less than $100.”
“It shouldn’t be that hard of a sell,” Beall added. “If you can afford a bike or running shoes or a horse, you can afford a donation to the fund.”
Beall said the fund is not currently on track to meet an annual fundraising goal.
The fund currently holds about $131,238 in donations.
“We need to end the year over $200,000,” Beall said. “The community buy-in is not what it needs to be to be honest.”
Beall said even if trail users donated $1 per month, it could make a difference. Donors can pitch in online or use Venmo to make payments.
Small donors might not be pitching in, but the fund is getting support from local businesses.
Beall said local bike shops are donating thousands of dollars worth of proceeds from their bike rentals and trail map sales to the fund.
Other businesses are donating proceeds from T-shirt and beer sales.
Founders of the endowment fund are ultimately hoping to raise between $1 million and $1.5 million in the next eight years. If that goal is reached, the earnings from the fund could be used to pay for at least $60,000 of trail maintenance each year.
Beall said that amount would cover existing maintenance needs as well as cover the maintenance of several miles of new trails that are going to be built in Northwest Colorado in the coming years.
The endowment fund’s success could also help to prevent local land managers such as the U.S. Forest Service from imposing any additional user fees to cover the cost of trail maintenance.
The Forest Service and the city of Steamboat Springs recently partnered on a fundraiser for the endowment fund.
The organizations held a trail-naming contest for a new trail on Buffalo Pass. Residents who voted for their favorite trail name online had to donate a minimum of $10 to the endowment fund.
The naming contest generated 25 online votes, and a total gift of $2,684.
Donations ranged in size from $10 to $1,000.
Beall considered the turnout to be low.
The winning name will be announced Friday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new trail.
Money from the new endowment fund is already starting to benefit local trail projects.
This month, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crews completed work on the Fish Creek Falls Trail that will help prevent erosion. The work involved maintaining a retaining wall and stabilizing part of the trail.
Work was made possible by a $2,303 grant from the endowment fund.
Who decides how to spend the endowment fund money each year?
Applications for endowment fund grants are submitted in September.
A seven-member board, which consists of local land managers, two community members and a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association representative, evaluate the requests and choose a winning project.
The endowment fund is held by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and supports non-motorized trail maintenance projects in Routt and Moffat counties.
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