Support for Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund goes further with Meter Match challenge
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The trails in Steamboat Springs are endless, gorgeous, multi-purpose and of course, free to use. However, the care and creation of those trails are not free.
In 2016, the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund was created with a 10-year goal to raise $1,000,000, creating a permanent fund to care for non-motorized trails in Moffat and Routt counties. Each summer, there has been a matching program to help boost the fundraising effort, but people can donate year round to the fund, which is managed by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. For the summer of 2020, every donation to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund will automatically double.
A pair of local funds will contribute to the “Meter Match” challenge, which will match up to $15,000 raised to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund. The Marc Sehler Memorial Fund will provide $10,000 while the Jeff and Alisa Merage Family Fund will contribute $5,000 to the challenge.
“We weren’t even going to do the match this summer, but looking at how many people were using the trails, we thought that if we didn’t do the match, we’d be missing an opportunity,” said Helen Beall, the community impact manager at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. “It gives people the opportunity to support something that they’re using and love in a real, meaningful way that’s lasting.”
Donations can be made online at yvcf.org/trails or at donation stations, which are bright orange parking meters situated in popular spots in Steamboat Springs. Meters can be found along the Yampa River Core Trail and at the Blackmer, Spring Creek and Howelsen stables trailheads.
The fund has a balance of $606,686 as of Wednesday. Since the challenge began July 1, more than $3,000 has come into the fund, completing just over 20% of the fund’s goal for the summer. In 2019, the meters brought in about $5,000, so the goal of $15,000 this summer is pretty ambitious.
Local trails and public lands need more attention now than ever, as the pandemic and mass closures and social distancing has prompted people to spend more time outdoors and using trails. At the same time, COVID-19 has halted major fundraisers for groups that typically provide trail maintenance. Routt County Riders has been able to host trail work days with social distancing in place, but Friends of the Wilderness has not been given the green light to work on National Forest lands.
“The pandemic has created a perfect storm for trail maintenance,” said Routt County Riders Executive Director Laraine Martin in a news release. “We are unable to host in-person fundraisers, our volunteer trail work days are somewhat limited, and the trails are getting far more use than usual. Visitors and locals are starved for ways to get out of the house and enjoy nature in a safe and distanced way — this is evident in the uptick in pressure on our riding areas.”
Donations and grant funding helped employ an additional United States Forest Service staff for summer 2020 to work on trail maintenance. The fund has also contributed to the rerouting of the trail around the pond at Spring Creek.
“Like most nonprofits, we’re not able to do our summer events or have boots on the ground, so this is really important for that reason,” said Beall. “Look at all the people using the trails. If you haven’t supported the fund before and you’re a new avid trail user, this is an opportunity to be part of something a lot bigger.”
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