Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund awards nearly $30,000 to area land managers |

Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund awards nearly $30,000 to area land managers

The Yampa Valley Community Foundation, courtesy of the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund, is awarding three area land managers $29,122 combined for the 2021 grant cycle.

This is the sixth-consecutive year the Yampa Valley Community Foundation has issued grants from the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund, which was established in 2015 with the purpose of creating a permanent fund to support nonmotorized trails in Routt and Moffat counties.

The 2021 funds are going to the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and Stagecoach State Park, as well as the city of Steamboat Springs and Steamboat Digs Dogs.

The city and local nonprofit Steamboat Digs Dogs is being given $7,122 for trail improvements at Rita Valentine Park. The Forest Service and the BLM will receive $15,000 for two summer seasonal full time staff, and Stagecoach State Park was granted $7,000 to repair trails and culverts.

Last year, the fund awarded a $9,500 grant to the Forest Service for one seasonal full-time worker, which proved essential. When Mad Creek was closed due to a rock slide, the employee helped clear the debris in a couple of days.

Brendan Kelly, district recreation program manager with the Forest Service, said having a professional trail crew was critical in responding to the slide. Otherwise, the trail could have been closed for months, if not a full year.

“Having a pair of employees funded through the grant will help immensely in the summer of 2022, during which the Forest Service maintains 350 miles of nonmotorized trails,” Kelly said.

Last year, the trail crew helped build a new bridge on Flash of Gold and cleared 1,131 trees. Next year, Kelly expects many trees to be cleared in the Morgan Creek and Middle Fork fire burn scars.

Due to the Morgan Creek Fire, crews couldn’t access trails burned the previous summer by the Middle Fork Fire, so there are two summers and two fires worth of work to be done in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.

The two positions will also work on BLM land, specifically on the backside of Emerald Mountain.

“We decided this year to partner with the BLM because they’re in a similar situation to us, where they have limited funds for maintaining trails,” Kelly said. “We can help if there’s any route-clearing that needs to happen.”

With the BLM based out of Craig, it could be more efficient for Forest Service workers to help maintain the land on the backside of Emerald, as opposed to having the BLM ask for its own grant.

Stagecoach State Park, a popular destination for fishing, boating, camping, biking and more, has seen excessive trail use as of late, which resulted in wear and tear of the gravel-covered paths.

“We have some areas where there are pot holes in the trail, so we’ll be working on some of those areas, adding gravel and flattening those areas out,” said Senior Park Ranger Guthrie Lowe. “Then we have quite a few areas where there are small drainages that run through culverts under the trail and some of those culverts are broken.”

When the endowment fund was created in 2015, there was a goal to raise $100,000 per year through 2026. Because the funds are invested, the total fluctuates with the market, but as of now, it’s at nearly $1 million.

“When we set the goal when the fund was established, it felt like it was ambitious,” said Helen Beall, community impact manager with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. “But this community truly values the quality of our recreational assets, and this is a great example of that.”

The endowment fund has awarded $77,130 since its inception. Fundraising sunsets in 2026, at which point the fund will be self-sustaining and provide $60,000 in grants each year.

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