Glenwood’s LoVa trail begins its westward odyssey

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
John Colson/Post IndependentGarfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt praises the Lower Valley Trails Group, along with a variety of agencies and governments that helped create the LoVa Trail in West Glenwood Springs. With Houpt are (left to right) LoVa executive director Larry Dragon, Bill Kane of the Colorado State Parks Trails Program, and Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” For the Lower Valley Trails Group, May 15 was a banner day.

Well, more precisely a blue ribbon day, when a gaggle of local trails advocates and governmental representatives gathered for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate roughly 650 linear feet of a new trail in West Glenwood Springs.

That means there is a mere 47 miles left to go before the trail, known as LoVa, reaches its ultimate goal, the Garfield/Mesa County line.

And the next few miles, through the South Canyon narrows, will be nearly as difficult as the initial 650 feet, which has taken a decade to build, trails advocates said this week.

Tod Tibbetts, one of two original LoVa board members who were there at the beginning in 1999, recalled that he and a group of others recognized that residential and commercial growth was reaching epic proportions and that if they were ever to get a trail built along the Colorado River corridor they needed to get moving.

“We needed to get ahead of the process,” he said at the ribbon cutting, adding that “this section, through South Canyon, is probably the most technical, costly and challenging” of the entire project.

LoVa Executive Director Larry Dragon concurred, remarking that the group faces a tangle of interlocked jurisdictions in its goal to build the trail in the I-70 right of way.

Dragon explained that the interstate is managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation for the U.S. Highway Administration, which in turn leases the right-of-way from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

And then there is the county government and the municipalities, all of which will require negotiations for easements and other agreements.

For example, Dragon noted, “It’s a county trail, and they’ve never been in the trails business before,” making this a learning experience for all concerned.

Dragon said the first stretch of trail, the one dedicated on Friday, cost approximately $650,000 to build, with another $250,000 for design and approvals. Add to that the fact that the city of Glenwood estimates it spent about $125,000 to build the bridge over Mitchell Creek, and a picture begins to appear of the effort and expense involved.

Dragon said the length of trail from West Glenwood to the South Canyon Bridge is estimated to cost about $3 million, and the LoVa board is working to find grants, government subsidies and other sources of funding.

Garfield County has pledged, in principal, $100,000 per year for the next two years, Glenwood Springs expects to pony up another $100,000 for 2011, and state recreation and trails money is expected to be available in time for construction of at least part of the remaining South Canyon stretch starting next year.


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