Garfield County offers matching funds for Lower Valley trail
The Garfield County commissioners unanimously approved a $150,000 matching grant for a portion of the Lower Valley trail project Monday.
The Lower Valley Trails Group needed to make up a $300,000 shortfall to go forward constructing a portion of the trail west of Glenwood Springs.
The bulk of the $1.2 million project is funded by a Federal Mineral Lease District grant of $700,000.
“LoVa is extremely grateful for the county’s support in this emergent situation. We find ourselves in a difficult spot in that we want to accept the FMLD grant and deliver the project as it was awarded,” said Jeanne Golay, executive director of the LoVa group.
“The county responded in a very positive way and we are hopeful that the remaining project partners can increase their contributions a bit more to make it happen,” Golay said.
The county will only provide the grant if LoVa can raise the additional $150,000 from other sources. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has pledged an additional $75,000 on top of the $100,000 they already committed, Golay said.
Golay will ask the Glenwood Springs City Council to consider increasing their contribution by $75,000 at their Thursday meeting.
The Meet Me in the Middle project will build just under 700 feet of trail along the Colorado River heading west from the Glenwood Sanitation plant. The trail will terminate at a wider section between the Interstate 70 and the river, where the plan calls for building picnic shelters.
The cost of that project section alone is $1.2 million. Since there isn’t enough of a bank between the river and the interstate, the trail has to be placed on mechanically stabilized earth walls, similar to the path in sections of the Glenwood Canyon bike path.
Golay initially asked the county for the full $300,000 shortfall, which the commissioners declined, suggesting the matching grant.
The ultimate goal of the LoVa trail group is to have a trail next to the Colorado River spanning Garfield County, from De Beque to Glenwood Springs, connecting to the Glenwood Canyon bike path.
The most expensive portion of that theoretical trail is through South Canyon, where cost of building the trail is around $2 million per mile, according to Golay.
But once that section is complete, Golay sees the potential of tremendous benefit to the region in terms of tourism and recreational dollars.
The trail group has until Dec. 31 to turn in their final project plan to the FMLD.
If the project fund is short at that date, the trail will have to terminate earlier than expected.
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.