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Colorado Parks and Wildlife funds local trails in Crested Butte and Gunnison

“Grant resources allowed us to do this project right”

By Alissa Johnson

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced this month that it is giving $6.18 million in grants to help communities build and maintain motorized and non-motorized trails in 2015 and 2016. Several grants have been awarded in the Gunnison Valley, filling a vital role in trail maintenance

The grants included $85,000 for a trail crew in the Gunnison Ranger District, $48,500 for a Bureau of Land Management trail crew, and $40,600 to the Gunnison ranger District to reconstruct and maintain the Brush Creek side of the Block-and-Tackle trail.

Kristi Murphy, BLM recreation planner, said the CPW support enables the BLM to employ a two-person trail crew for six months each year. And achieving “good management status” has simplified the process of securing the funds.

“You have to apply for the grant three years in a row and be successful in completing the tasks you said you would complete,” Murphy explained.

Now the BLM goes through a different application process and has a guaranteed crew to work on motorized trails and road signing in Hinsdale and Gunnison counties as well as portions of Saguache County.

“They spend May and June at Hartman’s doing maintenance on motorized trails and then July and August on the Alpine Loop in Lake City,” Murphy said. During the fall, they go back and forth between the two to do additional maintenance.

“[The grants] are absolutely awesome. The BLM would not be as successful here if we didn’t have the crew on board,” Murphy said, noting that CPW grants also made the reroute of Water Treatment and Fenceline trails at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area.

Gunnison Trails applied for the grant a couple of years ago in partnership with the BLM and the Gunnison Valley O.H.V. Alliance of Trailriders (GOATs). According to Gunnison Trails executive director David Wiens, the project would not have happened as quickly or efficiently without the help of CPW’s OVH Grant Program for motorized trails.

“The grant resources allowed us to do this project right, which meant hiring a heavy equipment operator to help restore the old trails and two weeks of Youth Corps help for heavy construction and reclamation efforts,” he said.

“While we probably could have pulled this project off without the grant funding, it would have been much more difficult and I’m sure we’d still be a few years away from breaking ground on it. Now all we’re waiting on is permanent signage,” Wiens continued.

Gunnison Ranger District trails manager Greg Austin agrees that the CPW support has been critical. In addition to more than a decade of support for its good management trail crew and the incoming funds for the Block-and-Tackle Trail, many other CPW grants have been put to use in the valley.

“Our Ranger District, since 1995, has obtained about $2.3 million from the OHV trail grant program, and it’s really been a godsend because Congress doesn’t fund trail maintenance like they did in the 1960s and 70s,” Austin said. “Without it, we would be struggling to maintain what we have. There are nearly 1200 miles of trails in the District.”

According to a press release from CPW, grants for 2015 and 2016 for multi-purpose motorized trails and activities will total $4.2 million, and non-motorized trails programs will receive $1.98 million.

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