Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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West Maroon Pass trailhead could see some improvements

Still need to raise $37,500 to fund toilet and parking lot 

By Kristy Acuff

The West Maroon Pass trailhead near Schofield Pass north of Gothic could be on track to receive a much-needed facelift this fall as various local governments and agencies are working together to supply $67,500 in funds to install a composting toilet as well as a gravel parking lot.

Increased visitor traffic to the area in recent years has resulted in an unsanitary and degraded trailhead in need of reclamation.

“It’s one of the areas in dire need of some tender loving care,” says Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District (MetRec) board president Dave Clayton. “Our board voted unanimously to help fund trailhead improvements that are sorely needed.”

The fundraising effort is being coordinated by the National Forest Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the health and public enjoyment of national forests that is in the process of meeting with local businesses and governments to support the campaign. MetRec pledged $25,000 to support the improvements at its most recent board meeting. In addition, the town of Crested Butte has pledged $5,000.

“We are currently working with local governments and businesses to get the remainder of the funds pledged so work can begin this fall,” says Forest Foundation field programs vice president Marcus Selig. “This trailhead project is part of a larger effort of the foundation to address resource needs in the area, with more to come in the future.”

The Gunnison County Board of County Commissioners discussed the project at its June 5 meeting and seems likely to pledge funds in the future. “I think the county should support this. We have until the fall to flush out the details of funding,” said commissioner Phil Chamberland. “But I think it’s definitely a needed project.”

Although the West Maroon trailhead lies within Gunnison County boundaries, it is actually a part of White River National Forest in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. In spite of that, Gunnison National Forest district ranger Matthew McCombs asked Karen Shroyer, district ranger of the Aspen-Sopris National Forest, if Gunnison could take the lead on facilitating the improvements. According to McCombs, Shroyer was happy for the help, considering it is a four-hour drive from Aspen to the trailhead.

“This is not uncommon,” writes McCombs. “Rangers often help each other out when our boundaries don’t make maintenance of a site very easy and your neighbor can accomplish it more efficiently. In this instance, staff from both districts will be working together to design and implement the project, with funds being raised by the National Forest Foundation.”

The intent is to implement improvements this fall if the remaining funds are secured.

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