DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded the first round of funding for its new Connect Initiative trail planning grant program, totaling $1 million in grants.
GOCO’s Connect Initiative will invest $30 million over three years in closing trail gaps and creating safe access for all Coloradans to the outdoors. More than 80% of people in Colorado recreate on trails, and closing gaps and increasing connectivity is a top priority for the state’s residents.
GOCO created the trail planning grant program earlier in 2016 to help municipalities and their partners navigate the complicated planning process for trails, from regional networks to first-ever master plans for communities new to trail building. The program will help trail projects get shovel-ready for construction grants also offered through the Connect Initiative.
This first round of Connect planning grants will have a significant impact on moving 11 projects forward as trail development becomes widely recognized as an economic driver in communities of all sizes in addition to having a significant impact on quality of life for Coloradans.
This round of projects will create three regional trail plans, three first-ever trail master plans, and supports five of Governor Hickenlooper's “16 in 16” trails. Grantees matched GOCO funds almost 1:1, with just under $1 million of funds committed by local partners.
Funded projects are as follows:
Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail Plan, $100,000 grant to Pitkin County
The Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail will ultimately link the two communities, and is a big step forward in realizing a community vision that began in the 1990s. GOCO funding will help complete a trail plan that identifies routes for current missing links and helps partners begin the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) evaluation process, which will assess environmental impacts of the proposed project. The project is also a “16 in 2016” trail.
City of Fort Morgan Trail Master Plan, $100,000 grant to the City of Fort Morgan
The City of Fort Morgan will identify and plan ways to increase access to parks and schools as well as regional connection points in other areas of Morgan County. In addition to considering a regional vision for trails, Fort Morgan will look closely at how to develop a trail system within the 300-acre Twamore Farm open space.
Clear Creek Greenway: East Idaho Springs Planning, $100,000 grant to the City of Idaho Springs in partnership with the Clear Creek Greenway Authority (CCGA)
Idaho Springs and CCGA will complete design and engineering work on the eastern portion of the trail, which will ultimately connect the eastern downtown area to trail networks all the way to Golden.
The project leverages significant progress made in partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation, and once complete will provide easier access to Idaho Springs from the Denver metro area while improving local pedestrian and bike access for year-round residents. The project is also a “16 in 2016” trail.
Complete the Ring Planning Project: $100,000 grant to the City of Colorado Springs in partnership with the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC)
The Ring the Peak Trail is a vision decades in the making to build a contiguous trail loop around Pikes Peak. GOCO funding will hire a planning consultant to help TOSC navigate the environmental and trail alignment obstacles the group has faced, moving the project forward and facilitating the completion of the final 8- to 12-mile gap in the southwest portion of the trail. The project is also a “16 in 2016” trail.
Delta Trails Master Plan, $100,000 grant to Delta County
GOCO funding will help the county develop its first trails master plan to guide future construction. Delta County will coordinate with its towns and other municipalities to establish a plan to connect them with bike, pedestrian, or equestrian access.
Evergreen North Lake Trail Planning Project, $100,000 grant to Evergreen Park and Recreation District (EPRD)
EPRD will conduct an engineering study and preliminary design plans for the North Lake Trail on Evergreen Lake. The trail faces urgent stability and drainage issues that forced its closure earlier this year. The planning effort hopes to redesign the trail segment to separate cyclists and pedestrians, provide areas for wildlife watching and fishing, and become ADA-compliant.
Greenhorn Valley Trails Master Plan, $73,000 grant to Colorado City Metro District
Colorado City will hire design professionals to engage the car-reliant community to think about walkable and bikeable access from neighborhoods to parks, schools, local businesses, and other destinations. A connected trail system will significantly benefit quality of life for residents by improving ADA-access, promoting healthy living, and bolstering community identity.
LoVa Trail Phase III, $75,000 grant to the City of Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs will hire a consultant to evaluate right-of-way issues and environmental impacts of trail construction in addition to completing preliminary pedestrian bridge design and cost estimates for the Lower Valley (LoVa) Trail.
The project will design the South Canyon section of the trail, connecting paved trails in West Glenwood Springs to soft trails in South Canyon and ultimately connecting Eagle and Mesa counties. The LoVa Trail is a “16 in 16” trail.
Namaqua Trail Underpass, $97,000 grant to the City of Loveland
GOCO funding will enable Loveland to conduct an environmental analysis and prepare design and construction documents for a trail segment and underpass at Namaqua Avenue. The segment will close one of three remaining gaps in the city’s 18-mile looped recreation trail, and provide 41,000 residents with safe access to work, parks, schools, and neighborhoods once complete.
Palisade Plunge, $90,000 grant to the Town of Palisade
The Palisade Plunge is the town’s vision to create an iconic downhill mountain biking trail from the top of the Grand Mesa to the valley floor. It will build on the Grand Valley’s efforts to drive economic development by developing outdoor recreation amenities like trails. GOCO planning funds will help Palisade navigate environmental issues and the challenges of this multi-jurisdictional project.
Wildcat Trail, $65,000 grant to Thompson Rivers Parks and Recreation District (TRPRD)
TRPRD has worked with students from the University of Colorado’s Center for Community Development to conduct master planning for an 11.5-mile trail system from Milliken to Firestone. GOCO funds will allow the district to hire a professional design firm to develop construction documents for a 5.5-mile segment of the Wildcat Trail.
The trail will make significant progress for pedestrian and bike access in northern Colorado, where trail gaps encourage reliance on cars and discourage outdoor recreation and physical activity.
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,800 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.