GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The new Grand Valley Trail Alliance aims to bring diverse trail users together to further the common goal of creating and maintaining public trails in the valley and surrounding area.
Mountain bikers, motorized vehicle users, hikers, and horseback riders, as well as Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service representatives, and city and county officials - about 100 people altogether - met last week at the Colorado Mesa University Ballroom for a GVTA open house to learn how all user groups could work together for the sake of trails.
The trail alliance, ranging from the motorized vehicle group Responsible Recreation Foundation to the Grand Valley Quiet Trail Users, will share their individual expertise, and together will have more leverage in attracting larger grants for building and maintaining trails, said GVTA coordinator David Grossman.
Part of Grossman's job will be to catalog in a database all trail systems in the Grand Valley and surrounding region - including city, Forest Service, BLM, Park Service lands.
"It will be a resource for the community to understand what we have," Grossman said.
The BLM formed the trail alliance in January to serve as an umbrella group organization for all the different users, including Western Slope ATV, COPMOBA (Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trails Association), Jeep clubs, horseback riders and hikers, said Michelle Bailey, BLM assistant field manager.
"They were all working independently for the same goal," Bailey said. "This organization (GVTA) will get all those groups together so they can work amongst themselves.
"Each organization has organizational strengths, a volunteer base and knowledge of valley resources. If they all get together to share there will be more opportunities for grant funds," she said.
With budget cuts and limited staff, the BLM was struggling to keep up with the volume of trail proposals and maintenance requests.
"We see it as an opportunity to build relationships and great trails," Grossman said.
Grossman will help manage the trail proposal process, and in some cases combine requests. The trail alliance will also educate trail user groups regarding trails and writing effective proposals.
The initial stakeholders in the GVTA are COPMOBA and the Responsible Recreation Foundation, who are working together with the BLM Grand Junction Field Office under an assistance agreement.
Trail construction, including design and maintenance, can cost $3,000 to $5,000 a mile, Bailey said.
"With such a diversity of trails, trail uses, and agencies overseeing trail management, the Grand Valley would benefit from a more unified, valleywide coordination of trail management," Bailey said.
For any new trails, the BLM would perform the environmental assessments in-house, she said.
"People come here from all over the world for trails," Bailey said. "The social and economic benefit to our community is amazing and far outweighs the cost.
"As we grow that community asset, we need to maintain it."
For more information about GVTA, visit www.gvtrails.com.