Grand Junction native Jane Quimby has fond memories of the Three Sisters, a patch of land near the Bureau of Land Management's Lunch Loop/Tabeguache Trail system on Monument Road.
As a child she'd accompany her brothers and father to the area where they'd shoot their rifles. So when she and her family learned about a proposal to preserve the area as a public park, the Quimbys supported the idea financially through their family foundation.
The Quimbys are one of more than 500 individuals and corporations who have donated to the project to turn the 130-acre property into a park for hiking, running, mountain biking and dog walking.
"It bridges downtown to the (Colorado National) Monument," Quimby said. "It's an important gateway to the Monument. It's a worthwhile project."
The Three Sisters park will extend the Lunch Loop, a group of trails hugely popular with mountain bikers and runners. The adjoining Three Sisters terrain is easier than the Lunch Loop, however, making it ideal for beginner and intermediate mountain bikers and families, organizers said.
Grand Junction and the BLM will co-manage the new park area that lies directly east of the Lunch Loop parking lot. A grand opening is projected for the fall.
"It was a real community effort," to raise the funds to purchase the property from Pat and Gerry Tucker and Conquest Development, Mesa Land Trust Executive Director Rob Bleiberg said.
The land trust closed on the Three Sisters property June 5, placed a conservation easement on it, and deeded the land to the City of Grand Junction for use as a park.
"This was a huge milestone for us," Bleiberg said. "It's been two years now we've been working hard to reach public ownership."
At one point there was a proposed subdivision for the area, propelling people like the Quimbys to donate to the project.
Quimby already mountain bikes, hikes and walks her dog around the Lunch Loop area.
"It's dog friendly, a great place," she said. "It's remarkable how close it is to the city, (and yet) go up in the off-times and you could be a million miles away."
One of the project's largest donors, Great Outdoors Colorado, stipulated with its $675,000 grant that the area always be used as a public park.
The city has also been a great partner, Bleiberg said, by donating a piece of commercially zoned property toward the purchase price.
"We're delighted and fortunate to partner with so many community members to create this asset that will benefit generations of residents and visitors to the community," Bleiberg said. "The Monument Road corridor is extremely important to people who live here."
The land acquisition will ultimately improve bike access from downtown to Monument Road and the Lunch Loop. An eventual goal is to link the Three Sisters to the Riverfront Trail, Bleiberg said.
The land trust will work with the city, the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association, BLM and others to design trails and educational features for the area, starting in the fall. The entire project - land purchase and development - will cost $1.63 million.