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Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail closer to reality

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

A trail between Carbondale and Crested Butte could be one step closer to becoming a reality.

Pitkin County commissioners approved a resolution last week supporting a $200,000 grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado that, if awarded, will go toward planning efforts for the trail.

If GOCO awards the grant, Pitkin County will match it with $200,000 from the county’s open space and trails fund, according to the resolution.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper chose the 74-mile trail between Carbondale and Crested Butte earlier this year as one of 16 statewide trails he particularly wants built.

GOCO is the lead agency for providing funds to get those trails built, and Pitkin County open space staff have already been in contact with GOCO officials, according to an Aug. 24 memo from Open Space and Trails Assistant Director Gary Tennenbaum.

In addition, open space staff have met with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Gunnison County, the town of Crested Butte and Colorado Parks and Wildlife in preparation for the trail planning effort, the memo states. The grant application is due Sept. 13, while GOCO is scheduled to hand out grants in December, Tennenbaum said.

Gunnison County commissioners were supportive of the project during a meeting with their Pitkin County counterparts last month, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. However, Gunnison County doesn’t have funds to put toward the trail planning effort because it doesn’t have a funding mechanism like Pitkin County’s open space mill levy, he said.

As Pitkin County plans the trail and begins incurring costs, officials will seek funding from Gunnison County and the town of Crested Butte, the memo states.

The trail, which has been discussed since 1994, has already been started in both Pitkin County and Gunnison County.

Pitkin County in 2008 completed a 5-mile section from south of Carbondale to BRB Campground on Highway 133 that connects to the Rio Grande Trail, which runs from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, according to Tennenbaum’s memo.

On the Gunnison County side, a trail has been completed from Crested Butte to Lake Irwin, the memo states.

The Pitkin County side will require more planning funds than the Gunnison County side because the section from where the trail currently ends to Redstone will require an environmental analysis, an engineering feasibility study and a survey of CDOT’s right of way, according to the memo. The Gunnison side needs an environmental analysis, but because it is single track and outside CDOT’s right of way, engineering and surveying are not necessary, the memo states.

jauslander@aspentimes.com


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