Vision for Monument Road takes shape in Grand Junction | PostIndependent.com

Vision for Monument Road takes shape in Grand Junction

Caitlin Row
crow@gjfreepress.com
Mesa Land Trust is currently working with landowners and trail users to create a shared-use trail for cyclists and hikers along Monument Road. The ultimate goal is to connect Grand Junction's downtown riverfront to Colorado National Monument.
Caitlin Row / crow@gjfreepress.com | Free Press

MONUMENT ROAD VISION GOALS

1. Protect more land for public open space.

2. Build more trails for biking, hiking and walking.

3. Preserve views and landscapes.

4. Connect bike paths, trails, the Riverfront Trail, downtown Grand Junction, and neighborhoods.

SOURCE: Mesa Land Trust

WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Want to weigh in on Mesa Land Trust’s vision for Monument Road?

Email letters to crow@gjfreepress.com.

Monument Road is more than pavement and paint. It’s a mecca for cyclists and travelers hoping to access Grand Junction gems — namely Colorado National Monument and Lunch Loop Trailhead near The Ridges neighborhood and Redlands Mesa Golf Course.

Heading into 2015, proponents of conservation — with Mesa Land Trust at the helm — hope to solidify a vision for the vast area that includes trail connectivity from the Colorado National Monument to Grand Junction’s Colorado River and downtown area.

“Our vision is to connect South Camp Road to downtown [with a shared-use path for cyclists, hikers and joggers], and in the process you’re connecting all these incredible amenities — Lunch Loops, the Riverfront Trails, downtown, and then neighborhoods,” said Libby Collins, Mesa Land Trust’s project coordinator. “A path adds an amazing amount of walkability and rideability.”

Dave Grossman, a Grand Valley Trails Alliance board member, also noted that connecting Grand Valley’s Riverfront Trail System to Colorado National Monument will encourage community enjoyment of public lands.

“Colorado National Monument is such a unique landscape, and connecting it by trail — not just road — is a unique opportunity,” Grossman explained. “What makes the Monument Road project so exciting is that it really has three layers of opportunity: it preserves a really beautiful, unique view-scape right on the edge of town; it’s a popular, traveled corridor; and it’s still an important migration route for wildlife.”

Chris Pipkin, an outdoor recreation planner for Bureau of Land Management’s Grand Junction Field Office, agreed with that sentiment.

“I would like to see the development of trails providing an off-road connection from the Riverfront Trail to the Tabeguache Trailhead, which would provide a safer and more enjoyable way to get from town out to the trail system,” Pipkin said.

Grand Junction’s BLM office manages the popular Lunch Loop Trail System. The Tabeguache Trailhead, which is primarily accessed by Monument Road, is managed by the City of Grand Junction.

BACKGROUND

According to Collins, Mesa Land Trust began public outreach in 2013 — as part of the Three Sisters trail project— to develop a wish list for Monument Road as a whole, which spans approximately five miles from downtown Grand Junction to Colorado National Monument’s east entrance. From those meetings, Mesa Land Trust found out that local trail users hoped for increased view protection, trails and connectivity.

“No one wanted to see Monument Road developed into high-density housing,” she said.

Another result of those meetings was Mesa Land Trust’s purchase of additional land near Three Sisters and Lunch Loops, which turned into the most recent Bookends trail project.

“The vision sets the stage,” Collins said. “We’ve got [the Bookends]; what’s next? Which property owners do we need to work with to get shared-use trails to South Camp Road, and which property owners do we need to work with to protect views?”

Mesa Land Trust also stressed the importance of working with landowners to accomplish connectivity goals, not against them.

“One of the reasons Three Sisters and Bookends was so successful is that we worked collaboratively with the landowners,” Collins explained. “Anything moving forward at this point has to be with the permission and the buy-in of the landowners. Any future work we do along Monument Road has to be a win-win for the community and the landowners.”

MOUNTAIN-BIKE COMMUNITY BENEFITS

Grand Valley’s Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association, otherwise known as COPMOBA, continues to be a stakeholder in Monument Road’s surrounding area due to its abundance of mountain-bike singletrack.

“We’ve been involved with Mesa Land Trust’s Three Sisters and the Bookends project,” said Kristina Kittelson, COPMOBA’s coordinator. “We partnered with them to build singletrack mountain-bike trails,” including singletrack appropriate for beginners to the sport.

With an expansive vision for Monument Road, Kittelson hopes improved accessibility to singletrack will encourage cyclists of all levels to sample Grand Junction’s offerings.

“Monument Road is fairly busy,” she said. “A vision for creating accessibly is a huge thing. Building trails for all skill levels opens up opportunity as well.”

Trail-building efforts at Three Sisters and Bookends near Lunch Loops will continue in 2015 and new volunteers are always welcome.

“This is part of our heritage — to be able to ride your bike along the Monument Road corridor,” Collins said. “It’s not a new thing, and it’s not just a mountain-bike niche thing.”

To learn about Mesa Land Trust, visit http://www.mesalandtrust.org.


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