LoVa Trail project through South Canyon receives major Garfield FMLD funding
The first successful Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District Joint Grant goes to an area trail project that’s been in the works for more than two decades.
Mineral lease district officials on Wednesday announced that the Lower Valley (LoVa) Trail project — an effort to connect Glenwood Springs and New Castle via a paved, non-motorized trail — will receive $700,000.
The city of Glenwood Springs, town of New Castle and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority combined forces to go after funding for a section of the trail that would parallel Interstate 70 and the Colorado River through South Canyon.
Currently, short trail segments extend west from the Mitchell Creek area in West Glenwood, and east from the South Canyon bridge, but both trails dead-end.
Several local, state and federal funding efforts have fizzled over the years to fund what’s now being called the “Meet Me in the Middle” project. A larger $11 million Federal Lands Access Grant application to fund a major portion of the project was recently declined.
The FMLD grant, which is being matched by funding from all three partner entities, represents the first real chance to move the trail connection closer to reality, LoVa Trails Group Executive Director Jeanne Golay said.
Specifically, the grant would be used to fund a trail extension west from Glenwood Springs to a point overlooking the Colorado River where a picnic shelter is planned as a destination.
“It doesn’t get us all way through South Canyon, but it’s a start,” Golay said. “What’s really important about the grant news, though, is that it’s the first successful partnership grant that FMLD has given.”
FMLD is a separate entity formed to distribute proceeds from mineral leasing on federal lands in Garfield County. Two years ago, it announced the new Joint Grant Program, asking local governmental entities to join forces on projects of common interest.
“This is one thing that unites the entire region,” Golay said of the larger project to build a trail connection between Glenwood and Carbondale, and eventually farther west through Garfield County and into Mesa County.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in 2016, included the Lower Valley Trail on a list of priority trail links in the state.
The proposed 8.5-mile trail from Glenwood to New Castle would come at an estimated cost of $17 million. Plans are about 70% complete, Golay said.
Joint Grant Program
Lower Valley (LoVa) South Canyon Trail “Meet Me in the Middle Project” (New Castle, Glenwood Springs and RFTA) — $700,000
Radio Replacement/Upgrade (Grand Valley, Colorado River, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs fire districts) — $165,000
Traditional Grant Program
Battlement Mesa water service line replacements — $50,000
Carbondale Fire District wildland fire brush truck — $85,000
Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority/radio tower replacement — $102,000
Rifle High School ventilation system — $165,000
New Castle bulk water station — $81,000
Parachute/Cottonwood Park splash pad phase 2 — $70,000
Rifle street reconstruction (Third, Fifth and Fravert) — $400,000
Silt wastewater collection improvements — $300,000
Mini Grant Program
Rifle High School greenhouse natural gas conversion — $12,283
New Castle public safety equipment upgrade — $23,238
Parachute sewer jet truck — $25,000
Rifle senior bus purchase — $25,000
Rifle Housing Authority/Kendall Heights improvements — $20,263
Silt Water Conservancy District/weed management equipment — $7,928
Also awarded a Joint Grant in the fall FMLD cycle was a project between Garfield County fire districts to upgrade radio communications. That project received $165,000.
Total grants awarded for the fall cycle, including the Traditional and Mini Grant programs, totaled $2,231,712. Since 2012, the Garfield FMLD has awarded more than $25.7 million in grants.
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