Lower Valley Trailway group still following its path
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A group working on a 40-year trail project to connect Garfield County communities along the Colorado River corridor is still plugging away.
The Lower Valley Trailway (LoVa) has been seeking adoption of the plan by towns along the Colorado River Corridor recently, said Brian Brown of Silt, Lower Valley Trailway board president.
LoVa has drawn up a plan for 47-mile-long-trailway from Parachute to Glenwood Springs that parallels the Colorado River.
The trailway was conceived in 1999 by a group of citizens from New Castle, Silt, Rifle, and Parachute, said Brown.
The group raised funds locally and was awarded a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to develop a preliminary plan. With the funds, totaling $73,000, LoVa hired Bob Searns of Urban Edges from Littleton to help come up with the plan and identify possible geological, wildlife, and environmental problems.
The trailway plan includes two trails. One trail is a 10-foot-wide hard trail to accommodate walking, biking, and in-line skating. The other is a soft trail for equestrians, runners and other users, said Brown.
Though the trail is often the focus, the project will be much more than a trail.
“The trail is the string and then there are these pearls along the way,” said David Hamilton, of Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, who is working with LoVa. The trailway will likely include river access, boat launches, rest areas, and hunting and fishing areas.
LoVa has worked with Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife to ensure that current uses and environments are preserved.
“We are exploring mutual interests and how we can incorporate their objectives with ours,” said Brown of working with other groups.
One of the major issues with building the trail is getting the land to build the trail on.
In May 2002 LoVa sent invitations to landowners along the trailway’s proposed route to meet with the group.
Landowners’ opinions ranged from being all for the trailway to being adamantly opposed, said Hamilton.
Opposing property owners cited concerns over privacy, intrusion, and security on their property. They also worried that their property taxes might be raised, or that their property would be condemned, said Hamilton.
LoVa volunteers want to work with property owners to make the trail something that everyone can live with.
“We do not support the use of condemnation,” said Brown. “We can only do this with the wishes of the landowners and the support of people in the area.”
LoVa will be opportunistic, said Brown, and put the trail through land when the land becomes available. He said while a current property owner may not want a trail on or near their property, a subsequent landowner might not mind.
After the public meetings in 2002, many of the landowners saw some value in the trail, said Hamilton.
Not only did the land owners get some insight into what the trail might mean to them, LoVa also got a better idea of what it was trying to protect. Hamilton said many of the landowners brought great insights about the Colorado River corridor, like great hunting or fishing spots that are worth protecting.
LoVa has presented its plan to the planning and zoning commissions for each of the towns from Glenwood Springs to Parachute and all have adopted the plan, said Brown.
Adoption of the plan means that as town zoning changes and annexation occurs, the commissions will try to make plans for the trailway to fit with development, said Brown.
Brown also said developers will likely want to help develop the trailway because it is a selling point for buyers.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is supporting the project. CDOT owns the land easement through South Canyon, west of Glenwood Springs.
LoVa received $165,000 worth of CDOT enhancement funds to help build the trail parallel to the Colorado River through South Canyon.
“This is not just a recreational trail,” said Brown. A large part of what LoVa is trying to do is create a sense of stewardship for the river corridor, he said.
“The trail effort might also be the effort to preserve the Colorado River corridor,” said Hamilton.
For information on the Lower Valley Trailway, call (970) 876-LOVA (5682) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 535
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