Photo: Two grants were awarded to HTA to help with hazard tree removal and forest fuels mitigation. Photo by Meara McQuain, HTA Executive Director.
In 2016, Grand County residents passed Ballot Initiative 1A, the Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Measure with 60% of voters voting yes. This created the Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Fund that can be used to (1) Acquire lands that conserve and protect water for agriculture, ranching, outdoor recreation, and that conserve agricultural lands, natural areas, scenic open lands, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and river access, (2) Acquire water rights and water storage rights, and (3) Pay for maintenance costs on hiking and biking trails.
Grand County has awarded $3.5 million of your sales tax dollars to assist with nine open space and river preservation projects and $800,000 to assist with 32 trail maintenance projects. Head over to our website to see a full list of projects – www.co.grand.co.us/851/Open-Lands-Rivers-and-Trails-Advisory-Co
Your sales tax dollars are actively conserving open spaces for future generations right here in Grand County! In 2020, Colorado Headwaters Land Trust (CHLT) and the Town of Hot Sulphur Springs protected open spaces and matching funds were earmarked for a Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program project.
CHLT received funds to help secure matching funds to protect 780 acres of wildlife habitat, scenic and recreational open space, and 1.7 miles of the Colorado River on the Granby Highlands Trails property. Recently, the Town of Hot Sulphur Springs received funds to acquire the Himebaugh Creek property and open it to public access. This same property in Hot Sulphur Springs is also forever protected with a conservation easement held by CHLT that was made possible with your sales tax dollars.
The Town of Granby also completed the Granby Diversion Improvement Project to provide safe passage for trout and non-motorized boaters, of which a portion was funded with the OLRT Fund. With your sales tax dollars, almost 2,000 acres have been conserved in Grand County and over 5 miles of rivers have been protected.
In 2020, your sales tax dollars supported 11 trail maintenance projects! This fund was crucial this year due to the wildfires and windstorms causing urgent trail maintenance needs. The County even awarded HTA with an emergency grant to assist with tree removal after the derecho wind events. Meara McQuain, Executive Director/President of Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA) said, “HTA has been able to accomplish more than ever due to the availability of OLRT funds for hiking and biking trail maintenance projects.” Funds for trail projects this year were awarded to Headwaters Trails Alliance and Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC).
The benefits of your sales tax dollars in Grand County cannot be overstated. The Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails fund will expire at the end of 2026, unless reinstated by the Grand County voters. If you are an entity that has an open space, river, or trail maintenance project in Grand County please contact Anna Drexler-Dreis at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about this excellent funding opportunity.
Grand County and the Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Advisory Committee thanks all Grand County residents for the foresight to create a fund that will save our open spaces, preserve our rivers, and enhance recreational opportunities on hiking and biking trails.
The spring grant cycle opens February 1, 2021 and closes March 5, 2021. More information can be found on the website: www.co.grand.co.us/851/Open-Lands-Rivers-and-Trails-Advisory-Co. Check out Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails on Facebook and follow them on Instagram @grandcounty_olrt.