At Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Advisory Committee (OLRTAC) chair, Paul Bruchez presented recommendations for the Fall 2018 grant cycle. Bruchez told the commissioners that, in this cycle, 6 grant applications were received. 5 applications were for trails and 1 was for open lands. All 6 were recommended for approval by the committee.
“This cycle is relatively simple, since the total for all applications fell below minimum thresholds”, said Bruchez. For Trails, the 15% allotted cap for maintenance afforded a total of $118,848. In total, the committee recommended funding in the amount of $112,681.
Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA) submitted three grant applications, and using the committee’s rating system, all three projects scored very high.
Project Name: Countywide Adopt-A-Trail Program (AAT)
Description: HTA is requesting $11,361, which is 44% of the total project cost for the Adopt-A-Trail Program (AAT) program. The AAT program is an extension of HTA’s trail maintenance program in which land managers allow HTA to leverage resources to assist with the several million dollars of deferred maintenance on Grand County’s trail systems. By utilizing volunteers to help “oversee” the trails and perform labor during scheduled project days on specific trails throughout the trail season, HTA can accomplish more trail maintenance work and promote stewardship of our public lands.
Recommended Funding: With an average score of 93.8, OLRTAC recommends $11,361 to be allocated to this project with the requirement that HTA provide a list of projects they are working on when their field schedule is set. The motion passed unanimously.
OLRTAC Reasoning: The Advisory Committee supports this project because it encourages community and youth involvement, is county-wide, creates environmental stewards, and is an important program that allows many trails to be maintained by volunteers.
Project Name: Idlewild Gateway Project
Description: HTA is requesting $15,440, which is 30% of the total project cost for the Idlewild Gateway Project. The Idlewild Gateway Project is a large trail maintenance and reroute project with Rendezvous, Winter Park, and the USFS to construct a final alignment of Meadow Trail from Winter Park up into the Idlewild Trail System. This trail is part of HTA’s master trails plan for a stacked loop system, immediately outside of town, that would feature beginner trails close to town and more difficult trails further into the system. This request is only to reroute and maintain the portion of the Meadow Trail on USFS land between Friendship Drive and Crosstrails Trail as this ¼ mile of trail is braided, wide, fall line, eroding, drainage challenged and travels through a wetland.
Recommended Funding: With an average score of 93.3, OLRTAC recommends $15,440 to be allocated to this project. The motion passed unanimously.
OLRTAC Reasoning: The Advisory Committee supports this project because it is an important gateway to high-usage trail systems, the community uses the trail to commute Fraser to and from Winter Park, and the trail will be re-routed around a sensitive wetland habitat.
Project Name: Fraser Valley Trail Smart Sizing (TSS) Phase I – 2019
Description: HTA is requesting $34,700, which is 4% of the total project cost for the TSS project and 20% of the total cost for TSS fiscal year 2019. HTA is assisting the Sulphur Ranger District (SRD) of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest with fiscal agency and implementation of the “Trails Smart Sizing” (TSS) Project. The TSS project developed out of the 2015 update to the Grand County Master Trails Plan. This project is designed to mitigate ecological damage due to historic poor trail development (i.e. trenching, erosion, sedimentation into creeks, wildlife habitat fragmentation, etc.) and improve the overall recreational experience for trail users in the Winter Park and Fraser area. It includes up to 18 miles of new trail construction, trail reroutes, maintenance, bridges, restoration (Phase 1) and enhancements at trailheads (Phase 2). Project implementation began in 2017 and will cost an estimated $1 million.
Recommended Funding: With an average score of 89.3, OLRTAC recommends $34,700 to be allocated to this project. The motion passed unanimously.
OLRTAC Reasoning: The Advisory Committee supports this project because this larger project will reduce future trail maintenance costs, will reduce wildlife habitat fragmentation, and is needed because the trail system was adopted from old USFS extraction routes there were created in an unsustainable way.
Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District
Project Name: Nordic and Hiking Trails Maintenance and Equipment Repair
Description: GLMRD is requesting $33,200, which is 78% of the total project cost For Nordic and hiking trail maintenance and equipment repair. The GLMRD is over 500 acres, with almost 400 of that utilized as hiking, mountain biking, and Nordic ski trails. Recent disturbances including logging projects, a 21-acre forest fire, and general wear and tear have required extensive trail maintenance. The following is a summary of the proposed projects:
- Restore, rebuild, and reroute trails through the burn area, including rerouting trails out of a wetland zone and noxious weed control.
- Maintain hiking and biking trails in both areas affected by recent wildfire mitigation and all other trails, including noxious weed control, erosion prevention, hazard tree removal, and adding trail directional and interpretive signage, as well as trail smart sizing.
- Maintain Nordic ski trails and provide necessary equipment repair to machinery, including a Pisten Bully and three snowmobiles. Maintaining Nordic trails includes grooming over 20 miles of trails for both Classic and Skate skiing techniques, groomed daily, seven days a week for up to 20 weeks through the winter. Costs associated are labor costs, fuel and daily maintenance, replacement parts for the snowcat (Pisten Bully) and three snowmobiles with grooming packers. Other costs include trail sign replacement and costs associated with winter trailside tree removal.
Recommended Funding: The Advisory Committee decided to rank this grant application as two separate projects.
- The proposed project of (a) and (b) for a total of $15,200, which includes maintenance work on the Rec District’s summer trails had an average score of 82.9. For completion of projects (a) and (b) on the Rec District’s summer trails, OLRTAC recommends $15,200 to be allocated to this project with the requirement that the Advisory Committee receives an updated report on how the Spring and Fall trail projects work together. The motion passed unanimously.
- The proposed project of (c) for a total of $18,000, which includes maintenance work on the Rec District’s Nordic trails and equipment repair and parts had an average score of 46.0. For completion of project (c) on the Rec District’s Nordic Trails, OLRTAC recommends $18,000 to be allocated to this project. The motion passed with a vote of 6 – 2 in favor.
- The Advisory Committees support the hiking and biking (a) and (b) portion of the grant application because the Grand Lake Metro Rec District was affected by a 21-acre forest fire and the hiking and biking trails that were affected need maintenance work.
- Six Advisory Committee members support the Nordic portion © of the grant application because these trails support the local community, allow trail users to bring their dogs, and Nordic skiing is an important recreational sport for 6-months out of the year. Two Advisory Committee members do not support the Nordic portion (c) of the grant application because fee base trails should not receive OLRT funds which takes away funding available for free trails. Also,the grant application and map submitted were vague.
Bruchez told the commissioners that this project and the next stimulated interesting conversation among the committee members. Several expressed concern with projects on fee-based trails potentially taking away funding from those that do not charge a fee. Bruchez confirmed that neither the resolution nor the bylaws stipulate anything regarding fee-based use.
Snow Mountain Ranch
Project Name: Nine Mile Trail Reconstruction and Maintenance
Description: Snow Mountain Ranch is requesting $17,980, which is 45% of their total project budget for the Nine Mile Trail Reconstruction and Maintenance project. The Nine Mile Trail Reconstruction is a rebuild and maintenance project of a long existing trail. The current trail is 1.1 miles long and is built on mostly unsustainable grades. Fall line erosion has created a trail that is not safe or sustainable and because of this, the use from a wide and varying demographic is limited. The major work of this project is widening and resurfacing of the trail tread, rerouting to achieve a sustainable grade, and construction of two bridges over a 10’ deep ravine. The trail will be used for hiking, uphill mountain biking, snowshoeing, and an uphill route for AT skiing. This project will greatly increase the compatibility for diverse user groups to access this area. The expected duration of the project is May 20, 2019 to July 22, 2019.
OLRTAC Funding: With an average score of 49.0, OLRTAC recommends $17,980 to be allocated to this project. The motion passed with a vote of 6-2 in favor.
OLRTAC Reasoning: Six Advisory Committee members support this project because Snow Mountain Ranch gives back to the Grand County community and the school system, there is a significant match from the grantee, the trail is in need of maintenance and connects to the larger Trail-system, and the request is only for trail materials. Two Advisory Committee members do not support this project because fee trails should not receive OLRT funds as it takes away funds available for free trails.
Of the $118,848 in available funds for trails, the OLRTAC recommended funding a total of $112,681, leaving a fund balance of $6,167.
Only one application was received for Open Lands, and none for Rivers, during the fall grant cycle.
Colorado Headwaters Land Trust
Project Name: Granby Trails Highlands
Description: Colorado Headwaters Land Trust is requesting $16,400, which is 89% of this phase of the total project cost of the Granby Trails Highlands project. This is the preliminary phase of what the Town of Granby and CHLT anticipate will be a multi-phase project to place a conservation easement on approximately 739 acres of the upland area of the Granby Trails property owned by the Town (referred here as Granby Trails Highlands). Before the terms of the easement can be negotiated, the value of a conservation easement must be determined by an appraisal from an appraiser qualified to value conservation easements. The requested grant funding would be used to obtain a Phase 1 appraisal. CHLT anticipated that it will apply for OLRT funds in the future as part of a subsequent, Granby Trails easement purchase. At the suggestion of The OLRTAC, the scope of the project has been revised to include all of the Granby Trails Property north of the Colorado River, except those planning areas that have been sold or are used for sand and gravel extraction.
Recommended Funding: With an average score of 88.1, OLRTAC recommends $16,400 to be allocated to this project with the requirement that any cost overruns be paid by Colorado Headwaters Land Trust. The motion passed unanimously.
OLRTAC Reasoning: The Advisory Committee supports this project because it is a high-quality property due to wildlife habitat for winter range and sage grouse, proximity to the Colorado River corridor, and scenic value from preserving this property from development. The Grand County Open Space Plan identifies this property as the #1 piece of property to protect with a conversation easement. OLRTAC encourages Colorado Headwaters Land Trust to try to connect the two parcels that surround Sun Communities and encourages the Town of Granby to be a funding partner in the future.
Of the $738,619 in available funds for open lands and rivers, the OLRTAC recommended funding a total of $16,400, leaving a balance of $722,219. Bruchez told the commissioners the fund balance was great. “In order to do a larger scale project, we need to build a reserve and get some buffer in the budget.” This would allow an opportunity for future property acquisition.
In closing, Bruchez stated, “It’s an honor to continue to do this, we have an amazing committee”. The commissioners approved the OLRTAC’s recommendations unanimously.
OLRTAC Administrator, Anna Drexler-Dreis, next presented the committee’s proposed changes to the bylaws, which included allowing committee members to call in to a meeting they are unable to attend in-person and to be part of the quorum on any vote. The changes also clarified the duties of the treasurer, which had been missing from the original document.
Commissioner Cimino brought up the 15% cap on trails maintenance and requested that it be deleted. Commissioner Manguso stated “we have conflicting legal opinions, and, until we are all pretty comfortable, legally, it would be a mistake for us to approve” deletion of the 15% cap. The Town of Fraser had recently conducted a review of the original ballot measure and associated documents, and, the town’s attorney’s opinion differed from county legal counsel. Further investigation is currently underway. “I don’t think the 15% should be in there at all”, said Cimino.
The Board is planning a workshop on trails in January and continued the discussion on the 15% cap to the upcoming workshop. Members of OLRTAC will also attend the workshop and will participate in the discussion. The BOCC unanimously approved the changes in the bylaws.
To listen to the meeting and learn more, visit: co.grand.co.us