Photo: Headwaters Trails Alliance volunteers work on trail clearing project Courtesy Photo
The Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Advisory Committee (OLRTAC) will begin accepting grant applications for the Fall 2018 funding cycle on August 1, 2018. Applications will be due by September 12, 2018. The OLRTAC will make their recommendations to the Grand County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting on November 13, 2018.
The County’s Open Lands, Rivers and Trails fund was approved by Grand County voters in November 2016. Ballot Measure 1A allowed Grand County sales tax to be increased .3% for a period of ten years and took effect on January 1, 2017. In the last year and a half, the fund has collected about $1,554,000.
The measure states the funds collected are “to be solely used for:
- Keeping water in the Colorado River and other rivers, like the Fraser River, available for agriculture, ranching and outdoor recreation;
- conserving agricultural lands, natural areas, scenic open lands, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and river access through acquisition; and,
- maintaining hiking and biking trails.”
After the Ballot Measure’s passing the County implemented the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Advisory Committee (OLRTAC), in early 2017. The Committee is comprised of nine members representing the Towns of Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling, and Districts I, II and III of unincorporated Grand County. In June, District III representative, Gary Bumgarner, joined the Committee, replacing Diana Matheson.
The Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Fund has approximately $500,000 of available funds for the fall 2018 grant cycle. 15% of these approximated available funds are available for trails projects (about $75,000); 80% of these approximated available funds are available for open lands and river projects (about $400,000), and the remaining 5% is utilized to administer the fund.
The criteria the Committee utilizes for prioritization of applications includes the quality of the resource; property size large enough to protect conservation values; contiguity to existing or likely to be protected properties; vulnerability to development; percentage of value donated by landowner; leveraging of other funds; amount requested; the time frame of the project (may be contingent on available funds for multi-year projects); projects with the county’s agricultural community designed to retain and continue sustainability of ranch lands and water resources; and, projects designed to conserve and keep water within the Colorado River and its tributaries within Grand County.
The OLRT Funds are designated for (compressed for space):
- Projects with willing participants, no funds are to be used for eminent domain or the threat of eminent domain.
- Real property and bodies of water located within Grand County
- Funds may be used in the following manner:
- To acquire lands or interest in lands that conserve and protect water in the Colorado River and its tributaries within Grand County for agriculture, ranching and outdoor recreation, and that conserve agricultural lands, natural areas, scenic open lands, wildlife habitat, wetlands and river access;
- To acquire less than fee interests in real property for the purposes provided herein, such as permanent conservation easements, future interests, covenants, development rights, subsurface rights and contractual rights;
- To acquire fee title interest in real property;
- To acquire water rights and water storage rights;
- To maintain hiking and biking trails;
- To allow expenditure of funds for joint projects between the County and municipalities, or other governmental entities in the County;
- To pay for all related costs of acquisition, such as costs of appraisal, surveying, legal and other services related to documentation and reports, stewardship of easements and construction; and,
- To implement and effectuate the purposes of the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Program.
4. Multi-year projects will be considered and may be reviewed on an annual basis.
The OLRTAC reviews all applications received and makes their recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners who, ultimately, have final discretion on disbursement of 1A funds.
To learn about Grand County’s Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Fund, visit: co.grand.co.us. Questions on the OLRTF can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HTA projects benefit from 1A Funds
On April 24th, the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Advisory Committee presented their Spring 2018 grant funding recommendations to the Grand County Board of Commissioners. In total, $1,262,614 was parceled out to seven grant applicants for a total of ten various land, river and trail projects.
Nonprofit Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA), was awarded a total of $133,050 for four projects. A fifth request, for General Operating Support, was declined, since general administrative funding is not allowed, per the Resolution and OLRT Bylaws.
Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA) is a nonprofit advocacy organization for trails in scenic Grand County, Colorado. Surrounded by mountain peaks and passes, Grand County streams are the headwaters of the Colorado River. HTA’s primary goal is to provide high quality trails linking towns and recreational areas within Grand County, with secondary trail systems connecting historical, cultural and recreational sites near our communities.
The mission of Headwaters Trails Alliance is to preserve, enhance, and promote sustainable, high quality, multi-use trail opportunities in Grand County.
Unlike many neighboring mountain communities, Grand County does not have a Trails Maintenance Department. HTA’s collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and other community trail organizations allows them to fill the gap in identifying, building and maintaining nearly 1,000 miles of sustainable regional trail connections between the seven counties that border Grand County.
“I am a strong believer in Headwaters Trail Alliance and all the work they accomplish with minimal resources”, said County Commissioner Kristen Manguso. “They are an amazing group, and I fully support their efforts to build and improve trails in Grand County.”
HTA has two full-time, year-round, paid employees. In the summer, HTA is able to hire two seasonal staff members with funding from the towns of Fraser and Winter Park, using dollars from transportation tax funds collected, The Town of Fraser funds all expenses (building, utilities, etc.) associated with their Fraser headquarters, and, the Town of Grand Lake contributes $3,000 to HTA for trail maintenance annually. The rest of HTA’s funding is received through fundraising efforts, grants and donations. Since most grants limit administrative (operating) costs to specific projects, one of HTA’s greatest challenges is funding their payroll.
HTA President, Meara McQuain, said “It’s like the cart and the horse. Everyone gets excited about the project, but funding the actual boots on the ground is not as high a priority”.
As for the projects HTA was approved funding for, the 1A Funds have helped them implement Phase I of their Trail Smart Sizing initiative ($43,400); make improvements to a 2-mile section of the East Shore Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park ($51,300) which will begin in September, with major volunteer participation on National Public Lands Day; work with the BLM on non-motorized sections of the Phases and Wolford Mountain trails ($21,950) which is also slated for the fall; and, supports winter 2018-2019 grooming efforts on the Fraser River Trail, the Fraser-to-Granby Trail, and the Creekside, Chainsaw and Zoom Trails ($16,400).
McQuain said she is already planning on submitting grant applications for consideration in the Fall cycle, but knows she will not be the only agency seeking funds for trails. The 15% fund limitation is a “very small piece of the pie” that multiple applicants are vying for. In the Spring cycle, a total of eight grant applications were submitted for the Trails category, where only three were submitted for Lands and Rivers.
The only way the County can change the 15% cap, which was adopted in the initial Resolution and Bylaws, would be to put an Amendment to 1A out to a vote during the November election.
While HTA is actively seeking funding sources for their General Operating expenses, they recognize the value of the OLRT funds and appreciate the efforts of the OLRTAC for their thorough and diligent analyses of all grant applications. “With the number of natural resources we have in Grand County, these funds really can make a difference”, said McQuain.
To learn more about HTA, visit their website: headwaterstrails.org.