Building Trails to a Healthier Community…
Was our motto in 2020. Trails were more important than ever. They provide a much needed escape and improve our physical and mental health. As always we encourage you to get outside, exercise, and enjoy nature. But we did see a huge growth in new trail users in 2020 and it was more important than ever to care for our trails and public lands.
It was a challenging start to the 2020 trail season as it coincided with the height of the pandemic. We were forced to delay the start of our Adopt A Trail and Wildlife Trail Ambassador programs, VVMTA Trail Crew, and it also delayed the start of the Cougar Ridge reroutes. Even with the delayed start we had arguably our most successful year yet.
Minturn Bike Park
Wow, we continued to be blown away by the community support! We broke ground in May and officially opened the bike park on August 29th. Once it opened it was truly incredible to see the amount of kids, families, and people of all ages enjoying it. It was averaging over 1,000 rides per day! We were lucky to have the communities support to build it and spent over $88,000 of our own reserve funds to complete Phase 1 and 2A. The Town of Minturn kicked in $47,000 for Phase 2A and we put the $50,000 we raised from our community in 2019 towards the project. Watch the Minturn Bike Park Community Build Story below to see the work that went into it.
We entered into an official partnership with the Hardscrabble Trails Coalition in 2020, creating a “One Valley-wide Trails Organization.” This allowed us to be more efficient and advocate for trails for our entire community together.
In Eagle we completed the build of the new Hillbilly Trail in May and also built a majority of the new 3 Sisters Trail in the Brush Creek Valley Ranch & Open Space in September. We also supported the Will’s Thrill trail revamp through planning efforts with the BLM, support to the HTC, fundraising, and paying over $3,000 for the rental of a mini excavator. During the pandemic like all other local governments, the Town of Eagle was forced to cut their budgets and seasonal staffing. This meant that their normal seasonal Open Space position was going to be cut. We saw the need for this position to be continue and specifically address mitigation efforts from impacts due to increase trail use. We paid for this positions salary to the Town of Eagle in 2020 which totaled over $4,500.
Cougar Ridge reroutes were finally completed in 2020! The reroutes of Cougar Ridge was a four year project in the making. We rerouted the lower section over two summers mainly in partnership with large volunteer trail work days with the USFS and Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado. The upper reroutes completed this year were too far away for volunteers so we had to acquire the funds to hire a professional trail builder. We applied and secured a grant from the National Forest Foundation, planned the reroutes and got them approved with the USFS, and then let McGill Trails have some fun. The new 1.75 miles of new trail are sustainable, fun, and sooo much better than the old 8′ logging road!
Adopt A Trail and Wildlife Trail Ambassador Programs
Last, but certainly our most important and impactful programs, the AAT and WTA programs continued to make a huge difference for our trails, public lands, and community. The AAT program grew again to 69 teams (53 in 2019) adopting 61 trails (61 trails in 2019). Thank you to the 750 volunteers who got out there and immediately addressed the needed trail maintenance from the impact of additional trail users during the pandemic.
The WTA program was significantly delayed due to the pandemic. Unfortunately the pandemic hit during the height of seasonal wildlife closures and it was hard for volunteers to get out to trailheads and mitigate the increased and new trail users to enter closed trails. However, they still got out there in early June and prevented over 200 trail users from breaking these closures. In addition, we were able to install seven new gates in the West Avon Preserve and new gates in the Town of Eagle to protect wildlife during closures!
We hope to build on our momentum from 2020 and hit the ground running in 2021. To do this we need your support. We plan to:
- Retain, recruit, and train volunteers to care for our trails and public lands
- Hire a new full-time 4-6 person professional Trail Conservation Crew
- Ensure we have the resources to begin planning our next big project and implement new trail systems
- Protect and support wildlife populations
- Educate trail users on proper etiquette and Leave No Trace Principles
- Advocate for local, state, and federal policy that support our trails and community