Grant to help close gap in trail systems

A trail is expected to open in June 2019 connecting the Colorado Riverfront Trail and downtown Grand Junction to the popular Lunch Loop and Three Sisters trail systems.

The Great Outdoors Colorado Board approved a grant worth more than $1.5 million to fund the effort.

The 1.5-mile, paved trail will close a gap in the trail systems in the Grand Valley, allowing people to access 75 miles of single track trails in the Lunch Loop and Three Sisters areas near the Colorado National Monument. Those areas, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, receive more than 120,000 visits a year, making them the among the most popular in Mesa County. The Riverfront Trail attracts about 75,000 users annually.

The grant was part of $8.9 million in funding Great Outdoors Colorado awarded through its Connect Initiative to close gaps in trail networks and improve access to recreational opportunities across Colorado. A total of 6.5 miles of trails will be constructed as part of five projects and leverage more than $11 million in matching funding. Over a four-year period, the initiative will provide $28.4 million in funding.

In Mesa County, the latest GOCO grant brings to $39 million the total amount of funding invested in local projects. That includes a $675,000 grant that helped the Mesa Land Trust purchase the 130-acre parcel known as Three Sisters for the three hills that rise up in front of the Colorado National Monument.

Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of proceeds from the Colorado Lottery to preserve and improve open spaces, parks,  rivers, trails and wildlife areas in the state. Since 1992, GOCO, has funded a total of more than 5,000 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado.