Open spaces a natural fit: Businesses play a role in preservation efforts

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Add another piece to the proverbial jigsaw puzzle under assembly at a popular outdoor recreation area in Grand Junction.

With the purchase of a 16-acre parcel dubbed the Jurassic Flats, the Colorado West Land Trust has preserved more open space along a corridor that offers biking and hiking along with scenic vistas.

Libby Collins

Business owners continue to support the efforts because they recognize the role of outdoor recreation in bolstering the economy and attracting staff, says Libby Collins, project manager for the Colorado West Land Trust. “I think that says a lot having local businesses see how important access to trails and outdoor recreation is and their willingness to support it.”

Using a donation from a local resident, the Colorado West Land Trust purchased the parcel at the corner of Monument and South Camp roads. The City of Grand Junction has leased the parcel as a temporary measure to manage the property as an open space park.

The Colorado West Land Trust will establish a conservation easement precluding development on the property and convey ownership to the city next year.

Collins says she expects the parcel to remain basically unchanged in offering open space and views as well as a place to hike.

But the parcel also joins other parcels the Colorado West Land Trust has purchased as well as other amenities along the Monument Road corridor, she says. That includes the so-called Three Sisters, a 130-acre parcel that at one time had been zoned for high-density residential development as well as two additional parcels with a total of 93 acres dubbed the Bookends.

The parcels are located near the Lunch Loop trailhead on Monument Road. The Lunch Loop system offers a popular venue for mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts as well as runners and those walking their dogs. There’s also a bike park just off the trailhead. By one estimate, the Lunch Loop system accounts for 120,000 user days a year, Collins says. A user day equates to one person participating in a recreational activity at a given location in a 24-hour period.

In addition, work is nearly complete on a 1.5-mile paved trail connecting the Colorado River Trail and Las Colonias Park near downtown Grand Junction to the Three Sisters and  Lunch Loop trails.

Ultimately, the trails will connect with the Redlands Loop Trail to form a continuous, 10-mile loop through the Redlands as well as Connected Lakes State Park. The trails also offer additional access to nearby U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands and the Colorado National Monument.

The Colorado West Land Trust also was involved in a fund-raising campaign to improve the Lunch Loop trailhead, a project that will include shade shelters. That fund-raising goal and other efforts have been achieved in part, Collins says, because of the support of local businesses, including Alpine Bank and REI. The Grand Junction Lions Club also backed the effort.

It’s a logical fit, she says, given the growing role of outdoor recreation in the Grand Valley economy as well as the attracting to new workers to the area. Trails and open spaces also enhance the well-being of a community.

The Lunch Loop is unique, she says, in offering a wildland outdoor experience just minutes away from an urban area. “It’s an incredible resource for the local community.”

For more information about the Colorado West Land Trust, contact Libby Collins at 263-5433 or  libby@cowestlandtrust.org or visit https://cowestlandtrust.org.