Taking the Plunge: Board OKs trail grant

A grant for more than $1.2 million will help complete what’s anticipated will become an iconic mountain bike trail in Mesa County.

A second grant will help the City of Grand Junction develop a parks and recreation master plan.

The Great Outdoors Colorado board approved two grants worth a total of nearly $1.3 million for projects in Mesa County. The board approved a connect initiative grant for $1.238,500 for the Palisade Plunge and a planning grant for $56,250 for the City of Grand Junction.

Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese hailed the grant for the Palisade Plunge, which she described as “a world-class mountain bike trail in the making.”

Once completed, the Palisade Plunge will extend nearly 34 miles and drop 6,000 feet from the top of the Grand Mesa to the Colorado River in Palisade.

While it’s designed with mountain bikers in mind, the trail will run both ways and offer hiking and other forms of non-motorized recreation. With access from downtown Palisade, the trail could also host students, artists and other visitors for a variety of activities. The trail also will link users to the Colorado Riverfront Trail, Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Lunch Loop trail network, bike trails in Fruita and the Colorado National Monument.

Construction of the first phase of the trail began earlier this year. A grand opening is scheduled for October 2020 after the second phase is complete. Project partners include local businesses and governments as well as Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.

“We are proud of our community for coming together with local, state and federal agencies to support outdoor recreation and growing economic development on the east end of Mesa County,” Pugliese said.

With the planning grant, the City of Grand Junction will develop a master plan for parks, recreation and open space. As well as focusing on an increase in park use and recreation, the city expects to explore connectivity, equity, level of service and partnerships through the planning process. Planners will assess gaps in park and recreation access and amenities and identify potential solutions.

“The City of Grand Junction is immensely grateful and proud to earn this GOCO planning grant,” said Ken Sherbenou, parks and recreation director. “The strength and sustainability of our parks and recreation system is dependent on our ability to effectively plan for the future, a future where we intend to have a high quality of life. This grant enables the creation of the blueprint for that future.”