Gypsum trails network survey shows strong support for town-sponsored program | VailDaily.com

Gypsum trails network survey shows strong support for town-sponsored program

This map shows both the planning areas and location proposals for the town of Gypsum's anticipated trails plan.

GYPSUM — As Gypsum contemplates creation of a community trails network, a number of residents have weighed in on what they want included.

Earlier this summer, Gypsum launched a community survey regarding a trails program. The survey was sent to a database of interest parings, people who had attended open house events regarding the subject, members of various identified user groups, a database compiled by the Gypsum Recreation Center and a town-identified database. In total, 315 competed surveys were returned by the July 1 deadline.

Consultant Amy Cassidy has shared the survey information with members of the Gypsum Town Council, noting that nearly two-thirds of the respondents have resided in Gypsum for 10 or more years. Nearly 70 percent of the respondents were between the ages of 35 and 54 years.

When asked to identify their trail interests, more than 60 percent of the respondents said they were mountain bikers. Nearly 60 percent said they were hikers. Off-highway vehicle and motocross riders were the next highest at nearly 30 percent each.

Nearly half of the survey respondents said they used local soft trails one to three days per week, and approximately 25 percent said they use local soft trails four to six days a week.

What they want

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When asked what they would like to see happen in the Hardscrabble Planning Area, survey respondents cited links and access as their top priorities. More multi-use trails were also a priority, along with trails separated by use, signs and maps and parking.

Cassidy noted there were also 104 written comments submitted as part of the survey and said 89 of those were "supportive" in nature. She said they related to issues such as quality of life and economic development. Cassidy said survey responses also supported increased camping opportunities, more community engagement in the process and trail connections.

Fifteen survey comments expressed concerns about noise, dust, trail damage, trespassing, safety, trail sharing, conflicts with hinting, wildlife concerns and under service and lost access for the off-highway vehicle community. Additional concerns were cited about spending tax dollars on a trails program.

What happens from here

The next steps for Gypsum's trails effort includes the designation of trailhead and access areas, as well as defining trail alignments. The development of parking areas, trail facilities and signs must also be addressed.

The town will continue to work with private landowners in affected areas and start conversations with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to develop its trails plan in conjunction with planning for nearby public lands.

And, naturally, the town will have to decide how much money it will allocate to the trails program.

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