Eagle County trail gets $2 million infusion | VailDaily.com

Eagle County trail gets $2 million infusion

WOLCOTT — Eagle County is six miles and $2 million closer to completing the Eagle Valley Trail.

Great Outdoors Colorado awarded a $2 million grant to Eagle County to construct 6.5 miles of the Eagle Valley Trail, connecting the town of Eagle with Horn Ranch Open Space west of Wolcott.

The GOCO board made the announcement Friday during a meeting in Carbondale.

The GOCO money will be matched by $200,000 from the town of Eagle, and $4.8 million from Eagle County's ECO transit and trails fund.

Colorado the Beautiful

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The grant was one of the first ever Connect Initiative grants awarded by GOCO.

Gov. John Hickenlooper named the entire Eagle Valley Trail a Colorado the Beautiful: 16 in 2016 trail, making it one of the state's highest priority trail projects.

"We want to make sure these trails are an interconnected trail system that is the model of the world. It makes the Colorado Rockies the international destination for people who want to live outdoors," Hickenlooper said.

The GOCO staff and board implemented the Connect Initiative grant program to award $30 million to trails projects throughout the state over the next four years, said Ellie Caryl, ECO Trails program director.

"We are lucky to be their first-cycle top-scoring application," Caryl said proudly.

Caryl said construction will begin next year. The trail is scheduled top open in June 2018.

"This is a big one for Eagle County," she said.

Eagle County's trail system planning has been in the works for 20 years on a "pay as you go" basis, mostly with local funding.

This 6.5 mile section will run from Nogal Gulch Road on the west side of Eagle to the Horn Ranch open space just west of Wolcott. It will complete nearly half of the remaining 17 miles of the Eagle Valley Trail left to build.

"This is a new beginning," Caryl said. "We fully intend to complete this, and fast."

Partners in fun

Eagle County and its partners have worked since 1996 to build a hard surface trail connecting the Eagle River Valley to Glenwood Canyon, Summit County, and the Rio Grande Trail in Garfield and Pitkin counties.

The long-range goal is for the 63-mile Eagle Valley Trail to be part of nearly 193 miles of continuous paved trail for walkers, bikers, and other recreationists in the intermountain region.

Hickenlooper's "16 in 2016" trails identified the 16 most important trail gaps, missing trail segments and unbuilt trails reaching from the Front Range to southwestern Colorado.

Partners in fun

"This project would not have gotten to his point without all our partners," Caryl said.

She said those partners are:

Town of Eagle

RED Development

Merv Lapin and his partners

Eagle County school district

Bureau of Land Management

Colorado Department of Transportation

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Eagle County's open space advisory committee

Eagle Valley Land Trust

Department of Natural Resources

Federal Highways Administration

Union Pacific Railroad

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who created the Colorado Beautiful Initiative

Eagle County's ECO Transit and Trails

Great Outdoors Colorado

Millions of dollars locally

To date, GOCO has invested $18.3 million in Eagle County, preserving more than 4,500 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported Sylvan State Park, Eagle Information Center's boat ramp, and the Eagle Valley Trail.

Eagle County was also named a GOCO Inspire community and will be part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.