Eagle Valley Trail may be complete by the end of 2024
But there's still a lot of money to raise to finish the project
After years of planning and work, the end may be in sight for completing the Eagle Valley Trail the length of the Eagle River Valley.
The long-envisioned project, which will eventually link Eagle, Summit, Garfield and Pitkin counties, received a serious boost in 2021 when the Eagle County Commissioners sold $22 million in certificates of participation — a form of government debt not subject to voter approval — to finance a big part of the last miles of the trail.
- $38 million: Estimated cost of finishing the Eagle Valley Trail.
- $22 million: County-issued certificates of participation for the trail.
- $435,000: 2023 pledge total from Vail Valley towns and metro districts.
- 140 miles: Length of eventually linked trails in Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties.
There are already results from that funding. Someone in Edwards can now take a trail nearly all the way to Breckenridge. Someone in Eagle can get on a trail and ride to Aspen.
Still, there’s a roughly $16 million funding gap.
Today, the trail is in place, except for a difficult section between Edwards and Wolcott, as well as a trail spur from EagleVail into Minturn. To raise the remaining funds to complete the job, the county has hired fundraising consultant Robin Thompson. Thompson briefed the commissioners Tuesday on progress so far, as well as continuing efforts.
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Including the county’s funding, the effort so far has received about $25.6 million in funding.
Thompson told the commissioners that instead of just firing off grant applications willy-nilly, the effort is more targeted.
Eagle Valley Trail campaign committee member Kevin Sharkey told the commissioners those grant applications include one to Great Outdoors Colorado. There’s also an application to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Other grant requests have been made to various potential philanthropic and corporate organizations. Thompson said several requests were made last year to organizations that had already set their next year’s funding. A number of those organizations asked the county to re-apply for the next round of funding.
Connections are important in the foundation world. Thompson said she and others on the trail committee are working to talk with potential individual donors. Plans also include naming rights for benches, picnic tables, and other facilities.
“We’re trying to find connections beyond just sending out applications,” Thompson said. “A lot of people who give will refer you to others.”
The public will also be asked to contribute to the effort. Although research shows that the portion of the funding should be limited to about $3 million.
Thompson said the effort needs to raise between 70% and 80% of the total before going to the public. That effort is now close to 70%, she said. So the project has been broken down into six “pillars” of use: Addressing climate change; equity; economic impact; quality of place, defined as safety; and sustainable tourism.
Safety was the topic of the end-of-the-year campaign for 2022.
The effort includes a website, as well as information included in the tax notices recently sent to all county property owners.
While fundraising continues, there is funded work set to be completed this year. The EagleVail to Minturn connection will be completed this year. And, Sharkey said, the Wolcott to Edwards section could be complete by the end of 2024.