Gypsum plans Hardscrabble trail sign installation | VailDaily.com

Gypsum plans Hardscrabble trail sign installation

GYPSUM — In 2018, it won't be as easy to get lost on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property south of Gypsum.

And that's a good thing.

Last year, the town launched work on a trail-planning effort for the Hardscrabble area that included community outreach and grant applications. As a result of those efforts, Gypsum learned that trail users identified increased signage and adjacent landowners identified gate conflicts as top priorities. The town subsequently applied for grants from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to address these issues, and while only one of the applications was successful, both of the priorities will be tackled this summer.

During a presentation before the Gypsum Town Council on Tuesday night, April 10, consultant Amy Cassidy noted the town budgeted $123,530 for its initial trails work. That money included nearly $70,000 for new cattle guards in the Hardscrabble planning area. But Colorado Parks and Wildlife agreed to fund that project.

"They normally fund projects to address conflicts between livestock and wildlife," Cassidy said, noting that this effort accomplishes that goal, with the added benefit of also assisting recreational users.

However, the town was not successful with its grant request for signage — trailhead kiosks, you-are-here signs and directional posts — in the Hardscrabble area. But by reallocating the money set aside for the cattle guards, Cassidy noted the town can fund the signs program and still come in under budget for its 2018 trails improvements. That idea had strong support from Gypsum council members.

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"The No. 1 thing that people have come to me about is the signs," said Gypsum Town Council member Chris Estes.

Volunteer interest

Cassidy said the program has generated a lot of interest in the community.

"It's pretty impressive the number of people who have contacted me who are interested in helping with this," she said.

That list of volunteers includes the Hardscrabble Trail Coalition and local ranch operations. She shared photos from one of the cattle guard projects to demonstrate how the project improved the trails for all user groups — ranchers, mountain bikers and motorists.

And as volunteers work to designate approved trails with signs, Cassidy noted one of their jobs will call for some creativity.

"We have a number of unnamed trails that need to be named. I believe they should be named by the people who use them the most," Cassidy said.