Vail Daily column: Go for a ride on conserved lands
Go for a ride! Friday is National Go for a Ride Day. The day encourages you to “get out into the world — hop on your bike, jump in your car or simply get out your walking boots and go on a trip. Don’t worry too much about where you’re going, just enjoy the journey!” Regardless of your mode of transportation, I encourage you to participate Friday, “go for a ride,” and enjoy our beautiful mountain landscapes.
Weather permitting, you might consider going for a ride on your mountain bike on the West Avon Preserve, one of our community’s newest conservation easements. This open space has some great public trails and is a perfect example of balancing local land conservation with outdoor recreation. We all understand that open spaces and natural places in our community are important to our quality of life. We know that our land should be conserved and protected forever. But we also rightly value our outdoor recreational opportunities and our world-class trails. And, as everyone knows, both conservation and recreation help to drive our local economy by bringing guests and their dollars to town. Providing recreational access on conserved lands is one of many conservation goals. Natural places like the West Avon Preserve are a perfect match in that balance between conservation and recreation.
The Land Trust is proud to partner with the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association and the town of Avon to strike that balance. The association is a grassroots group of dedicated local riders who love their sport and are passionate about opportunities for enhanced outdoor recreation. They are also good stewards of the land who respect our landscapes and meticulously maintain local trails. The association has spent countless volunteer hours at the West Avon Preserve conservation easement achieving that balance between conservation and open space, and trails and recreation. They have hand-built some awesome trails and have plans for more. It is exciting to see what we can all do together to conserve the important open spaces and landscapes at the West Avon Preserve, while also providing recreational opportunities like mountain-bike trails for the people of our community. Get out Friday on Go for a Ride Day and check out the association’s wonderful work at the West Avon Preserve conservation area.
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At the town of Eagle, another conservation partner with the Land Trust, they are also having great success balancing open space, conservation and recreation. Open Space Director John Staight has created world-class trail systems in Eagle, providing some great rides with breathtakingly beautiful showcases of our alpine landscape as the backdrop. These open space and recreation efforts have paid off, not just for access and enjoyment, but also economically by luring the Colorado High School League Championships to town which spurred an increase in business and sales tax revenue this offseason. Eagle, the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association and other groups are even working on securing national Ride Center status from the International Mountain Bike Association for further economic impact. Maybe Friday during Go for a Ride Day you will choose to test your skills on the Haymaker Trail in Eagle. Are you a better rider than a high schooler?
In addition to the trails in the town of Eagle or at the West Avon Preserve, you could also “go for a ride” on one of the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s other permanently protected conservation easements. Many of these conserved open spaces also allow for public access and are fantastic natural spaces to experience and enjoy. You might use National Go for a Ride Day to explore the Miller Ranch Open Space, the Duck Pond River Access, the Eagle River Preserve or the Homestead “L,” all of which are conserved forever in their natural state and open to the public. You can view all local conservation easements at http://www.evlt.org/land.
Balancing our community goals of land conservation and open space protection with those of public access and world-class recreational opportunities is not always easy, but your local Land Trust is working every day to strike that balance. And we are excited that we have partners in local government, and partners like the dedicated folks at the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association, to assist us. So now, get out there and … go for a ride!
Jason Denhart is the director of communications and development for the Eagle Valley Land Trust. For more information about the work of the land trust, visit http://www.evlt.org. For more information regarding the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association, visit http://www.vvmba.org.