Steamboat Springs, CO – The Yampa Valley Community Foundation announced the fourth-year granting results from the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund (TMEF). Five grants totaling $14,234.29 will be awarded to three local land managers.

Decisions on how to spend TMEF revenue are made by a board comprised of four land managers, one representative from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and two community members at large. Trail maintenance grant applications are requested and received annually in September. This year, the board vetted six grant applications from the US Forest Service, City of Steamboat Springs, Moffat County, and the Bureau of Land Management.

The TMEF board granted $10,000 to the US Forest Service to hire one full-time seasonal employee to complete area trail maintenance projects based on USFS prioritization and popularity of trails.  The local district includes over 450 miles of trails.  The priorities will begin in spring to remove downed trees from high-use trails and trails that are heavily impacted by beetle kill.  Once access has been opened for the season, the position will focus on deferred maintenance projects.  This position will also work closely with local volunteer groups to maximize these efforts.  This full-time seasonal employee is in addition to positions hired based on the 2020 USFS budget.

The TMEF board awarded $1,814.29 to Moffat County for materials for a bridge replacement on the Kiwanis Trail located at Loudy-Simpson Park near the City of Craig. This trail is primarily used for hiking and running.  The trail was relocated due to erosion along the Yampa River that forced the removal of a bridge.  The new section of the trail crosses an overflow spillway for a pond and is currently inaccessible during periods of high water.  The grant will pay for the materials, and volunteers from the local Kiwanis club will build the bridge.  Moffat County will provide the gravel needed to complete the project.  The bridge will provide greater wheelchair and stroller access to the trail.

The City of Steamboat Springs will receive grants for three projects on the Yampa River Core Trail, Prayer Flag Trail and Spring Creek Loop, all located on City property. An $800 grant will provide materials for repairs to the soft surface trail parallel to the Core Trail starting near Rich Weiss Park. City staff has identified this section of trail to bring back to original trail standards, as a well-established and maintained 3 ft. wide soft-surface trail, allowing better access for trail users. The Core Trail is Steamboat’s most popular and heavily-used trail, and the parallel soft surface is a favorite for runners and hikers.

Two additional trails, Prayer Flag Trail and Spring Creek Loop, are each allocated $810 to cover the cost of a mini-excavator rental for one week.  The current Prayer Flag Trail was built unsustainably as a fall-line trail through a meadow. The tread has badly eroded and cupped, making it impassable for trail users. The City’s Open Space and Trails crew plans to re-route this trail in 2020. The re-route will be built following the contour lines of the hill and will move mostly out of the meadow to the forested area of the hillside. The crew will utilize a mini-excavator, and a Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crew will help with the finish work.

The Spring Creek Pond Loop trail re-route is a City of Steamboat Springs priority for 2020 because the loop is no longer accessible for trail users due to the Spring Creek Dam construction project this past fall. The goal is to create a re-routed “lollipop loop” to extend the trail and give users a better trail experience.  The City Trails and Open Space crew will work with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to complete this project.

TMEF grants will be distributed by the end of 2019. The USFS and the City of Steamboat Springs will determine whether to use a contracted entity or internal crews to perform the requested trail maintenance projects.

The purpose of the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund, held by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, is to provide a permanent endowment to support specific non-motorized trail and trailhead maintenance projects on public lands in Routt and Moffat counties. The TMEF fundraising goal is $1 million to $1.5 million by 2026. This would provide approximately $60,000 for trail maintenance projects each year. As of November 27th, 2019, the fund had a balance of $543,149.13.

The TMEF board meets every October to review grant applications and make recommendations for the Yampa Valley Community Foundation Board of Trustees to approve in November. The amount distributed is based on the endowment spending policy set by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.

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Prayer Flag Trail Will receive funding from a TMEF grant