Steamboat Springs, CO – For the fifth consecutive year, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation has announced issuing grants from the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund (TMEF). The fund will provide three grants totaling $19,300 to three local land managers.
Decisions are made on how to spend TMEF revenue 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 due in September. This year, the board vetted four grant applications from the U.S. Forest Service, City of Steamboat Springs, Pearl Lake State Park, and Stagecoach State Park.
The TMEF board awarded $5,400 to Pearl Lake State Park to convert a heavily used social trail, or user-created trail, located next to the extremely busy boat ramp parking into an established trail. The new trail will connect the boat ramp with the new area used for paddleboarding. The connectivity will allow users to easily access either boat launch area no matter where they have parked. The plan will be to move more visitors to additional day-use parking. The number of visitors to Pearl Lake from August 2019 to August 2020 increased by 65%. The current social trail is located right at the lake’s edge, along a steep hillside, and is subject to erosion due to the location next to the lake and heavy use. Widening of the trail will accommodate multiple users and be supported with rock to protect the lake’s health and steep hill sections from erosion.
Combined with a significant increase in trail use and severe drought, the NPR downhill mountain bike trail located on Emerald Mountain sustained significant damage this summer. The City of Steamboat Springs will receive a grant for $4,000 for maintenance and repairs on NPR to restore the trail. There are photos of the trail damage available here.
The TMEF board granted $9,500 to the U.S. Forest Service to hire one full-time, seasonal employee to complete area trail maintenance projects based on USFS prioritization and popularity of trails. This crew member will focus on the Buffalo Pass Area and, in addition to trail maintenance work, will assist with enforcement. 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 2021 USFS budget.
Stagecoach State Park requested $19,300 for maintenance and repairs of 8-miles of trails surrounding the lake. The project was not funded this year, but the grantee was encouraged to apply in future years.
TMEF grants will be distributed by the end of 2020. The USFS and the City of Steamboat Springs will determine whether to use a contracted entity or internal crews to perform the 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, the fund had a balance of $739,918.34.
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.