A decade of work pays off

The Daily Sentinel, June 15, 2022—The recent news that Great Outdoors Colorado has awarded $500,000 to complete phase two of the Monument Connector Trail is a major win for the community.

The 1.5-mile trail will go from the Lunch Loops trail head to the Jurassic Flats trail head off South Camp Road, according to reporting by The Daily Sentinel’s Sam Klomhaus.

“It’s going to connect a lot of the most important outdoor spaces we have,” Parks and Recreation Director Ken Sherbenou said. The project’s design phase is scheduled to happen early next year, with construction of the 10-foot-wide trail set to finish in mid-2023, Sherbenou said.

This latest grant means the project is almost completely funded and in a year or so you’ll be able to bike from the Riverfront Trail up past the Lunch Loops, down South Camp Road and eventually back to the Audubon Trail completing a 10-mile Redlands Loop without having to ride on the road.

“This was the only gap in that 10-mile loop that was missing, and people were forced onto Monument Road,” Sherbenou said.

It’s not only the loop connection that makes this a big deal. With the Lunch Loops’ increasing popularity, this path will give the many people living in Redlands communities west of the trail head another way to access the trails without driving. This will alleviate some of the pressure on the parking at the Lunch Loops.

This new trail sounds like it will be a fun ride in its own right, as it will weave away from Monument Road and more into nature, increasing accessibility to some of the natural features in the area.

There are many individuals and organizations who deserve praise for getting this important trail connection so close to completion. First and foremost is the Colorado West Land Trust, which has been working for more than a decade to preserve land in this area for this trail.

The Land Trust began with the purchase of the Three Sisters property in 2012 and then went through a public outreach process with the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County to hear from the community about what it wanted to see in this area.

The result was clear: people wanted more trails and more connectivity.

Working in the years since, the Land Trust has acquired the necessary rights of way for this trail to be built. That could not have been done without the funding from local donors, charitable foundations, the city and county, as well as large investments from GOCO.

GOCO, as we see with the recent grant announcement, has been an incredibly important partner in completing this project for the community. Its continued investment into our community, both for this trail and elsewhere, has a huge positive impact.

The city should also be commended for stepping up its leadership role for the latest phase of the trail. A decade ago, while the city was involved, it wasn’t the driving force it has become for this project. They’ve really made this a priority and we’re happy they have.

Finally, the community who came out and advocated for this trail over the years needs to be thanked as well. The community has really embraced and pushed this idea forward over the years. It would not be where it is now without that community support.

We’re hopeful that this process will be used as a model going forward to protect important corridors for public use and provide connectivity between trail systems and the city itself.

Read the original article in The Daily Sentinel: A decade of work pays off | Editorials | gjsentinel.com

Photo by Robb Reece Photography.