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GarCo confirms $200k commitment to Red Hill

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A collaborative effort among multiple community stakeholders will result in three new trails and safer trail access at the Red Hill Recreation Area.

The partnership between the Town of Carbondale and the Carbondale-based Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT) started with an effort to acquire and permanently protect a 25-acre parcel of land at the base of Red Hill.

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The Garfield County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 21 unanimously approved a $200,000 disbursement from the county’s Conservation Trust Fund. That contribution closes another chapter in the Red Hill Trail Project.

Garfield County commissioners, in January 2018, tentatively committed $200,000 for the property acquisition. However, the funding was contingent based on the state providing funding from the Lottery to the Conservation Trust Fund this year.

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The area, at the junction of County Road 107 (CR-107) and State Highway 82 (SH-82), with its red-rock face is the focal point when you enter and leave the town of Carbondale. Suzanne Stephens, executive director of AVLT, says, “People didn’t want to see development at the bottom of the hill.”

Two of the three trails are completed. The first is a hiker-specific trail, for foot traffic only. This trail is named “Ruthie’s Run” in honor of Ruth Brown.

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The second is a shared-use trail, for hikers and bikers. The third trail is bike-use only. It is a down track directional biking trail, now partially completed at 972 linear feet. The remaining 1,772 feet is scheduled to be completed by Singletrack Trails, a trail construction company based out of Fort Collins, in March and April, depending on weather conditions.

DHM Design’s Carbondale office was brought on to handle public outreach locally and some of those ensuing outreach results.

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Eric Brendlinger, Parks and Recreation Director for the Town of Carbondale, said a meeting was held in late December 2018 with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Red Hill Council, DHM Design, and AVLT to devise a work plan for signage.

The new trails butt up against BLM land. The plan, if everything goes accordingly weather-wise, is for final trail completion in April.

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Brendlinger said when all the trails are done the BLM and the Red Hill Council will “make sure that people understand that that historical trailhead is going to be gone.”

Access to all trails in the area will be from the new trailhead. Signage will go up in February to direct people towards that trail usage.

Another project goal is to reducing user conflicts between vehicle and bike/pedestrian traffic on CR-107.

This will be accomplished by moving pedestrian traffic off of CR-107. The trailhead is being moved down the hill and the straightening of CR-107 will allow access to a new parking area on the west side of CR-107.

Carbondale Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman says they are finalizing the design and upon completion it will be submitted to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for approval because they are responsible for the intersection of CR-107 and SH-82.

Schorzman said the plan is for Garfield County to do the work of realigning the road. He explains, “If the County and the Town worked together on it, we could probably do it cheaper than we could do it with a contractor.”

Road work will begin depending on how it fits into the work schedule for the County.

When asked about the possibility of traffic delays during construction, Schorzman says, “What we’re trying to do is design it in a way where there might be some delays, but not from the perspective of having to fully close off the road.” He adds, “There may be delays, but not closures.”

When that time comes, meetings will be set up with area residents for input.

The successful 1.35 mil capital campaign for land acquisition and trail, road, and parking lot construction came from a variety of sources, including the $200,000 from Garfield County, $350,000 from AVLT, $200,000 from the Ruth H. Brown Foundation, $100,000 from the Alpenglow Foundation, $100,000 from Abigail Wexner, $200,000 from additional private donations, $150,000 from Pitkin County, and $50,000 from the town of Carbondale.

The $350,000 from AVLT came from their River Valley Ranch (RVR) transfer fee fund. Every lot sale in RVR has a 1/4 of a percent transfer fee dedicated to open space preservation within seven miles of Carbondale.

The $300,000 in private donations was comprised of about 350 donations from individuals from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. It was raised between October 2017 and February 2018. As Stephens describes the community’s enthusiasm of contributing to the cause, she says, “Everyone could see the value in it.”

Stephens says about the success of the project to date, “I think it’s been brilliant. It’s a great partnership with the community and the town and you couldn’t ask for more.”

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