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Gunnison Bluffs

Location

Grand Junction, Colorado

The Gunnison Bluffs trail area is a beginner friendly trail system on the southern edge of Grand Junction in Colorado. Much of the attention for the region has been spent planning and promoting other high level trail systems around the city and the Gunnison Bluffs trails have been often overlooked. However the area should be considered a valuable area nonetheless, especially as it provides some of the only beginner friendly trails within riding distance of the City, as well as its proximity to schools and middle and lower income neighborhoods. Because of all these reasons Mesa County Public Health has undertaken a planning and design effort to fully establish the Gunnison Bluffs trails as one of the well developed trail areas in the Grand Junction area, and build it into a great resource for local beginner and intermediate users as well as after school riding clubs and racing teams.

The project has many facets, some from terrain and others from historical management. The area is crisscrossed by social trails many of which are unsustainably steep and erosive. The area is also a patchwork of ownership, the majority of which is BLM or county land but important access is crossing private land parcels. Finally the Old Spanish Trail traverses the system, a congressionally appointed historical trail with easements for the private land portions.

The Pointe Strategies team began the project by defining project goals and objectives, laying out a roadmap of steps needed to achieve them. A trail inventory was completed using management trails databases, satellite imagery, and on the ground surveying to provide the necessary data of all trails existing in the planning area and their legality and management designations. The team then completed a Sustainability Analysis using lidar terrain models to quantify important trail durability factors. This model shows details such as trail grade, cross slope, drainage crossings and much more.

The team also conducted public outreach conducting trailhead pop-up events, meeting with local user club meetings, as well as after school teams and local trail advocacy nonprofits.

Pointe Strategies then began the trail planning and design process taking into account all of these factors, integrating public input, trail sustainability, user needs, and private land interests, the team created a draft trails plan that strikes a balance between these factors and establishes a best plan forward. All of these steps and details are also presented in a draft project report.

As this project takes place primarily on public land, the next step is to conduct resource surveys. The team is partnering with experts who will analyze the draft plan and survey for biological and cultural resources in the area. Finally the draft plan will be integrated with the resource surveys making any necessary adjustments or amendments before completing the final NEPA analysis, Trails Plan, and Master Plan Report.

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