Land Use: Celebrating another Victory
Tabeguache Trail Opens near Grand Junction, Colorado.
Originally published in Issue 23 of 4Low Magazine
It took over 30 years for a 1/3 mile connector trail that allows full-sized vehicles, ATV’s and motorcycles to follow the Tabeguache Trail from the Bangs Canyon Trailhead near Grand Junction to Montrose, Colorado.
“Thanks to strong partnerships, motorized trail users have a safe and legal location to cross the highway and continue to access public lands between Grand Junction and Montrose,” said Katie Stevens, Grand Junction Field Manager.
BLM, Grand Mesa Jeep Club, Mesa County, Western Slope ATV, and Grand Valley Trails Alliance, with support from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado Department of Transportation, worked together on this multi-year project to improve and expand OHV opportunities in western Colorado.
By best accounts, in the early 1980’s, trail riders drove through the private property. When the landowner passed, the heirs started locking the gate when they deemed traffic got to be too much to deal with. Coming to that closed and locked gate meant a 17 mile trek back to Little Park Road unless you could convince the landowner to open the gate. The gate generally got opened, but not without a thorough scolding first.
During the 1980’s, enough people asked BLM for a connection, that by the time the 1987 Resource Management Plan was written, the BLM was mandated to find a new route to connect the existing route to Highway 141. Twenty years later, the BLM was working with Responsible Recreation on a new route, the route chosen was plagued by too many impact issues and was abandoned. Soon after, an easement was obtained from a local land owner, but this route was too steep to make a sustainable trail. By 2013, the Grand Mesa Jeep Club started pushing for the connection again, and by 2015 a connector concept was approved. The connector was put in by October of 2015, but the trail emptied out on to Highway 141 and not at a crossing. CDOT did not approve the access to the Highway.
Late in the fall of 2015, Grand Mesa Jeep Club put in for a grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife for $112,300 dollars based on estimates provided by Mesa County. Early in 2016, the club was awarded the grant. A change in the rules for receiving the grant forced the club to transfer the grant directly to the BLM. The BLM was able to get the contracts through and get a contractor to finish the project in the fall of 2018. The Tabeguache Connector Trail is officially open.
Congrats on a job well done to all involved.