Earlier this summer, Ridgway State Park received an award of $70,000.00 in construction grant money from the Colorado State Parks System for further development of the RAT system. On August 7, 2014 Rodney and Gordon from RAT, along with Scott Vanderplaats and Amy Sharp, met with Kirstin Copeland of Ridgway State Park and Julie Jackson of the BLM to discuss future construction efforts. Although Ridgway State Park has the money locked up, they can not spend it immediately. The Park must first work up a competitive bid proposal and then put the proposal out for bidding by various contractors. Due to administrative requirements of the State Park System, that process will not be completed in time to get construction crews on the ground this year.
Although BLM and RAT/COPMOBA could possibly fund additional construction efforts this summer, supervision will not be available until October, after the hunting season starts. As a result, it presently seems unlikely that we will have an opportunity to grow the RAT system any more before next spring. On a more encouraging note, Kirstin believes the Park will likely be able to complete the remaining 4 miles of single track with the $70,000.00 construction Grant. BLM plans to bring back Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado for another exciting weekend of work very early in May 2015, so next spring and summer should bring further, exponential trail construction.
Amy Sharp, whom RAT has hired to write a State Parks and Trails Grant, informed us that our grant looks very solid and positive for a successful outcome. COPMOBA received about $10,000.00 in funding from the same source for biological and other EA studies incorporated into the BLM’s Environmental Assessment of the RAT system in 2011, which is a big advantage for our organization on this round of grant funding. Amy, a former BLM rec planner who was instrumental in getting our system through the BLM approval process, wrote the earlier, successful grant. Our current grant will seek the full $200,000.00 available per grant under this program. Amy presented preliminary budget figures on August 7th and it appears that completion of our system, including trail head facilities with parking, toilets, picnic areas, signs, etc… will cost upwards of $400,000.00, meaning we will not likely complete all phases of construction until 2016 or 2017. However, whatever money we receive from the pending grant request will be spent primarily on trail construction, as opposed to infrastructures, so we can get as much tread in the dirt as possible for 2015.
BLM, State Park, RAT and the Town of Ridgway have also begun cooperative efforts to secure sufficient grant money to prepare and engineering study and design for either an overpass or underpass crossing U.S. 550 at or near the Dallas Creek Day Use Area of Ridgway State Park. The plan is to obtain sufficient early funding that we can seek construction grant money for use in 2017.