Building Community Through Access to the Outdoors
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
“Colorado West Land Trust’s purchase of the Three Sisters and other lands for trail expansion [along Monument Road] provides a family friendly place where my son and others can be outside near the city and ride their bikes.”
— Aaron Young, a local business owner and property developer in Grand Junction.
If trail use and community generosity are any indication, open space along the Monument Corridor is one of the Grand Valley’s most appreciated assets.Located just a few miles from downtown Grand Junction, the Lunch Loop trail system is the most popular trail network in the Grand Valley, experiencing 120,000 visits annually. And there’s no wondering why—Colorado National Monument towers above the trails, which weave through rolling hills of grassland, sagebrush and cedar trees, often hugging the rim of low-lying sandstone cliffs.In recognition of the area’s immense public benefit, Colorado West Land Trust (CWLT) has worked alongside a host of community partners since 2012 to expand access to the Monument Corridor. “We asked people what they wanted the corridor to look like,” explained Libby Collins, CWLT project manager. Residents requested access the Lunch Loop area via an off-road bike path, additional trails, and the preservation of scenic open space.Since the first community meeting, Colorado West Land Trust has worked to realize this vision. When land along Monument Road went up for sale, locally known as the Three Sisters and Bookend properties, the Land Trust led a grassroots effort to raise nearly $2.3 million to purchase, conserve, and then deed the property to the City for management. Later, an additional $2.5 million was raised to construct a paved connector trail and trailhead improvements so that people of all ages, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds may enjoy the Lunch Loop area.
Thanks to immense public support and the Land Trust’s many project partners, the connector trail is currently under construction with plans for trailhead enhancement work to begin soon. Colorado West Land Trust then looks forward to collaborating with youth and volunteer community members to revegetate and steward the area to maintain its natural beauty. “The community really benefits when outdoor access is close to home,” said Libby. “Community participation in grassroots fundraising and volunteer projects has helped us form a group of outdoor enthusiasts who value land conservation as a tool to encourage time outdoors, preserve landscapes, protect wildlife habitat and native plants, and benefit the local economy. Colorado West Land Trust is equipped to do all these things, and is committed to ensuring a connection to land on the Western Slope for generations to come.”