The Cache la Poudre River Corridor Tuesday received more than $5 million in funding from Great Outdoors Colorado to create an integrated open space, trail and recreation resource.
The GOCO Board has awarded Larimer County and its partners, the cities of Greeley and Fort Collins and the towns of Timnath and Windsor, a $5,098,150 GOCO/Lottery grant for projects along the Poudre River, including trail construction and land acquisitions, that will dramatically increase opportunities for public recreation along the river. The corridor was one of eight projects funded via a special River Corridors Initiative developed by GOCO to foster outdoor recreation and land preservation along Colorado’s rivers, according to Tuesday’s announcement by Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
The Poudre River Corridor and Regional Trail Initiative builds upon existing partnerships, years of prior efforts, and past GOCO grants to move closer to achieving a regional swath of open spaces and connected trails along the river corridor.
“The partners in Northern Colorado put together a well-balanced project that fit the special River Corridors Initiative perfectly,” said Chris Leding of GOCO.
The Poudre River exits Poudre Canyon northwest of Fort Collins and flows southeast to its confluence with the South Platte River east of Greeley. It has been the center of land preservation and trail construction efforts for more than a decade, but significant gaps remain. The latest GOCO grant will help achieve strategic land acquisitions and trail construction, giving the public new opportunities to reach and recreate along the Poudre, including safer, convenient access for additional neighborhoods, schools and recreation centers, according to county officials.
“The public has been anxiously waiting to see the Poudre River Trail finished for nearly three decades,” said Gary Buffington, Director of Larimer County Natural Resources. “This partnership links Larimer and Weld Counties together in so many wonderful ways.”
Components of the Poudre River Trail Corridor Improvement Project include the acquisition of 23 acres of open space in Larimer County and 967 acres in Weld County. All of the land acquisitions are located along the Poudre and will provide direct public access to the river and the Poudre River Trail.
“The increased public access and nearly 1,000 acres of new open space along the Poudre River will be a fantastic community amenity and contribute to the overall quality of life in the area,” said Rebecca Safarik, Assistant City Manager for the City of Greeley.
The project will also result in trail construction that increases connectivity to existing trail segments, and includes a two-mile extension of the Poudre River Trail from the Arapahoe Bend Natural Area to the Timnath Firehouse. The grant will also fund an I-25 overpass for the trail near the Harmony Road exit.
“Getting beyond I-25 is the most significant physical barrier to completing the Poudre River Trail,” said Craig Foreman, Director of Parks Planning and Development at the City of Fort Collins. “Being able to bridge that barrier in a way that will provide year-round trail access to the public brings the Poudre River Trail closer to completion than ever before.”
Following the completion of the Poudre River Corridor and Regional Trail Initiative less than five miles of trail construction will remain to complete the 45-mile paved trail for recreation and commuting along the Poudre River, stretching from Bellvue to Island Grove Park in Greeley.
“Great Outdoors Colorado spends a lot of time out in communities across Colorado and we heard the same themes repeatedly over the last couple of years,” said GOCO Board Member Phil James of Fort Collins. “Coloradans stressed the importance of increased recreational opportunities close to home and the potential of rivers and trails, trails, trails.”
The partners and GOCO are planning a special event to celebrate this momentous achievement with the public sometime in July.