Dolores awarded trails planning grant

The Town of Dolores is one step closer to more people taking more steps outside, thanks to the recent award of a $19,762 Great Outdoors Colorado Grant.

The grant will go toward planning a trail system in Dolores that will get people outside hiking and biking the area.

"The setting for this trail system in the Dolores River Valley is unique and provides an inviting atmosphere for summer and winter recreation," wrote Town Manager Ryan Mahoney in the grant proposal.

Mahoney said that now the grant has been awarded, the town will hire a trails planner that will work with the town, stakeholders and the community to develop a comprehensive trail plan for Dolores.

Mahoney is hoping to offer a little bit of everything for everyone, from a short, walking loop trail in town, to connector loops that will get bicyclists up to the trail system near Boggy Draw.

"I would really like to create loops within town," Mahoney said.

Mahoney said the planning portion of the grant is necessary before the town can apply for additional grants.

"This is a necessary step before you go back to GOCO and ask for construction money," Mahoney said. "They want to see that there has been forethought in the planning process."

The process for trail planning will likely begin in the spring and Mahoney said the community will likely be invited to a kickoff event, such as a barbecue, to discuss wants and needs for trails in Dolores.

Dolores District Ranger Derek Padilla wrote a letter in favor of the grant.

"This plan will provide the opportunity to connect trails within the community to a regional trail system," he wrote.

The addition of trails, Mahoney said, will help the town as it may bring more people into town and therefore into the local businesses.

"The planning process will allow resident participation and local ownership of the final trails plan. It will lend credibility to community leaders seeking funding for the construction and acquisition of key parcels," Mahoney wrote in the grant proposal.

In the end, "an interconnected trail system, will allow residents and visitors to walk or ride bikes between public amenities on a safe non-motorized trails system," Mahoney wrote.

The existing trail system in Dolores is not connected and at some points abruptly end. This plan will seek to correct this. In addition, many mountain bikers drive up Dunlap Hill and park off Road W to access the Boggy Draw Trail system, a connector, on the west end of Central Ave., may allow those mountain bikers and hikers alike, to stay in town rather than drive up the hill, to start their journey.

Mahoney mentioned it would be nice to have a trail head of sorts with maps of the different trails in town, possibly at Joe Rowell Park or Flanders Park.

The first phase of the grant, which requires a 25 percent match from the town, requires the hiring of a professional consultant, who will help by mapping the current trails system and work with the community to develop a master plan.