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Huerfano County Master Trails plan in the works

by Edie Flanagin

HUERFANO- The Parks and Trails Committee met March 3 at the County Courthouse to discuss activities for the coming year. The Committee formed in 2008 with goals of mapping and enhancing existing trails in the county, making new trails, and connecting trails  the Colorado Front Range Trail , a Colorado State Parks effort. Three projects were started in 2009.  The Trails Committee began work on the river trail along the Cucharas in Walsenburg. Enhancements of the second street trail which links Walsenburg with Lathrop State Park are proceeding. Most importantly, groundwork for the Master Plan was begun.

    With the help of the National Park Service employees Joy Lujan and Le’alani Schaumburg, county commissioner Art Bobian, County Administrator John Galusha, and a bevy of volunteers from across the county, a complete Huerfano County Trails Master Plan will materialize this year. The firststep in forming a Master Plan has already taken place. The Trail committee set up booths at Black Diamond Jubilee, Art in the Park and Gardner Hippie Days last summer to get comments and suggestions from Huerfano County citizens. With permanent markers in hand, citizens marked key destinations, drew potential trail routes, and confirmed existing trails in the county.  The National Parks Service also put together data from the USFS, Colorado Open Lands, the Center for Native Ecosystems and other agencies to make a map of existing trails as well as critical environmental areas in the county. This data, together with the input gathered by Huerfano County citizens, will guide the committee in the next steps of plan development.

    The committee will meet at Lathrop State Park on April 21 to determine draft trail alignments within Huerfano County. Subsequent meetings will be in the form of public hearings for more local input. The final master plan will not only have trail maps, but will also include photos, history, geology, ecology and cultural elements about the county. A draft of the Trails Master Plan is planned to be unveiled this Fall. The improvement of trail access throughout the county will enhance our enjoyment of this scenic and historic area.

    As part of this Trails Master Plan effort, Huerfano County is considering applying for a grant to determine the alignment for a trail from Fiesta Park to Lathrop State Park.  A public meeting is scheduled at 6pm on Thursday Mar. 18 at the Huerfano County Community Center. The meeting will be informal with maps of proposed corridors. Please come and share your input with us.