Conservation: President Obama’s ‘Americas Great Outdoors Initiative’ initial projects include the San Luis Valley, Yampa Valley and a trail system from the northeastern metro area to Rocky Mountain National Park

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

“For me the valley is a very sacred place,” said [U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar], who was raised in Manassa, where his family homesteaded about 150 years ago.

The San Luis Valley, the Yampa Valley in Northwestern Colorado and a network of trails and greenbelts envisioned to stretch from the northeastern portion of the Denver metro area to Rocky Mountain National Park will be the first three projects under President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.

“It’s an honor for Colorado to have the first three projects around America’s Great Outdoors be in Colorado, and especially I’m especially proud to recognize that there are going to be projects like this — just as powerful and just as wonderful — all over the country,” Hickenlooper said. “This becomes a gateway and a pathway to national treasures.”[…]

Architects of the Denver metro greenway project under America’s Great Outdoors envision bison herds on the former munitions site to welcome visitors to the state as they drive from Denver International Airport into the city.

The Yampa Valley project aims to conserve the lands and waters of the Yampa River basin to preserve working ranches and farms and wildlife habitats and to promote outdoor recreation and tourism.

The San Luis Valley project is similar. Its objective is to protect the area’s natural heritage and the lifestyle that spawns. Keeping alive wildlife habitats, wetlands and agriculture, restoring the Rio Grande corridor and promoting tourism and recreation in the area through conservation easements and efforts of federal and state agencies in conjunction with farmers, ranchers and other property owners is the goal.

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

This morning Salazar said the federal government has committed $350,000 to the Denver Metro Greenway Project to link trail systems and wildlife refuges in the Denver area with Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Denver Metro Greenway Project and the two others announced today will be “the flagships of President Obama’s Great Outdoors America Initiative,” Salazar said, describing the vision as “a network of trails” building on existing trails connect areas…

The projects announced [May 26] are:

Denver Metro Greenway Project: This project will create an uninterrupted network of trails between Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge in Arvada, Rocky
Flats National Wildlife Refuge near Golden and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Yampa River Basin Project: This project will use conservation easements, stewardship projects and other tools to preserve working ranches and farms and wildlife habitat while promoting outdoor recreation and tourism in northwest Colorado.

San Luis Valley Project: This project will work to conserve healthy lands and waters and promote tourism in the San Luis Valley and the Rio Grande River Corridor, focusing on the conservation of the ranching community and protection of wildlife and wetlands resources.

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

The Rocky Mountain Greenway Project might include a new shuttle bus linking the Regional Transportation District bus route to Lyons with Estes Park. Riders then could take another shuttle into the national park, Salazar staffers and park officials said. A commission created to guide that project also will explore linking park hiking trails to the Front Range via trails through the Arapaho National Forest and existing city and county open space. Rocky Mountain National Park officials have been working at “improving our connection to the Front Range, especially the underserved inner-city kids,” said park spokesman Rick Frost. A bus-link test program could be started by next summer, he said.

Hickenlooper cited Great Outdoors Colorado as an example of the state’s emerging forte as a center of ideas and innovation. “What happens when you do that right is that those ideas go forward and get taken up,” Hickenlooper said, adding that people’s ability to connect with nature remains “a basic core value of America.”

More coverage from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The trail system he proposed will be called the Denver Metro Greenway Project, and it will first connect Rocky Mountain Arsenal with Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge in Arvada, Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Denver and the metro area’s many trail systems…

A trail link to Rocky Mountain Arsenal is slated for completion in 2012, and the department is looking for additional funds for other links in the Denver Metro Greenway Project. When the greenway’s trails would connect Rocky Mountain National Park with the metro area hasn’t been determined.

More conservation coverage here.

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