A Must Read: RTA One-year Accomplishments & Future Plans
Rico Trails Alliance (RTA) was started in the spring of 2017 by residents of Rico interested in expanding non-motorized recreation in the area, improving quality of life and bringing economic benefit to Rico.
Our first-year accomplishments include:
– Hosting three successful events which brought people from Telluride through Cortez to the Rico area to share our trails experience (4th of July Rico Ride, Fat Bike Bash and 2nd Annual Summer Ride & Fundraiser)
-Entering volunteer trail work agreements with USFS and put on two volunteer trail work days (Salt Creek and Groundhog Stock trails)
– Two trail alignment site walks with surveyor
– Purchase of a new snowmobile (funded through private donations)
– Purchase of new groomer (funded through a donation from The Rico Center)
– Designed, purchased and installed trail signs in conjunction with Rico’s Parks & Rec. Department
– Completion of website www.ricotrailsalliance.org, which features 14 trails with maps, descriptions of trails, a blog and an Instagram gallery
– Participation in meetings with ski area and USFS as well as regional trail meetings with trails groups from all over western Colorado
RTA surpassed its year-one objectives with the following activities:
– Conducted online surveys to gather data about the recreational desires of people in Rico and surrounding areas
– Promoted public participation in USFS travel management plan for Dolores District and prepared detailed written comments to USFS on the travel management plan
– Solicit support from regional businesses (Paragon, Aemono, Telluride Brewery, Telluride Distillery, Foley Associates, Russell & Pieterse, LLC, Enterprise Bar & Grill, Prospector Restaurant, Kokopelli Bike & Board, etc.)
– Coordinated activities with area organizations and governmental entities (Town of Rico Park’s & Rec, Artists of Rico Colorado, Town of Mountain Village)
– Commenced snow bike grooming with assistance of Town of Mountain Village
– Multiple meetings with USFS regarding trail projects
– Formation of Trails Committee with weekly meetings and group rides
Winter 2018/2019 plans:
Rico Trails Alliance continues to make great progress. We will of course continue to host at least two social/recreational events per year. In the near term, however, our focus will become winter trails. In addition to snow bike grooming in Rico, we have secured USFS permission to snow bike groom in the Cayton Campground at the base of Lizard Head (with an eye toward expanding this effort south along the river valley towards Rico).
RTA has identified three primary trail projects in it’s first year. We have been working closely with the Forest Service to get these trails projects going in the Rico area as follows:
(1) Circle Trail – an unsigned, little known, hard to follow and rarely used historic trail never formally recognized by the USFS extending from Section Point near Hermosa Peak on the Colorado Trail all the way down to the Town of Rico. We’d like to pull Circle Trail into the USFS trails system and rebuild the upper section. If completed, Circle trail would bring Colorado Trail tourism into Rico and would greatly expand our access to the area.
(2) Rio Grand Southern – the historic railroad grade, which extends south from Rico along the Dolores River’s East Fork to the Dolores/Montezuma County line. This trail boasts a number of historic features (coke ovens, coal shoots, water tanks, etc.) and provides a moderate alternative to steep alpine terrain. Much of this section of the RGS is on USFS land, and we are working with USFS to start building the historic route out as a trail. This would provide beginner and family-level recreational opportunities to Rico (currently lacking due to our steep mountainous terrain) and could be groomed in the winter for nordic skiing and fat tire cycling.
(3) Ryman Creek -The lower Ryman trail is a non-motorized trail that accesses a beautiful, remote canyon south of Rico near the county line. Lower Ryman trail has several sections that are unsustainably steep and eroding. These sections preclude many uses of this trail, and the trail needs to be re-routed. If improved and rerouted, this trail would provide a ride-able and hike-able route extending from Highway 145 (7 miles south of Rico) east up to the Colorado Trail and then loop back down to the Highway via the existing Salt Creek Trail, one of the area’s most popular trails.
The Forest Service is currently putting together internal proposals to decide which projects will be implemented in the near future. The USFS fell behind schedule this summer due to the severe fire season and ongoing vegetation/fuels management. However, three USFS representatives met with RTA representatives, as well as the Town Manager and Town Parks & Recs Director, to regroup on RTA/USFS trail projects. RTA is currently entering into an agreement for a USFS contract archeologist to perform the required cultural assessments for three Rico trail projects selected by RTA (Ryman, Circle, RSGS grade). The cultural assessment work will begin this fall.
Envisioning a broader conservation effort for our valley, RTA and the Town have asked the Trust for Public Lands to assist with conservation efforts, including trails.
The word is out, Rico is the place to recreate. RTA, together with our partners (The Rico Center, the Town of Rico, Artists of Rico, Colorado (aRc) and other local and regional organizations played a large role in this. Now we need to make sure that this new attention benefits our little community with a sustainable recreational economy and a more vibrant Main Street.