Residents weigh in on proposed 'Palisade Plunge Trail' project

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PALISADE, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- On Wednesday, there was a hearing about an environmental assessment that might be the final step before construction can begin on the Palisade Plunge Trail, which would connect the Grand Mesa to Palisade.

It's a project that has been talked about for almost a decade.

"In the Grand Valley we have a lot of trails already, but we don't have a lot of long-distance trails," said Christina Stark of the Bureau of Land Management.

It will cover 34 miles, dropping down more than 6,000 feet from the Mesa to the Grand Valley below.

The Plunge is a project nearly 10 years in the making, that has the support of Governor Hickenlooper and a host of groups across the Grand Valley.

"We see that it brings recreational users to the area," said Rich Sales, the Palisade Town Manager. "We enjoy that because for Palisade tourism it's economic development."

There were a few concerns, mostly about safety and business.

"How that will impact other businesses and how they complement each other," said Rob Hybarger. "What are the possible revenue from tourists?"

"We've done reroutes and realignments when we found issues and worked around them," Stark said.

Overall there was a lot of optimism. Supporters say the project could infuse nearly $2 million dollars annually into Palisade's economy, and $5 million for the entire Grand Valley.

"I'm a mountain biker and I love the trails here," said Randy Fay. "I love uphill mountain biking so I have high hopes for that."

"The change in tundra and then to end up in the orchards and vineyards of Palisade at the end of the trail before you get to downtown Palisade is going to be unique," Sales said.

Sales said they are working on $155,000 in grants and funding for the lower and upper ends of the trail.

If it all comes through, and the assessment is approved, the town hopes to start construction on those parts sometime this summer.

Public comment on the environmental assessment will be taken until April 13. Click here to learn more.

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