Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday that the state will prioritize connecting and building 16 hiking and biking trails in all parts of Colorado. The goal is to connect and build missing trail segments to make it easier for people to access open space and parks.
It's part of the governor's Colorado the Beautiful initiative, unveiled in 2015.
"We've identified projects that will help us fulfill the vision of Colorado the Beautiful, and create the kinds of connections that link us to the natural splendor that sets our state apart," Hickenlooper said.
The governor thinks it's especially important to make sure more children are connecting with nature.
"Getting more Coloradans outdoors more often is good for our health and a refreshing reminder of how fortunate we are to live in Colorado."
According to the governor's office, the projects were selected based on criteria such as economic development potential, proximity to underserved communities, and partnerships across all levels of government.
Great Outdoors Colorado, which receives money from lottery sales, has earmarked the first $10 million in their trail budget for these 16 trails projects — but participants must apply for the money. Other funds will come from the Department of Transportation, Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Local affairs through competitive grant programs.
There's no final price tag for the 16 priorities. Todd Hartman with the state's Department of Natural Resources notes that "several of the projects are conceptual and need to first undergo feasibility and planning before route alignment (and construction) costs can be determined."
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is also developing an interactive statewide trail map to make it easier for people to access trails.
A list of the 16 trail projects is available on the Colorado the Beautiful page of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources website — highlights include the Front Range Trail (an almost 900-mile system that extends from the New Mexico border to Wyoming), a 74-mile trail connecting Crested Butte and Carbondale and the Paths to Mesa Verde (various "multi-modal linkages" that connect the popular destination with local towns, bike trails and schools). The website includes a brief summary of each proposal and a map locating each project.