Trails on the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest are set to receive some much-needed attention in the summer, thanks to a grant from the Wyoming Recreational Trails Program.
Wyoming Pathways, an organization that advocates for cyclists and walkers, announced last week it received a $46,000 grant to be used for trail maintenance on Pole Mountain. The $60,000 project is also set to include $14,000 in private matching funds along with volunteer labor.
Tim Young, Wyoming Pathways executive director, said a professional trail consultant will be hired to guide the work and train volunteers who wish to participate. Young anticipated scheduling several volunteer work days during the summer.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for people in the Laramie area that are interested in volunteering to help build trails and want to improve their skills so they’re better able to do the work,” he said.
Additionally, Wyoming Conservation Corps is set to send four crews to Pole Mountain to do most of the heavy lifting starting in early June.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said trail maintenance would be limited to the 9 miles of system trails on the Pole Mountain Unit, which include trails such as Headquarters and Turtle Rock.
Many more miles of trails exist in the area, but they’re not officially part of the Forest Service system. Maintenance work could include anything from removing hazard trees to controlling erosion and run-off.
“There will be a variety of things that will be done there,” he said.
Voos said the grant would be a good start in addressing the current condition of the trails, which are heavily used by visitors from Laramie, Cheyenne and even the Colorado Front Range.
“There’s just an amazing amount of deferred maintenance and a backlog of maintenance on trails on the national forest,” he said.
Young pointed to a meeting that took place in August called the Pole Mountain Trails Charrette as an important element in spurring the process to this point. During the meeting, members of the public and the Forest Service gathered to discuss the future of the area.
“I think it really gave the U.S. Forest Service a better sense of what the needs are, what the public opinion is, and I think it was a step in this process towards this grant,” he said.
Voos said local groups have expressed interest for years in helping make trail improvements on Pole Mountain, and the Forest Service is hoping to create an organized community group that includes a variety of different types of users, designed to address a variety of long-term concerns in the area, not just trails.
“Basically, we’re in a position where there’s more work that needs done, specifically for recreation needs for the public, than we have staff and or money for,” he said.
Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero said long-term and short-term solutions to current problems would require continued community partnerships.
“The grant will address needs on many of our system trails and hopefully provide a starting point for long-term maintenance solutions,” he said.
Laramie BikeNet is one group that has been part of the advocacy process, and group member Evan O’Toole said he’s looking forward to giving the trails some attention.
“Hopefully we can give locals a chance to get up there and see what kind of work it takes to fix some of those problems and lend a hand,” he said.
Each of the participating entities expressed excitement about future collaborations
“It’s going to be the dawn of a new era on the Pole Mountains trails, and a really high-quality, sustainable trail system,” Young said.
The Wyoming Recreational Trails Program offers funding for both motorized and non-motorized projects on public lands in the state. Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails administers the program using funds from the Federal Highway Administration.