Las Vegas, NV; June 8, 2015 –The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) Blue Tree Trail System project won the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) Annual Achievement Award for outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds in the Education and Communication category.
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses through the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration. The Blue Tree Trail System involved nearly $130,000 in matching grant funds to design and build this non-motorized multiple-use opportunity. While the trail system is now open and functional, refinements are still in progress.
The 50-mile trail system consisting of restored existing trail and 17 re-routed or new connecting miles was first considered in the late 1990s when local equestrians and mountain bikers asked for loop trails with access to water and moderate elevation changes.
Early in 2005, the Forest Service obtained funding to perform an environmental assessment through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. The proposal included re-locating trail sections to address environmental issues and user safety.
The RTP grant provided the necessary funds to build the trail, and youth corps workers accomplished most of the work that included realignments to protect riparian areas, soils, and wildlife along with erosion repairs and other trail surface construction.
“This award reflects the efforts of a wide array of interest groups who pulled together to support a common vision and bring it to a reality on the ground while learning new skills,” said SMNRA Recreation Staff Officer Del Orme.
The Great Basin Institute was a main project partner, contributing funds and crews, many from the Spring Mountains Youth Camp, to build re-routes and close and restore sections as needed. In addition, the Bristlecone Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen of America installed signage and provided volunteer pack-stock support for trail crews.
The Backcountry Horsemen now uses the system in its engagement with a local high school Future Farmers of America chapter to share horsemanship, packing, and trail work experiences. Other local volunteer groups and individuals continue to support the trail system by patrolling to check signage, trail conditions, and share information with visitors.
“Through work with our valuable partners, we developed this trail system to meet the needs different user groups identified, and now equestrians, hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners all use it. This is the first trail system on the national recreation area that encourages shared use,” said SMNRA Manager Randy Swick.
SMNRA Trails, Wilderness, and Recreation Program Manager Suzanne Shelp will accept the award in a Capitol Hill ceremony in Washington, DC, on June 10. CRT is a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations that recognizes outstanding RTP-funded trail projects.
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