With damage to the Lubahn Trail showing no sign of slowing, the Golden city council will consider a proposal that would involve spending at least $150,000 to restore and stabilize the trail so that …
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With damage to the Lubahn Trail showing no sign of slowing, the Golden city council will consider a proposal that would involve spending at least $150,000 to restore and stabilize the trail so that it can remain open for recreation long-term.
The trail, which was completed in the 1970s and provides access to South Table Mountain from central Golden, has been deemed “unsustainable” by Golden's parks department as a result of erosion and other damage wrought to the trail and surrounding land by hikers shortcutting the trail's switchbacks.
There are also growing concerns about the impacts on residents that result from the number of cars parked on Belvedere Drive and other nearby roads on residents by those coming to hike on the Lubahn Trail and neighboring Olivine Trail, which was completed last year.
Those and other issues led the city's Parks, Recreation and Museums board to seek an assessment of the trail and recommendations about what could be done about it from Jefferson County Open Space.
While the city of Golden currently owns and manages the trail, an assessment was sought from JCOS because the agency possesses more extensive expertise when it comes to trail management and is responsible for managing and maintaining most of the surrounding trails on South Table Mountain, including the Olivine Trail.
On March 23, JCOS officials presented their recommendations to the board, including the proposal to restore and enhance the trail by rerouting some sections and hardening eroded areas as needed.
“After hearing this from you and going out on the trail, we are doing our best to try to retain and honor as much of the trail as possible through these recommendations but also helping address some of the challenges that have been mentioned,” said JCOS Deputy Director Hillary Merritt.
According to Meritt, JCOS' recommended course of action involves improving the lower section of the existing trail, including rerouting portions of it and hardening eroded areas as needed.
A 600-foot section at the end of the trail, which goes onto private property but is often used by hikers wanting to access Castle Rock, would be closed to the public with fencing and other barriers.
However, about 400 feet of new trail heading south from the closure spot would then be added.
That section would provide connections to what Merritt described as “unauthorized sections” of trail. Those sections would connect to both the Olivine Trail, which hikers could take back to Golden as part of a loop, or to go further up the mesa via the Old Quarry Trail. JCOS would likely need to make additional improvements to the unauthorized sections.
Making those outlined improvements would allow about 80% of the existing trail to be maintained while keeping the trail sustainable, Merritt said. Those physical changes would also be more effective if those physical changes were combined with new signage directing people to stay on the trail.
According to JCOS, the restoration work would likely cost between $130,000 and $150,000 with the city looking at an additional $20,000-$25,000 for signage, fencing and bike racks.
“I think that price is perfectly fine for this,” said PRAM board member Scott Feldman-Peabody. “We are talking about spending $1.5 million on soccer fields right now and no one seems to be up in arms about that so that seems like a reasonable price to me for the number of users.”
Future trail management
If the Golden City Council votes to go forward with the restoration, it will also have to decide who will manage the trail going forward. While the trail is currently under city jurisdiction, JCOS Director Tom Hoby said the agency would be open to entering into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the city where the city would pay JCOS to both maintain the trail and provide ranger services for it.
Golden Parks and Recreation Director Rod Tarullo said the city's park department does not have a preference for who maintains the trails, but said the department would need more resources to successfully keep maintaining the trail than it currently has.
However, Tarullo said one advantage to JCOS taking over the trail is it would allow for their to be consistency with signage and other elements of the trail experience across South Table Mountain.
“The possibility of getting an IGA with Jeffco has somewhat of an appeal just to make that consistency,” he said. “Citizens don't care who owns it, they don't care who maintains it unless they do a terrible job, they just want to have a good outdoor experience.”
The PRAM board ultimately recommend that the city enter into an IGA with a duration of two or three years so Golden could see how JCOS does managing the trail. A date has not been set for the city council to review the PRAM board recommendation.
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