A $2 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado — which invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds in state parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces — will complete a regional trail project that began in 1986 in Highlands Ranch to …
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A $2 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado — which invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds in state parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces — will complete a regional trail project that began in 1986 in Highlands Ranch to create a connection through Lone Tree to Parker.The extension will finish the East-West Regional Trail between Redstone Community Park in Highlands Ranch and the Cherry Creek Regional Trail in the Town of Parker, but also open hundreds of miles in trail use throughout the state, said Randy Burkhardt, assistant director of Parks and Trails with Douglas County, which started the regional trail project in 1986.The grant, awarded to Douglas County in conjunction with the Town of Parker, builds an eight-mile segment from Lone Tree to Parker, marking the final phase of an approximate 30-mile construction project that began in 2002, Burkhardt said.“It ties all of norther Douglas County together,” he said. “But on a grander scale, through various trail systems, it actually ties Denver to Durango.”The grant is one of six awarded in the first phase of funding under Great Outdoors Colorado's new “Connect Initiative” program, which seeks to close trails gaps throughout the state. It plans to invest $30 million in closing state trail gaps over the next three years.The Town of Castle Rock is one of the other recipients: A $1 million grant will extend the town's East Plum Creek Trail system by two miles. To date, it is the largest Great Outdoors Colorado Grant the town has received.“We are absolutely thrilled to be one of the six projects identified,” said Jeff Brauer, director of Parks and Recreation in Castle Rock.Lone Tree and Parker officials also were excited about their grant.“The east-west trail is a marvelous amenity to the City of Lone Tree as well as Douglas County residents, said John Cotten, Lone Tree's director of public works. "Great Outdoors Colorado recognized the value of closing the final gap ... which completes a vision that has been over a decade in coming to fruition."Jim Cleveland, director of Parks, Recreation and Open Space in Parker, noted the enthusiasm that residents and elected officials in Douglas County have traditionally shown for trails and the outdoors.GOCO's Connect Initiative enhances "the quality of life for all residents of Douglas County for years to come," he said.Design phases for the East-West trail segment have begun and construction is scheduled for 2017 and 2018.In Castle Rock, the East Plum Creek Trail extension will connect the communities of Crystal Valley Ranch, Kings Ridge, Heckendorf Ranch and The Lanterns with Castle Rock's historic downtown, Brauer said. They also will provide people with more access to the creek area, parks and open spaces.It's an exciting opportunity for a town that makes significant use of its trails. “We know that over 80 percent of our residents here in Castle Rock use the trails,” Brauer said.The East Plum Creek Trail currently travels the six miles from Castle View High School to South Perry Street. Its completion was included in the 2015 Parks and Recreation Master Plan. While the town is required to match the grant funds, the $1 million will help offset those costs, Brauer said.Design plans for the extension will begin in 2017 and construction in 2018 or early 2019.
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