Pole Mountain Trail Project – Phase One Success and Next Steps
Phase one of the Pole Mountain Trail Project was substantially completed during May and June with excellent results. The four Wyoming Conservation Corps crews and many volunteers put in over 3,000 hours work on the System Trails to improve trail drainage and reroutes necessary for trail sustainability on Pole Mountain.
Located between Laramie and Cheyenne, Pole Mountain on the Medicine Bow National Forest has evolved into the go-to outdoor playground for these two large Wyoming communities, and increasingly is a destination for visitors from the Colorado front range and travelers along Interstate 80. From casual recreation visits to large athletic events,
Pole Mountain trails are experiencing high, and increasing, year-round use.
Like many public land trail systems in Wyoming, the trails used today on Pole Mountain evolved over time and were never designed to function as a modern front country trail system. The Laramie community and the Forest Service also lacked a robust trail partnership program, such as Jackson Hole has developed with t
he Bridger-Teton National Forest.
To help address this, Wyoming Pathways is leading the Pole Mountain Trail Project, a transformative collaboration with the Medicine Bow National Forest and Laramie and Cheyenne trail user communities. This project addresses a long-identified need to provide better quality sustainable trails on Pole Mountain for the increasing number of people using the trails, and to address the maintenance backlog on the trail system which is causing resource damage, impacting user enjoyment and creating safety issues.
Last August, Wyoming Pathways partnered with the UW Ruckelshaus Institute on a Trail Charrette held in Laramie. Public input at the well-attended meeting confirmed the desire for improved partnerships and strong agreement with the top priority needs for trail maintenance and trail improvements.
At the request of the Medicine Bow National Forest, last winter Wyoming Pathways applied and won a $46,000 federal Recreational Trails grant for Pole Mountain, and contracted with the Wyoming Conservation Corps for trail maintenance work. To assure high standards for sustainable trail building, Scott Linnenburger, a professional trail building expert, was contracted to lead the trail layout and trail crew oversight.
The Pole Mountain Trail Project has attracted attention and support of Governor Mead’s office and the Forest Service. Among the VIPs visiting the crews were Jessica Crowder, Natural Resource Policy Advisor for Governor Matt Mead, Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest Supervisor Dennis Jaeger, and Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero.
Partnerships with the Laramie community have flourished as a result of the project. Wyoming Pathways worked with the University of Wyoming Outdoor Program to support volunteer training and organizing volunteer “Dig Days” to allow the community to participate directly in the Trail Project. Fifteen people attended an advanced trail building school, and over 50 people from Laramie and Cheyenne participated in the National Trails Day event held on June 3rd.
The Pole Mountain Trail Project has not only improved the public trails and community partnerships, Wyoming Pathways believes it can be a template for other communities around Wyoming where similar challenges with public land trail systems exist. In addition, Governor Mead’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force has recognized the importance of close to home trail systems for the many benefits including economic, health, and quality of life.
The combined value of the Pole Mountain Trail Project is $72,000 counting Wyoming Pathways support, the federal grant, and local contributions. Next steps will be to close out the project, and prepare a report on the accomplishments and to recommend the next phases of work.
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