RMFI Recognized With National Trail Award at Washington DC Ceremony

Rocky Mountain Field Institute’s (RMFI) Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Trail Project was one of nine trail projects chosen by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) for an Annual Achievement Award that recognizes outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds. The RTP is an assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration that provides funding to states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. The CRT is a national organization representing the nation’s major trail interests that helps build awareness and understanding of the RTP to ensure that it receives adequate federal funding.

The CRT awards ceremony was held on June 10 in Washington D.C. and RMFI’s Program Director, Joe Lavorini, was on hand to accept the prestigious award in the Construction and Design Category. The Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Trail Project was initiated in 2011 and completed in 2012, and involved stabilization of the primary trail corridor and surrounding slopes, restoring social trails and erosion gullies, and re-routing the current trail onto more sustainable ground. Forty volunteers contributed 6,990 volunteer hours toward the project (a value of $149,306). Volunteers ranged from students representing colleges and universities from across the country to members of the Colorado Mountain Club and community volunteers who attended RMFI’s Volunteer Vacation program. 

To further leverage the RTP funding acquired through the Colorado State Trails Program, RMFI secured matching funds from organizations including the Colorado Mountain Club ($10,000), U.S. Forest Service ($6,703), and Hillsdale Fund ($3,500). Smaller grants from organizations including Clif Bar, Dermatone, and Mountain Hardwear also contributed non-monetary support for the project in the form of trail snacks, sun protection, and climbing gear. 

Recognition of RMFI’s work on Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point came within a few days of the release of the first-ever “14er Report Card” prepared by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI). The report card assessed the condition of 42 fourteener summit trails in Colorado using factors such as the extent of erosion and trail widening to the amount and accessibility of natural rock source needed to improve the wilderness trails. The summit trail RMFI constructed to Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point received the highest ranking of all the trails included in the assessment. In addition, two other trail projects lead by RMFI, Crestone Peak and Needle and Humbolt Peak, received high grades as well. Also worth noting is the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, which RMFI has been working in for the past two decades, received the highest grade out of the 5 ranges included in the assessment.

“RMFI has always been proud of our 14er work and the work on Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point is no exception. To see our work recognized through a national award and in the 14er Report Card is a tremendous honor. It also pushes us to continue implementing highly impactful and lasting projects especially on our current 14er project on Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point where we’ll strive to build the most sustainable and durable trail possible,” said Joe Lavorini, Program Director at the Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

Published Date: 
Tuesday, June 23, 2015