Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Phase 1 of Palisade Plunge Trail Near Completion

The Palisade Plunge Trail crew continues working up the ridge and will soon traverse to the other side.

Activity continues on the Palisade Plunge Trail. The crew continues working up the ridge, completing another 700 feet of new trail, leaving them at milepost 27.59.

A total of 13.16 miles of trail has been completed, leaving four miles to go before completion of Phase 1 of the trail.

A second trail crew has started camping on-site at higher elevations and is finishing the roughed-in sections of trail leftover from last year. They will work down toward the lower crew on the ridge to complete the remaining four-mile part.

Construction for this section of trail encompasses areas that have been identified as raptor habitat. The raptor nesting season in the project area typically occurs between mid-February and mid-August. By mid-August, most young birds have fledged and left the nest.

Another raptor survey was conducted for this year because construction will be occurring within that nesting window. The study identified two nests within the construction area, one belonging to a Peregrine Falcon, and the other nest housing a Golden Eagle. Both of these nests require a ½ mile buffer zone and could delay construction of the trail within these two areas until July 31, 2020.

Another raptor survey is being conducted for the Phase 2 area of the Plunge, and results will be back soon.

Getting closer to acceptable construction conditions on the top of the Grand Mesa.
On Thursday, May 7, Mesa County Search and Rescue took a helicopter to inspect the length of the trail from the Town of Palisade to the top of the Grand Mesa. 

Their goal was to identify hazardous areas, locate possible landing zones, and check out motorized access points. Around 15 landing zones have been identified but will require clearing of rocks, trees, and other debris to create a safe landing zone in the event of a helicopter rescue. 

A view from the helicopter as crew members work on the Palisade Plunge Trail.

Additional flights are being planned to measure and mark out landing zones and to possibly stage supply caches in various areas.

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