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Paths to Mesa Verde planning continues

A study group examine a map of the proposed Paths to Mesa Verde Trail at a public meeting on Dec. 15.

Montezuma County continues to work toward finding a route across private property for the proposed 17-mile Paths to Mesa Verde. The nonmotorized trail would link Cortez with Mesa Verde National Park and Mancos.

Natural resources director James Dietrich said the county has been systematically approaching private landowners about their willingness to have a trail easement cross their property. Properties have been labeled green for supportive, yellow for maybe, and red for no access.

Proposed routes on the Mancos side are increasingly coming up against red-labeled properties, he said. In those areas, the trail may have to be installed along the U.S. Highway 160 right-of-way, instead of away from the highway that the public said they would prefer during community meetings. Barriers would separate traffic from hikers bikers and equestrians.

From the Cortez side, county planners are negotiating with owners of a key 160-acre property to allow trail access from town to the county fairgrounds through the countryside. One option could be that the county purchases some land to allow for the trail to go through.

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