Maura McKnight is a staff of one, and many volunteers.
"It's meaningful work," she said in her new office at 120 Zerex in Fraser.
With a background in accounting and grant writing, and of course, a love of the outdoors, she is the perfect person to lead the Headwaters Trails Alliance into the future.
McKnight has a degree in biology and was planning on more schooling in accounting when she went on a ski vacation to Winter Park in 1996. She's lived in Grand County ever since. Her work experience includes volunteer work in Rocky Mountain National Park, outdoor education at the YMCA, a river guide on the Colorado River, and an avid hiker, camper, river-person, skier.
"I think working for HTA is a perfect job," she said. She joined the organization in 2010.
McKnight will be working out of the log cabin at 120 Zerex, which will act as a central location for trail user parking.
"Jeff Durbin called me and asked me if HTA would be interested in using the building. Jeff thought it would be a good fit, and he didn't want to see the building not used. There are some exciting plans for additional use of the building in the future, she said.
The new HTA office at former Fraser Visitor Center location offers parking with restrooms and trash cans, and a bike wash on the west side of the building coming soon.
"The possibilities for this space are endless," she said.
But for now, McKnight's office is here and the public can use the parking to access trails leading out from Fraser.
Other projects McKnight is working on include a trail sign project.
"We are working with town of Fraser and the town of Winter Park to design consistent signs for trails."
The new signs, to be put in place by next summer, will display QR codes, 'You are Here' map locators, and trail mileage. Trailhead signs will display elevation.
Soon to be "live" on their website is GIS trail mapping. McKnight has been coordinating the project with towns and local government agencies.
Winter Park Town Planner James Shockey has been instrumentals in helping us, she said.
"The map is just about ready, and is under agency review (BLM, USFS, and National Park Service). The collaboration between agencies and towns has been amazing."
Once the map is live, the public will be able to zoom in, and print, all the different trail areas including Granby Ranch and Winter Park resort.
HTA will have an informational display at Trails Night on May 31. McKnight will bring original photos of the Fraser to Granby Trail. There will be a volunteer sign-up sheet for Peterson trail work. HTA needs volunteers to help spread gravel along the top layer to finish the trail.
There will be a sign up sheet for Public Lands Day on Sept. 29 and maintenance crews on the Fraser to Granby trail, which will be finished mid-summer. Once completed, trail users can travel between Kaibab Park to Winter Park Resort via trail.
HTA collaborates with the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District offering a Summer Hiking Program, in its second year. Children ages 9 and older will learn Leave No Trace ethics, backcountry safety, local flora and fauna, and general ecology. The program is offered on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and registration is through the recreation district.
An annual fundraiser for HTA is a trail running series, Run the Ranches, starting in the fall. You can run or walk, said McKnight. All the money goes to trails. The Devils Thumb race is Sept. 16, Granby Ranch is Sept. 30, and new this year is a trail run at C Lazy U Ranch on Oct. 14.
"It's a great way to see Grand County ranches," said McKnight. Register on the HTA website. www.headwaterstrails.org
The mission of Headwaters Trails Alliance is to identify, maintain, and expand an accessible, interconnecting trail system in Grand County for appropriate multi-user groups.
Kristen Lodge can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610