Sixty acres of trails and open space named after Cortez Army Spc. George Raymond Geer will be officially dedicated to his service and honor this Memorial Day with a ceremony open to the public.
Beginning at 9 a.m. on May 25, the ceremony’s speakers include Mayor Karen Sheek, and Spc. Geer’s father, Harold, and U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton, who will be delivering the event’s keynote address.
Montezuma County VFW, Post 5231 will provide color guard, volley, closing comments and taps. The Blue Star moms will also be laying a wreath.
The serene memorial area overlooking a pond has been with outfitted with a paved walkway, flag pole and plaque in honor of Geer.
A Montezuma County native, classic-car enthusiast and 1995 Dolores High School grad, Geer was killed in action in 2005 while stationed at Camp Ramadi, Iraq.
He was 27 years old.
About the trails
Abutting the Cortez Industrial Park, the sprawling Spc. George Raymond Geer Natural Area’s key feature is the nine miles of beginner/intermediate mountain bike trails which have been named after some of the most popular Beatles songs.
The switchbacking, hilly, winding trails have been open to riders since November, but have recently been marked with color-coded signage to make it easier to navigate.
“People have been really enjoying it. The response has been really, really positive, but the biggest thing we’ve heard is that people don’t know where they are (while riding),” said Paul Adams, pf the Kokopelli Bike Club.
The color coding of the trails and addition of on-trail markings should aid in that, but Adams hopes to put maps out on trails to give an even better sense of direction.
An interesting aspect of the trails is that their design and creation was handled largely by the local mountain bike community in cooperation with the city. Doing so gave those who will use the trail most a say in how it’s laid out, while helping the city make it happen without relying on a large budgetary appropriation.
“All of the trail design was done in-house,” said Dean Palmquist, City of Cortez Parks and Recreation director.
Volunteers from the Kokopelli Bike club logged at total of 166 hours installing roughly 3 miles of twisting single-track loops. The other connected 6 miles were donated by local Keith Evans, who also came up with the Beatles theme.
“It’s one of the first partnerships with the mountain biking community ... through the work of volunteers and the city of the city public works department, we did it most of the work with no budget in place,” said Palmquist.
After beginning the work on the trails last year, the parks department was able to get $10,000 to go toward the new natural area’s parking lot off of Road L and the creation of the memorial area. A new addition to the natural area includes a new gravel access road and parking lot just off of County Road L, put in by the city’s public works department.
While the establishment of the memorial area and new parking area are two huge milestones for Geer Natural Area, there are big visions for the park’s future.
Adams and Kokopelli Bike Club hope to establish a bike skills park, in the same vein as Velmont in Boulder or Coconino in Flagstaff, that can help riders of all levels work on technique before hitting the trails.
Palmquist also has plans to build a walking path around the pond and, pending Cortez City Council approval, hopes to secure access to the pond for non-motorized boaters.
Spc. George Raymond Geer Natural Area is located at 25502 County Road L.
The public is encourage to attend the Memorial Day dedication ceremony, beginning at 9 a.m. on May 25. A shuttle will be provided starting at F our Corners Builders, 525 N. Broadway in Cortez.