After 14 years as Executive Director of the Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership, Kate Kramer is moving on…about 20 feet to an adjacent office. She is managing a $2.7 million, three-year grant to provide better access to the outdoors for 37,000 youth in the northeast metro area. Kramer will work with 12 organizations to offer activities for youth at outdoor amenities including Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (RMANWR), Bluff Lake, the Urban Farm and, of course, the Sand Creek Regional Greenway.
During her years at Sand Creek, Kramer raised more than $17 million—and her work has resulted in a continuous 14-mile trail from the South Platte confluence on the west to Colfax Avenue on the east. It spans three cities—Commerce City, Denver and Aurora—passing through major parks in each.
Kramer credits her 21-member board comprised of citizens, staff and elected officials from the three cities for the success they’ve had achieving the vision of the Greenway. She likens her job to that of a baseball team manager, “I bring the bats, the balls, I get the team members to show up but then they run the bases.” She also credits the many volunteers whose efforts have been essential for trail cleanup and eradication of invasive species such as Russian Olive trees and tamarisk bushes.
Despite the huge improvements, Kramer says several projects remain—and she estimates completion of the Sand Creek Greenway will cost $5-7 million. But even though it remains very much a work in progress, it has progressed far enough to be named “Best Bike Path in the Metro Area” in a recent Westword poll. Kramer takes pride in an asset she likes to refer to as “wilderness in the city.” Under her tenure, all the street crossings have been converted to bridge and tunnel crossings that keep cyclists away from cars. She is also proud that there hasn’t been a single serious criminal incident along the Greenway despite the facility being open year round, dawn to dusk.
Access to Sand Creek became a possibility with the closure of Stapleton Airport. In the 20 years since the original Greenway master plan was created, accomplishments along Sand Creek and other streams in the area have made the Denver region a national model for linked regional trails. The really long-term vision is to connect a completed Sand Creek Greenway to the Rocky Mountain Greenway Project – a federal, state, and local partnership to link Denver trails, three National Wildlife Refuges in the metro region, Rocky Mountain National Park, and community trails systems in between.
But in the meantime, Kramer looks forward to her new job as manager of the Go Wild Northeast Metro Coalition (funded by a Great Outdoors Colorado grant). “Within a mile of these kids’ homes,” she says, “they can see eagles, prairie dogs and bison.” She recalls an experience last year when working with a group of kids who asked her if they could make some noise while on an outing. “They began vocalizing the sounds of wildlife and in a short time were screaming, going wild. It was several minutes of pure joy.”
New Sand Creek Director Hired
Beth Nobles says she was attracted to the Sand Creek position because “trails are a great bridge to enjoying the outdoors, to enjoying your community and to staying healthy.” That love of the outdoors started with the sense of independence she remembers as a girl using trails in Bloomington, IL—and was cemented by a high school summer internship building bridges and trails in the Illinois State Parks system.
Nobles brings grant writing, fundraising and board and partner development experience to her new position at Sand Creek. Along with 20 years in fundraising for the University of Iowa, she served as the executive director of the Texas Mountain Trail where she developed “tourism assets” and heritage bike routes in six counties. She is moving from Austin, Texas, where she has been serving as Deputy Director of Bike Texas, managing the day-to-day operations of the organization. She expects to be on the job in early July.