Continental Divide Trail Alliances shuts down

After 17 years of constructing more than 500 miles of trail along the Continental Divide, the nonprofit Continental Divide Trail Alliance notified supporters that it would cease operations due to financial problems.
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After 17 years and more than 500 miles, the Continental Divide Trail Alliance has notified supporters that the nonprofit is closing its doors.

The Alliance, which was founded in 1995, was unable to raise sufficient revenues to continue operations. During its years of activity, its staff and volunteers built 525 of the 2,268 miles of Continental Divide Scenic Trail and raised nearly $7 million. 

“Despite the strong level of financial support from so many of you, overall contributions and other revenues in recent years have significantly declined,” the notice said. “These revenues are the life blood of nonprofit organizations like the CDTA. Consequently, the CDTA Board of Directors has made the very difficult and painful decision to cease operations.”

The notice, posted on the Alliance’s website at www.cdtrail.org, said staff would be retained in order to fulfill current obligations, but representatives from the nonprofit did not return calls or emails from SNEWS seeking comment.

Bill Manning, managing director of the Colorado Trail Foundation, which worked closely with the Morrison, Colo.-based Alliance, said, “We truly feel for them in these hard times.”

The most recent publicly available financial report for the Alliance — its 2009 IRS 990 form — shows the strain beginning during the economic downturn in 2008 when the organization ended the year in the red $25,000. In 2009, it lost more than $150,000, leaving its year-end assets at $164,000.

Steve Dudley, whom the Alliance brought on as its executive director in 2008, is no longer listed on the organization’s website. His name was removed sometime between fall and winter, according to an Internet archive search.

Dudley made more than $116,000 as the organization’s executive director in 2009, according to the public documents. The Alliance spent $328,000 on other salaries and wages, plus about $50,000 on pension plans and other employee benefits that year. It reported close to $148,000 on trail construction and development that same year.

While the Continental Divide Trial will continue to exist, Manning doesn’t know who will take over the work the Alliance was doing and build the remaining 832 miles of trail.

“The Continental Divide Trail is the longest trail of that type in the nation,” Manning said. “It’s the longest and most challenging and their stewardship was crucial to its sustainability. We feel deeply for each of the CDTA people involved and wish them well.”

--Ana Trujillo and David Clucas

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