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GOCO awards $6.6 million for land conservation, protecting 13,000 acres of land

Thursday, December 8, 2016 -- GOCO
December 8, 2016

DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded $6.6 million in grants as part of its open space grant program, conserving more than 13,000 acres of land on 11 different properties.

GOCO’s open space grant program funds public and private land conservation, with projects that sustain local agriculture and economies, give outdoor recreationists a place to play (or simply enjoy the view), protect wildlife habitat, and safeguard the state’s water supply.

This round of projects will leverage $17.2 million in matching funds, more than $7 million of donated land value from landowners, and create or maintain public access on several projects.

GOCO also offered two new funding opportunities as part of the fall 2016 grant cycle. Grantees were able to request up to $10,000 of their grant budget for communications and storytelling purposes, as well as an additional $5,000 line item for connecting youth to the outdoors on the property being conserved.

Funded projects are as follows:

Baker’s Peak Ranch Conservation Easement Project, $625,000 to Colorado Open Lands in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Just south of the Wyoming border, Baker’s Peak Ranch is a 7,311-acre working cattle ranch that is also home to abundant wildlife. Permanently conserving the property will protect wildlife habitat, encourage further conservation in the area, preserve public hunting access, sustain local agriculture, protect scenic views from adjacent BLM land, and connect to other nearby public lands.

Doig Homestead Open Space, $675,000 grant to Summit County

The Doig Homestead, located just north of Silverthorne, is in the only remaining part of Summit County that is still home to active agricultural production. The project will also preserve scenic views from Highway 9 and protect habitat for deer and elk.  The county will continue leasing the land for agricultural use and is considering opening a portion to public access to reach the surrounding United States Forest Service trails.

Farmland Acquisition, $487,690 grant to the City of Brighton (partial award)

In partnership with The Conservation Fund, Brighton will acquire 64 acres within an agricultural and agritourism district planned through a partnership between the city and Adams County.

The property is essential to preserving Brighton’s rich agricultural history and is part of a valuable farming area in the region thanks to fertile soil and significant water rights. The property was at risk of development, but Brighton saw the need to see it instead conserved for local food production, scenic views, and public open space.

Johnson Ranch - Glade Park, $308,500 grant to Mesa Land Trust

GOCO funding will enable Mesa Land Trust to continue a conservation effort 50,000 acres in the making on Glade Park; the 680-acre Johnson Ranch will be the latest property permanently conserved and will serve as an example for nearby landowners to protect critical wildlife habitat while allowing ranching to continue. The cattle ranching family currently leasing the property also plans to continue to allow public access for local Boy Scout troops.

La Garita Creek Ranch Conservation Easement, $376,500 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT)

La Garita Creek Ranch is a 460-acre guest ranch outside of Del Norte that provides critical water access and habitat for a variety of wildlife and contains early Native American archaeological features that will be permanently protected.  The conservation of La Garita will also create new climbing and bouldering access near Penitente Canyon. RiGHT was successful in applying for storytelling funds for this project.

Maverick Ranch, $1,056,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land (TPL)

Maverick Ranch is a 204-acre property outside of Salida with Gold Medal fishing on the Arkansas River. Once conserved, it will open to the public for fishing access, creating the longest span of public access on the river. The ranch also provides important wildlife habitat and connects to surrounding Bureau of Land Management land.

TPL was successful in applying for $10,000 for storytelling efforts and will also partner with Denver’s Environmental Learning for Kids after receiving an additional $5,000 for connecting youth to the outdoors.

North Floyd Hill, $545,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), in partnership with Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT)

Acquiring the 109-acre North Floyd Hill property will create a new gateway on I-70 for Coloradans to access 12,000 acres of trails and public open space in Clear Creek and Jefferson counties. The project will ultimately connect to the Peaks to Plains trail, protecting the highly visible property from development and permanently conserving it for public outdoor recreation.

TPL and MALT were also successful in receiving $5,000 for connecting youth to the outdoors through this project.

Poudre Valley Community Farms: A Pilot Project for Community Investment in Local Food, $639,750 grant to Colorado Open Lands (COL)

COL will conserve a 52-acre property between Fort Collins and the Town of LaPorte to add to the popular local Native Hill Farm, which supports a year-round community-sustained agriculture (CSA) program, a farm stand, and several restaurants in Fort Collins with local produce. The Poudre Valley Community Farms Co-op will lease the land to Native Hill for organic vegetable production, pioneering a new model for community investment in local food.

COL was successful in applying for the storytelling funding opportunity.

Sunfire Ranch, $1 million grant to Pitkin County

Pitkin County will permanently conserve 1,240 acres of the Sunfire Ranch, the largest ranch still unprotected in the Crystal Valley. The property has been owned by the Sewell Family since 1880. Conserving Sunfire will fill in extensive landscape of other conserved land on the Thompson Divide in addition to protecting wildlife habitat, sustaining local agricultural and environmental education, preserving scenic views, and protecting one mile of Thompson Creek.

The Nature Center at Butler Corner, $264,560 grant to Montezuma Land Conservancy

Montezuma Land Conservancy will conserve the 263-acre property outside of Dolores known as The Nature Center at Butler Corner. Several hiking trails and a temporary outdoor classroom are already in place and serving school groups and local families. The conservancy foresees using the property as part of its Community Conservation Initiative to increase local awareness of conservation efforts.

Yust Ranch, $697,000 grant to The Conservation Fund

The Yust Family has ranched in Grand County since 1884, and their property provides habitat to some of the largest herds of big game species as well as greater sage grouse. The project will contribute to the statewide conservation efforts for the Colorado River and protect scenic views enjoyed by the outdoor recreationists who fuel the regional economy.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,800 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.