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GOCO invests $500k in grants to restore critical habitat in Colorado

Friday, December 15, 2017 -- GOCO
December 15, 2017

DENVER – On Friday, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded $500,000 in Habitat Restoration grants to seven projects across the state.

GOCO’s habitat restoration grant program improves and restores Colorado's rivers, streams, wetlands, and critical habitat on conserved lands and open spaces.

The projects in this round of grants will restore or enhance 138 acres of habitat and plant more than 3,600 individual trees and plants. They will engage youth and volunteers in providing at least $82,000 in labor and leverage more than $3.5 million in cash and in-kind match.

Funded projects are as follows:

Big Dry Creek Pilot Project Floodplain Restoration, $100,000 grant to the City of Thornton

The City of Thornton will invest GOCO funding in restoring parts of Big Dry Creek, an important natural resource and ecosystem for east-west wildlife movement. The creek has extensive erosion and noxious weeds that compromise the creek’s floodplain. GOCO funding will improve conditions along the creek and create overflow wetlands that will reduce flood hazards, improve wildlife habitat, and protect water quality.

Gore Creek Riparian Habitat Restoration, $38,847 grant to the Town of Vail

Gore Creek in Vail is not meeting standards for aquatic wildlife due to erosion and pollution from stormwater and urban runoff. Restoring native, creekside vegetation, by planting 2,700 trees and plants, and stabilizing creek banks with new structures will improve habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife. The project will also build new access points along the creek will allow anglers and others a way to enjoy the creek.

Greeley Urban Natural Area Habitat Restoration, $67,700 grant to the City of Greeley

The city will work to restore habitat within Pumpkin Ridge Natural Area, McCloskey Natural Area, and Mountain Shadows Natural Area. Restoration efforts will focus on controlling invasive, non-native plants and increasing the diversity of native plant species. These improvements will provide habitat to support urban wildlife species, particularly birds, small mammals, and pollinators.

Prairie Stream Restoration, $41,262 grant to the Southern Plains Land Trust in partnership with Colorado Open Lands

In partnership with Colorado Open Lands (COL), SPLT will restore habitat at Heartland Ranch Nature Preserve and Raven’s Nest Nature Preserve. The project entails restoration work along 20 miles of streams on the properties, which are both shortgrass prairie preserves, and will benefit the Arkansas River Basin, the largest in Colorado. The work will benefit a variety of native plants and animals and prevent further erosion and invasive plant growth.

Riparian Reconnect, $92,240 grant to COL

COL will restore habitat on three properties along the South Fork of the South Platte River as a part of a long-term effort to increase wetland and stream function and wildlife habitat in riparian areas throughout Park County. The restoration work will restore natural function to waterways on all three properties, improving wildlife habitat, water quality, and flood resiliency.

River Bluffs Open Space Restoration & Resiliency Project, $100,000 to Larimer County

Larimer County will transform a one-mile stretch of the Cache la Poudre River through River Bluffs Open Space, near Windsor, into a healthy river ecosystem. In part due to damage during the September 2013 flood, River Bluffs Open Space currently provides minimal wildlife habitat. The project will convert a section of river and its surroundings into high quality habitat, stabilizing eroding river banks, planting native vegetation, and encouraging native wildlife to repopulate the area.

Sand Creek Restoration Project, $59,951 grant to Palmer Land Trust (PLT)

PLT will invest GOCO funding on a portion of Sand Creek in Park County, near Tarryall. The Upper South Platte watershed not only provides ample recreational opportunities, but also provides 70% of Denver’s water supply. A diversion ditch along the stream course has breached, negatively impacting water quality for people downstream and the health of the surrounding landscape. PLT will replace the current diversion structure, stabilize and enhance the stream above and below the structure, and revegetate the stream banks with native plants.

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 5,000 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.