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GOCO awards $15.6 million for outdoor recreation and open space conservation in Colorado communities

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 -- GOCO
June 24, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 6/24/2015
 

Contact: Todd Cohen, o: 303.226.4530 c: 303-503-9068, tcohen@goco.org, or

              Laura Cardon, 303-226-4531, lcardon@goco.org

 

GOCO Awards $15.6 Million for Outdoor Recreation and Open Space Conservation in Colorado Communities

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board recently approved more than $15 million in funding for 37 projects across Colorado. Projects include construction and upgrades for parks and trails, river restoration efforts, open space conservation, and master plans for future recreation amenities.

In total, GOCO funding will:

  • Preserve more than 40,000 acres, more than 30,000 of which are sage grouse habitat
  • Protect more than 22 miles of river and wetlands
  • Construct 31.1 miles of new trails across four regional trail networks
  • Create or upgrade 14 new parks or outdoor recreation opportunities for kids

These grants support Governor John Hickenlooper's Colorado Beautiful initiative by identifying and filling critical gaps in connectivity for trails and open spaces, and GOCO’s new “Protect, Connect, Inspire” strategic plan, which focuses on land preservation, trails, and encouraging more youth to get outdoors. Project details are as follows:

ALAMOSA COUNTY
Rio Grande Healthy Living Park, $254,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land in partnership with Colorado Open Lands and San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition.

The grant will help acquire the 38-acre park in Alamosa and place it under a conservation easement. The land includes Rio Grande River footage and will include a one-half mile trail easement through the property to connect it to other trails. The San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition will develop the land as a working farm and food hub that allows local residents to grow their own food.

 

ARAPAHOE COUNTY
Triple Creek Greenway Corridor Phase 3, $2,050,000 grant to City of Aurora, in partnership with Trust for Public Land

The grant will help purchase 388 acres in Aurora, which represent some of the last acquisitions needed to complete a continuous 27-mile trail corridor between the Aurora Reservoir and the South Platte River in north Denver. When completed, pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians and wildlife will be able to travel the entire route without interruption. Arapahoe County will hold a conservation easement on the properties.  The Triple Creek corridor comprises Sand, Coak and Senac creeks and would provide connective loops to the Front Range Trail segments including the High Line Canal, Cherry Creek and Toll Gate Creek trails.

High Line Canal Visioning Project, $75,000 grant to Arapahoe County

The High Line Canal trail spans 71 miles along the Front Range, and a grant from GOCO will help the County and its dozens of stakeholders and regional partners to craft a comprehensive plan for the trail’s future development.

 

CHAFFEE COUNTY
South Arkansas River Restoration Project, $9,900 grant to Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas in partnership with the Collegiate Peaks Anglers Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Nearly $10,000 from GOCO will be invested in restoring a quarter-mile section of the South Arkansas River in Poncha Springs. The grant will leverage current river restoration occurring up and downstream of this section of the river and ensure the South Arkansas’ future health.

 

CONEJOS COUNTY
Rainbow Trout Ranch, $495,000 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

The grant will help purchase a conservation easement on the 590-acre Rainbow Trout Ranch near Antonito. The ranch, visible from the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway, contains a mile of the Conejos River and provides habitat for Canada lynx, Gunnison prairie dog and bighorn sheep.

La Jara Athletic Park Plan, $33,487 grant to the Town of La Jara

The Town of La Jara was awarded GOCO funding for the master plan of the La Jara Athletic Facility. The Town has envisioned an easily accessible family recreation facility to help the community connect to the outdoors. Plans for the 23.42 acre site include a walking track, ball fields, BMX track, and veteran’s memorial.

 

CROWLEY COUNTY
Town of Ordway/Crowley County School District Park and Playground Improvement Project, $288,651 grant to the Town of Ordway

The Town of Ordway and Crowley County School District will receive $288,651 to replace unsafe, aging playground equipment at the town park and elementary school.  Upgrades will result in a multi-generational community hub for outdoor recreation, including a new turf field for unstructured outdoor play,  playground and fitness-themed equipment, safety surfacing, and accessible walkways.

 

CUSTER COUNTY:
Westcliffe Memorial Park Playground, a $44,925 grant to the Town of Westcliffe

The Town of Westcliffe received $44,925 to upgrade Memorial Park Playground, which is approaching 20 years of use. The current playground is unsafe and lacks playground equipment for children under the age of five, an issue the project plans to address with new age-appropriate amenities for age groups as young as six months old.

 

DELTA COUNTY
Educational Signs at Paonia River Park, a $45,000 grant to the Town of Paonia

The Town of Paonia will be able to install an educational signage system in Paonia River Park thanks in part to $45,000 from GOCO. The new signs will not only help visitors to easily find their way to hiking, swimming, and fishing areas, but will also create environmental education learning opportunities for children visiting the park.

Riparian Restoration Along the North Fork of the Gunnison, a $25,000 grant to Colorado Open Lands in partnership with the Delta Conservation District and Western Slope Conservation Center

Colorado Open Lands will enlist the help of the Western Colorado Conservation Corps to remove invasive species on approximately 100 acres of land along the North Fork of the Gunnison. Corps members will also learn about the importance of invasive species treatment and participate in a community workshop focusing on how wildlife interacts with invasive weeds.

 

DENVER COUNTY: 
Re-Imagine Play at Paco Sanchez Park, a $350,000 grant to the City and County of Denver

Paco Sanchez Park will serve Denver’s Villa Park, West Colfax, and Sun Valley neighborhoods, where over 70% of the population lives below the poverty line and parkland is scarce. $350,000 from GOCO will help the City of Denver transform the 30 acre park into a space where park users of all ages with the opportunity to get outside and enjoy a healthier, more active lifestyle.  Plans include a family play and gathering area, multi-use field, community plaza, and two loop trails.

Educational Center & Montbello Open Space Master Site Plan, a $75,000 grant to the City and County of Denver in partnership with Environmental Learning for Kids and the Trust for Public Land

In partnership with Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) and the Trust for Public Land, the City will also receive $75,000 to complete a master plan for the future site of an environmental education certain and open space. The 4.5 acre site is located in the Montbello neighborhood and will provide at-risk youth and their families the opportunity to learn, play, and connect to science and nature.

 

DOLORES COUNTY
Burke and Barnett Ranch, a $208,500 grant to Montezuma Land Conservancy

The grant will help purchase a conservation easement on the 960-acre Burke and Barnett Ranch located in the Groundhog Glade region.  The ranch, which is adjacent to other protected lands, contains portions of Disappointment and Nash creeks and is an important migration corridor for the Disappointment elk herd.  Its protection fills a gap between a national forest, state wildlife area and other conserved lands.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY
Cherry Creek at Norton Farms, a $25,000 grant to the Town of Parker

The Town of Parker received $25,000 from GOCO for a major restoration project on Cherry Creek. The section of the creek being restored runs through Norton Farms Open Space, which the town received a $246,591 GOCO grant to acquire the land in 2000. This latest project on Cherry Creek will involve work to correct damage from storms and years of unmitigated erosion on the stream bank. Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado will also host a planting day to revegetate the banks and wetlands to reduce future erosion and ensure the project’s long-term success.

 

ELBERT COUNTY:
Elizabeth Trail System, a $596,000 grant to the Town of Elizabeth

Elizabeth will construct 4.5 miles of trails that will connect four schools, the town library, six parks, and a community garden to form its first regional trail network. Walkable trails are a significant barrier in getting residents outside, particularly youth.

 

EL PASO COUNTY:
Colorado Springs Legacy Loop, a $1,000,000 grant to the City of Colorado Springs

The City of Colorado Springs’ Legacy Loop project received $1 million in GOCO funding to complete a continuous ten mile trail. The existing trail corridor already sees 1,000 users per day, but trail gaps mean users have to navigate abrupt dead ends and street traffic. GOCO funding will fill these gaps with 2.3 miles of new trails and the addition of underpasses, pedestrian bridges, and other safe trail crossings.

 

GARFIELD COUNTY: 
Community Park Playground Equipment, a $193,540 grant to the Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District

GOCO awarded $193,540 to the Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District for upgrades to the community park. The 23,000 square foot playground will include old west facades and structures to pay homage to Parachute’s history as a ranching and mining town. The park will bring walkable, easily accessible outdoor recreation to the nearly 2,000 youth living in the Parachute/Battlement Mesa service area.

 

GRAND COUNTY:
Fraser Valley Sports Complex Playground Project, a $97,835 grant to Fraser Valley Metro Recreation District

The Fraser Valley Sports Complex will install new playground equipment that exceeds ADA guidelines in order to better serve its community. In addition to the 70,000 visitors the sports complex hosts each year, the National Sports Center for the Disabled will have access to the upgraded facility thanks to a $97,835 grant from GOCO.

 

GUNNISON COUNTY
Cranor Ranch, a $404,000 grant to Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy

The grant will help preserve the 692-acre Cranor Ranch near Gunnison. The scenic ranch, which is visible along Highway 135 and abuts Bureau of Land Management property, contains habitat for the endangered Gunnison sage-grouse.

Ridges to Rivers Trail Project, a $407,200 grant to the City of Gunnison

The Ridges to Rivers Trails Project was awarded $407,200 from GOCO to connect the Gunnison River Access Trail, Signal Peak/Tenderfoot Mountain Trail, and the Gunnison-Tomichi Valley Ditch Trail. Trail users will also benefit from upgraded amenities, including benches, restrooms, and underpasses. The project will construct a total of 2.6 miles of trail.

 

HUERFANO COUNTY
Redwing Ranch, a $382,700 grant to San Isabel Land Protection Trust.

The grant will help purchase a conservation easement on 1,665 acres of the Redwing Ranch near Gardner. The land contains over a mile of the Huerfano River and over a 1,000 acres of wetlands.  The ranch is a familiar sight to the approximately 15,000 people who pass the property to access nearby Blanca Peak, Mount Lindsey and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area.

Walsenburg Miners Plaza, a $44,000 grant to City of Walsenburg

GOCO funding will help the City of Walsenburg realize the vision of the downtown revitalization project currently underway. Miners Plaza will serve as a central hub for community gatherings and events and will provide residents and visitors with a walkable opportunity to get outside and enjoy downtown Walsenburg.

 

JEFFERSON COUNTY:
Evergreen Community Garden at Wilmot Elementary, a $43,922 grant to Evergreen Park and Recreation District

Wilmot Elementary School in Evergreen will create 30 gardening lots and a nature-base play area with the help of a GOCO grant. The Evergreen Park and Recreation District (EPRD) partnered with Evergreen’s Alliance For Sustainability + You to bring nature a little closer to children and their families. The garden will be not only be used by the students, but will also be shared with EPRD’s special needs program and the nearly 800 children living within one mile of Wilmot.

 

LA PLATA COUNTY:  
Durango Geology Overlook, a $45,000 grant to the City of Durango

GOCO awarded $45,000 for the creation of an outdoor classroom in Durango. In a city where half of the population is students, the new classroom will benefit thousands with its proximity to Fort Lewis College, ability to accommodate large groups, and easily accessible location on the Rim Trail.

 

LARIMER COUNTY:
Red Feather Lakes Community Library, a $43,930 grant to Larimer County

The Red Feather Lakes Community Library partnered with Larimer County to turn an empty gravel lot into a much-need community park. GOCO awarded $43,930 for the new park, which will boast a natural playscape, educational gardens, new walkways with educational tracks, and comfortable seating for library patrons and families to connect with and enjoy the outdoors.

Longview Corridor Trail, a $999,550 grant to Larimer County

Larimer County plans to connect the Longview Corridor Trail with $999,550 from GOCO. The project will construct 4.4 miles of concrete trail to connect the two municipal trail networks of Loveland and Fort Collins. The trail corridor also passes through five open spaces and natural areas.

 

MOFFAT COUNTY
Visintainer Conservation Project, a $2,025,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy.

The grant will help acquire a conservation easement on 25,735 acres of the Visintainer Ranch near Maybell. The ranch contains important habitat for the greater sage-grouse and has been described as “ground zero” for the grouse by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The ranch also is winter range habitat for elk and for 30 different species identified as in need for conservation assistance by CPW.

 

PUEBLO COUNTY
Crystal Canyon Conservation Easement, a $999,500 grant to The Nature Conservancy.

The grant will help preserve the 4,000 acre Crystal Canyon parcel of the Walker Ranch, which serves as the western border of the Pueblo West community and is adjacent to Pueblo Lake State Wildlife Area. This land will be in addition to 22,292 acres of the ranch that TNC has previously protected. The parcel is home to several rare plant species. The Walker Ranch has allowed for release of the black-footed ferret on its property as part of an effort to reintroduce the species to Colorado.

 

PROWERS COUNTY:
Lamar Loop Trail, a $996,619 grant to the City of Lamar

The City of Lamar will construct a 7.3 mile loop to create safe access for its residents. The multi-use trail will connect multiple existing trails and community recreational amenities and help overcome current walkability barriers such as highways and railroads.

 

RIO BLANCO COUNTY:
Meeker School District Stadium Renewal Phase I, a $350,000 grant to Eastern Rio Blanco Metro Recreation and Park District

GOCO awarded $350,000 to the Eastern Rio Blanco Metro Recreation and Park District for an overhaul of the track at Meeker High School. Student athletes currently travel over 50 miles to the nearest rubberized track, and the school hasn’t been able to host a track meet since 2009. Funding from GOCO will enable Meeker to install an eight land synthetic track, complete with a curbing and drainage system and improvements to spectator areas.


ROUTT COUNTY
South Routt Sage Grouse Conservation Initiative, $559,710 grant to Yampa Valley Land Trust

The grant will help purchase conservation easements on 724 acres of the Acord Ranch II and on 840 acres on the Rossi Ranch near Yampa. The ranches are visible from Highway 131 and the Flat Tops Scenic Byway respectively. The properties contain greater sage-grouse and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse priority habitat.

Howelsen Rodeo Facility – Phase II, $150,000 grant to the Town of Steamboat Springs

The Town of Steamboat Springs will receive $150,000 to update multiple components of the Howelsen Hill Rodeo Facility. Key structural elements have reached the end of their useful life, and renovations are critical to ensuring the rodeo facility can continue to operate safely year-round. Not only does the facility host thousands of rodeo spectators and competitors each summer, it is a popular destination for Nordic skiers and fat tire cyclists each winter.

 

SAGUACHE COUNTY
Poncha Pass Conservation Legacy, $1,592,500 grant to Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust

The grant will help purchase conservation easements on five working ranches, totaling 4,745 acres, that sit at the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and are highly visible from Highway 285.  Three ranches contain range for the threatened Gunnison sage grouse species and winter range for elk. Two ranches contain winter range for bald eagle and elk.

 

TELLER COUNTY: 
Memorial Park Redevelopment, a $350,000 grant to the City of Woodland Park

The last updates to Memorial Park took place in 1984, and GOCO funding will help replace aging wooden playground equipment surrounded by pea gravel among other updates to park amenities. Plans include a new fishing pier, benches and other family gathering places, and upgrades to the walking path to improve connectivity in the park.

 

WELD COUNTY: 
Island Grove Inclusive Playground, a $327,450 grant to the City of Greeley

Greeley was awarded GOCO funding for Aven’s Village at Island Grove, the complex that is also home to the county fair and Greeley Stampede. The new playground will serve the over half a million visitors Island Grove sees each year, in addition to the giving surrounding neighborhood accessible opportunity for outdoor play.

Twenty-two-year-old equipment will be replaced by a universally accessible playground. Design plans include signs with Braille and large print, a sensory garden and maze, a variety of textures and grades that are all wheelchair-accessible, and wheelchair transfer stations at every slide.

Frederick Softball Field Safety & Revitalization Project, $43,989 grant to Carbon Valley Recreation District

A once valuable community asset, the Frederick Softball Field project has fallen into disrepair, but a GOCO grant will help the facility receive the upgrades it so desperately needs. Without outside funding, the fields would be closed until 2018, but will remain open for the youth and adult sports leagues that call the field home thanks to a new infield turf and irrigation, fencing, and lighting.

 

GOCO is presently seeking applicants for its new Inspire Initiative, which offers between $1 million to $5 million in grants to selected communities to encourage kids to have more outdoor experiences. The program focuses on creating outdoor destinations like parks, improving access to outdoor location through new or improved trails, and expanding existing youth programs that introduce kids to the great outdoors. For more information on the initiative, visit goco.org/inspire.

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 4,500 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.