DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded a total of $4,591,145 to nine projects across the state as part of its base programs: Community Impact, Land Acquisition, Stewardship Impact, and Planning and Capacity. The GOCO board also approved $1.2 million in funding to support RESTORE Colorado, a collaborative initiative administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Base program funding will help:
- Create and enhance parks and other outdoor recreation amenities in Craig, Denver, Fort Lupton, and Fruita, supporting equitable outdoor access and quality of life.
- Colorado Open Lands conserve 398 acres of private land in the southern San Luis Valley to expand local outdoor recreation opportunities and protect wildlife, land, and water resources.
- Mile High Youth Corps conduct a two-year pilot program to assess the viability of launching a conservation corps in Eastern Colorado.
- Colorado West Land Trust develop a comprehensive plan to steward its six-county conservation easement portfolio over the next decade and address issues related to climate change, outdoor recreation, and increased development pressure.
- Rocky Mountain Field Institute and Gunnison County advance high priority stewardship efforts addressing increased use of outdoor areas.
The board’s funding of the RESTORE Colorado 2023 project slate helps support at-scale habitat restoration and stewardship projects on public and private conservation lands in Colorado that have the greatest benefit for wildlife and local communities.
GOCO base program awards:
GOCO’s Community Impact program develops and revitalizes parks, trails, school yards, fairgrounds, environmental education facilities, and other outdoor projects that enhance a community’s quality of life and access to the outdoors.
Community Park Renovation Project, $790,000 to the City of Fort Lupton
Funding will help the community of Fort Lupton create a more inclusive community park where children of all ages and abilities can play and parents can connect. The project will add a splash pad area, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible playground equipment, improved trails in and to the park, on-site restroom facilities, and shade structures and picnic tables for outdoor gatherings. Park improvements will increase safety, provide outdoor recreation options for those with physical disabilities or economic challenges, and make the park accessible by walking or biking.
Heron Pond/Heller/Carpio-Sanguinette Park, $750,000 to the City and County of Denver
The grant will help Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) complete the final phase of its 80-acre open space project in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood adjacent to the South Platte River. The project seeks to restore the property’s natural ecology, create connections between the site’s natural areas and the surrounding community, enhance the park experience, and promote community health and well-being. The completed park will include a pollinator-inspired playground, picnic areas, shade shelters, and looped walking paths, and connect to open space supporting critical wildlife habitat.
Reed Park Revitalization, $600,000 to the City of Fruita
Located at the heart of Fruita, Reed Park is one of the most heavily used parks in the city. To address many aging amenities that have not been updated since the park’s creation, the City of Fruita plans to use its GOCO grant to revamp the space to better serve the community. Plans include a new basketball court with a multi-use sport court, improvements to the existing pavilion, a modern playground, and a new skate/wheel park. Upgrades are slated for completion by spring 2024.
The Yampa River Corridor Project, $600,000 to the City of Craig
Funding will go towards the City of Craig’s Yampa River Corridor Project, a whitewater park and public access improvement effort on the south side of the city. The nearly $5 million project is comprised of three major elements: Loudy Simpson Park improvements that include a new concrete boat ramp, access road, and parking area; whitewater park infrastructure for recreationalists along with features to allow fish to safely pass; and land-based river park amenities to include an access road, parking areas, connective trails, river access for anglers and small watercraft, nature-based play areas, picnic shelters, and more. The park system along the Yampa River is expected to be completed by year end 2024.
GOCO’s Land Acquisition program supports urban and rural landscape, waterway, and habitat protection priorities and improves access to the outdoors.
Rito Seco Park Expansion, $825,000 to Colorado Open Lands
With this grant, Colorado Open Lands (COL), in partnership with Costilla County, will purchase a 398-acre parcel of private land along the banks of Rito Seco Creek. The property consists of forested hillsides, open meadows, and riparian areas that provide important wildlife habitat. The conserved area is also critical to the growth of recreation opportunities. The acquisition connects the two trail systems used most by Costilla County residents–the Greenbelt Trail System and Rito Seco Park and Open Space–which contain the only formal trail networks in the entire county. In addition, the parcel includes 0.75 miles of Rito Seco Creek that will expand public access to fishing and other water activities.
GOCO’s Stewardship Impact program supports collaborative stewardship work that demonstrates meaningful improvements to ecological and recreational amenities.
Multi-jurisdictional Stewardship in the Pikes Peak Region, $296,700 to Rocky Mountain Field Institute
Funding will help Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI), in partnership with land management organizations, employ stewardship crews to complete urgent, community-driven stewardship projects in parks and open spaces and across other public lands in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region over the next three years. High rates of outdoor recreation and one of the most rapid population growth rates in the state make stewardship efforts in the region critical for the long-term health of the landscape. RMFI’s new stewardship crews will include five to seven paid seasonal staff. Investment will address current labor challenges in the stewardship industry by supporting jobs in more locations, increasing wages, and funding staff training opportunities for crews and project management professionals.
Advancing Stewardship in Gunnison County, $300,000 to Gunnison County
The Gunnison Valley is experiencing increased visitation, evolving recreation styles, human and wildlife conflicts, climate change impacts, and more. Gunnison County launched the Gunnison County Stewardship Program (GSCP) and Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) Committee in 2017 to steward the region’s land, water, and wildlife resources. The grant will help increase workforce capacity for local stewardship organizations, add staff capacity for the GCSP program to support region-wide collaboration, and complete high priority, shovel-ready stewardship projects identified by the STOR Committee, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and community partners.
Planning and Capacity
GOCO’s Planning and Capacity program invests in projects that address opportunities, explore issues, engage communities, and examine trends in the outdoors.
Eastern Plains Youth Corps Proof-of-Concept Project, $342,445 to Mile High Youth Corps
Funding will help Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) conduct a two-year pilot program to assess the viability and sustainability of an Eastern Colorado-based conservation service corps. This feasibility study will explore what organizational structure would be necessary to successfully launch a conservation corps and implement corps work. MHYC will create a new position for a local, full-time program manager to oversee the study, followed by staff implementing an 11-week pilot stewardship program. Lastly, MHYC will then expand the study to additional Eastern Colorado counties to determine how programming could be implemented throughout the region.
Promoting Landscape Resilience at Scale, $87,000 to Colorado West Land Trust
Colorado West Land Trust’s (CWLT) conservation easement portfolio includes over 600 properties covering over 126,000 acres of land across six West Slope counties: Delta, Gunnison, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel. Funding will help CWLT develop a comprehensive stewardship plan to guide its efforts for the next decade and address natural resource issues related to climate change, outdoor recreation, and increased development pressure. In addition, CWLT will develop a suite of restoration and resiliency-building projects that engage landowners, partners, and other land trusts that hold conservation easements in the region to improve landscapes at scale and gain insight that may be used by other organizations to deepen their own conservation impact.
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 5,600 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.