There’s a lot of fanfare around grant awards, but what happens after the ceremonial checks are presented and the reporters have published their articles? Our partners get down to business.
For 31 years, GOCO has improved Colorado’s great outdoors with the help of Colorado Lottery proceeds. We’ve put more than $1.4 billion in proceeds back into 5,700 projects to improve the lives of Coloradans across the state.
After projects are awarded funding, grant recipients usually have about two years to make their projects happen.
In recent months, 14 projects wrapped up, representing over $4 million in GOCO investments into local communities across the state. Scroll to see if one’s near you:
Adding Capacity and Reducing User Conflict on Salida's Trails
$33,398 grant to the City of Salida
With a Conservation Service Corps grant, the City of Salida partnered with Southwest Conservation Corps-Los Valles crews for four weeks to connect a user-made ‘social trail’ to the Panorama Trail. Crews worked with the volunteer nonprofit Salida Mountain Trails to make the trail more sustainable and user-friendly, creating a continuous mile-long trail open only to foot traffic. In phase 1, crews constructed 810 feet of new trail, closed 540 feet for rehabilitation, and improved 925 feet of existing trail. Phase 2 improved 1,650 feet of existing trail and constructed 145 feet of new trail. This project improved the City’s connectivity, increased user capacity while reducing user conflict, mitigated erosion, and enhanced user experiences on Salida trails.
Learn more about Salida Mountain Trails
Alamosa Trails and Fire Mitigation
$25,981 grant to the City of Alamosa
With this Conservation Service Corps grant, the City of Alamosa hired Southwest Conservation Corps-Los Valles (SCC-LV) crews for three weeks of work on two areas on city property with high fire risk. Crews reduced fuel loads on 11 acres at the Wilderness and 40 acres at the Oxbow Recreation Area. They also conducted trail maintenance in areas that needed better drainage. This project is part of a multi-year, GOCO-supported collaboration between the Colorado Youth Corps Association and SCC-LV to help the City of Alamosa develop, maintain, and care for its growing trail system.Learn more about SCC-LV
Baker's Park Trail System
$58,450 grant to San Juan County
San Juan County used its Conservation Service Corps grant to partner with Southwest Conservation Corps-Four Corners (SCC-FC) for the construction of 10 miles of trail as part of the Baker’s Park Trail System. Once completed, the entire system will include approximately 30 miles of shared-use singletrack for pedestrians and bikers of all skill levels. Located on the Bureau of Land Management Lands adjacent to Silverton, this project offers health and economic benefits, provides recreation opportunities, fosters community involvement, supplies educational experiences, and protects open space. Before this project, there were less than 10 miles of trail open to mountain bikes in the county of San Juan.
Learn more about Baker’s Park
Caldon Farms-Acequia Initiative
$272,600 grant to Colorado Open Lands
This Open Space grant helped Colorado Open Lands permanently protect the 2,464-acre farm in the San Luis Valley between San Pedro Mesa and the Rio Grande. Located within the Sancre de Cristo Conservation area administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the ranch supports irrigated flatlands, sagebrush shrublands, grasslands, and riparian areas that provide habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and numerous small mammal and avian species. The property is used for agriculture, producing alfalfa hay and grains. It includes water rights on Sanchez Ditch, contains three irrigation wells, and irrigates approximately 1,500 acres of farmland. The acquisition marked the end of phase one of the bigger Acequia Initiative helping landowners permanently protect the water rights on their properties for the benefit of the community.
Learn more about the acequias
Colorado Front Range Trail Project in Castle Rock
$2,000,000 grant to the Town of Castle Rock, and
$8,000 to the Town of Castle Rock for the Storytelling portion of the project
The Town of Castle Rock used its Connect grant to complete 5 miles of new paved trail to cover the last three gaps of the Colorado Front Range Trail (CFRT) within Castle Rock and northern Douglas County. There is now a continuous stretch of CFRT trail totaling 15 miles through Castle Rock. The new segments were added to the existing East Plum Creek trail and McMurdo Gulch which connects to the Cherry Creek Regional Trial and downtown Denver. In addition, funding helped the Town of Castle Rock Parks and Recreation Department collaborate with Big Bite Entertainment LLC and Bird’s Eye View Drone Services LLC to create a video showcasing the project and its impact.
Learn more about the Front Range Trail Project
East Big Thompson Invasive Species Removal & Habitat Restoration
$24,948 to the City of Loveland
With its Conservation Service Corps grant, the City of Loveland partnered with Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) for three weeks to remove invasive species and restore habitat along the Big Thompson River. LCCC saw crews treated and removed invasive Russian olive, Siberian elm, and tamarisk trees along 15 acres of the river corridor. This project aimed to improve overall ecosystem health, restore wildlife habitat, and decrease wildfire and flood risk. Removing invasive species also improved conditions for public access along a one-mile portion of the city’s East Big Thompson River Trail to be constructed 2023-24.
Learn more about East Big Thompson River
Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative
$65,275 to Larimer County
Larimer County Office of Emergency Management used its Conservation Service Corps grant to partner with the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed and Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) crews for six weeks to reduce wildfire risk at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. The 3,200-acre site has heavy fire fuel loads that present a high wildfire risk. Crews worked to reduce hazardous fuels and restore forest structures on approximately 30 acres of the watershed. This project is the continuation of several years of forest restoration and fire mitigation work to improve watershed health, protect nearby communities, safeguard water resources, and build sawyer capacity for the region.
Learn more about Larimer County’s forest health initiatives
Heart of Heil Valley Acquisition
$1,500,000 to Boulder County
Land Acquisition program grant funding helped Boulder County add 586 acres of State Land Board land located within the 5,143-acre Heil Valley Ranch open space (pictured above). The property contains significant wildlife habitat, agricultural value, and has been a popular outdoor recreation destination for many years. It contains 19 miles of trails that connect northward to the county's Hall Ranch open space—a popular destination for mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians, and bird watchers. The property is located in an ecologically important transitional zone between prairie grassland and montane habitat that hosts wildlife, rare plants, wetlands, and riparian areas.
Learn more about Heil Valley Ranch
High Line Canal Restoration Through Russian Olive Mapping and Mitigation
$36,123 to High Line Canal Conservancy
With help from a Conservation Service Corps grant, the High Line Canal Conservancy partnered with Mile High Youth Corps crews for four weeks to inventory and remove invasive Russian olive trees from the canal corridor. The project built on Russian olive mitigation efforts initiated in 2022. Crews addressed a 5.5-mile gap in the previously treated area, completing treatment along a continuous, 27-mile-long stretch. The work improved the overall ecological health and resiliency of the corridor. Invasive trees strain limited water resources and outcompete desired vegetation.Learn more about the High Line Canal Conservancy
Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Trail Construction and Improvements Project
$32,000 to Larimer County
Larimer County Department of Natural Resources used its Conservation Service Corps grant to partner with Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) crews for four weeks to implement several trail improvements prioritized in the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Management Plan. Crews constructed around 2 miles of new trail, restored 500 feet of unsustainable trail, and installed new trail wayfinding signs. These improvements reduce user conflict and impacts on natural resources. This project supports the county’s goal to provide quality outdoor recreation experiences while protecting and enhancing natural resources and ensuring sustainable operations.Learn more about the project
Rito Seco Trail Maintenance
$11,928 to Costilla County
With Conservation Service Corps grant funding, Southwest Colorado Conservation Corps-Los Valles crew members maintained and improved 8 miles of trail at the Rito Seco Park trail Complex and 3 miles of trail on the Greenbelt Trail. Crew members cleared fallen trees and brush, conducted trail surface maintenance, repaired signage, performed drainage improvements, inspected campgrounds, and hauled out debris. This project aimed to increase safety and improve accessibility to the Sangre de Cristo Ranches Greenbelt, which offers a lush stretch of creek filled with beaver ponds, wildflowers, historic log cabin ruins, and more.
Read a local press release about the project
Trail Build, Thinning, and Invasive Species Control
$25,571 to Colorado Open Lands
With help from a Conservation Service Corps grant, Colorado Open Lands and Lake Fork Valley Conservancy partnered with Southwest Conservation Corps-Los Valles (SCC-LV) crews for three weeks to develop an educational campground at Lake Fork Earth & Sky Center and an observatory site on Slumgullion Pass Observatory Site managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Crews built 1.5 miles of new trail and thinned one acre of forest for wildfire mitigation, forest health, and access at the campground. At the observatory site, crews removed abandoned camping remains, thinning and clearing dead trees and debris, and treated and removed Canadian thistle on five acres.
Learn more about SCC-LV
ECO: Transaction Cost Assistance Program
$260,000 grant to Keep It Colorado
With funding support from GOCO’s Resilient Communities Grant Program, Keep It Colorado (KIC) established and administered the Transaction Cost Assistance Program (TCAP) in 2021. The program helps land trusts and landowners cover the high costs associated with completing a conservation easement, which often poses barriers for landowners to engage in conservation options. Through the program, KIC created an accessible pool of funding and a process to select projects with the greatest urgency and conservation outcomes. This funding supports KIC in completing two competitive grant rounds, the first round awarded transaction cost assistance to 6 conservation easement projects.
Learn more about KIC’s TCAP Program
Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Fire Fuel Management
$53,430 to the City of Wheat Ridge
The City of Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation used its Conservation Service Corps grant to partner with Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) crews to cut, chip, and remove invasive species and woody debris from within the 300-acre Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. The six-week project improved ecological health and reduced fire risk within the Greenbelt while providing MHYC crews with educational experience in wildfire mitigation techniques, invasive species control, urban forestry, and open space management.
Learn more about MHYC