DENVER - Today the GOCO board awarded a total of $3,821,265 to 9 projects across the state as part of these GOCO programs: community impact, land acquisition, stewardship impact, and planning and capacity.
The projects will:
- Permanently protect over 333 acres of land supporting wildlife and conservation values.
- Build and revitalize parks and trails in Grand Junction, Strasburg, Idaho Springs, and Loma to expand recreation access for users of all abilities.
- Support the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in planning efforts to sustain the traditional harvest of culturally important plants.
- Expand meadow restoration in the Upper Gunnison River watershed.
- Increase access to natural spaces and build community capacity to help confront environmental inequities in Aurora and Commerce City.
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.
Virginia Canyon Mountain Park Trail Construction, $359,087 to the City of Idaho Springs
Funding will support the City of Idaho Springs, in partnership with the Colorado Mountain Bike Association (CMBA), in constructing new trails and amenities at Virginia Canyon Mountain Park. The trailhead is located within the National Historic Argo Mill property adjacent to the recently constructed Clear Creek Greenway and Peaks to Plains Trail and connects to residential areas, city parks, and the downtown National Historic District. Once completed, this project will offer 6.13 additional miles of hiking trails, as well as dedicated biking trails including a loop and a downhill section designed to be a major draw to the region.
Community Park East, $724,610 to the Strasburg Metro Parks & Recreation District
Funding will help the Strasburg Metro Parks & Recreation District construct a new community park complete with amenities and facilities. The park adds to nearby parkland and will be located on a four-acre parcel of land that will serve as a recreational hub that connects to the main public gathering spaces in town. Also connected to the elementary, middle, and high schools, public recreation center, and senior assisted living center, the park will encourage activity by community members and visitors of all ages.
Construction of the Missing Link of the 10-Mile Redlands Loop Trail, $500,000 to the City of Grand Junction
Funding will support the City of Grand Junction and Colorado West Land Trust in bridging the final 1.5-mile gap, also known as the "Missing Link," in the 10-mile Redlands Loop trail. Located in the footsteps of the Colorado National Monument, the paved Redlands Loop serves the Monument Corridor as a direct connection between the heart of downtown Grand Junction and the great outdoors. Driven by resident input, the proposed trail project connects neighborhoods, the Colorado Riverfront, and downtown Grand Junction to the Lunch Loop Trailhead, the most visited trailhead in Mesa County.
Loma Playground Improvement Project, $250,362 to Mesa County
Funding will assist Mesa County and Loma Elementary School in creating an intergenerational schoolyard where all members of the community can access physical activity in an area with limited, meaningful park space. GOCO funding will support age-appropriate playground equipment, items for a fitness circuit, a walking path, and improved sports courts. Local residents and businesses provided significant cash and in-kind contributions, showcasing the project’s intergenerational significance and deep community support.
GOCO’s land acquisition program supports urban and rural landscape, waterway, and habitat protection priorities and improves access to the outdoors.
Schutt Wetlands Conservation Easement, $127,000 to the Crested Butte Land Trust
Funding will help the Crested Butte Land Trust permanently conserve 107 acres of private land adjacent to the town of Crested Butte with a conservation easement. The project will protect critical wetlands, grazed pasture land, and a significant reach of the Slate River. The property is the last undeveloped large open space separating the town and neighborhoods to the south and provides habitat for nesting birds, fish, and big game species that can all be viewed from the highway and adjacent public open space.
Lewis Farm CE and Immersive Agricultural Experience, $1,500,000 to Trust for Public Land
Funding will help Trust for Public Land (TPL) acquire a 226-acre farm and its water rights adjacent to the Little Thompson River near Berthoud. The property will be protected via a conservation easement and continue operations as a working farm with an added focus on agricultural conservation. The easement will be held by the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT), and the property will be owned and managed by the Colorado Future Farmers of America Foundation (Colorado FFA Foundation). The Colorado FFA Foundation will operate the site as an immersive agricultural experience for youth and the public along Colorado’s Front Range in collaboration with a variety of youth-serving organizations. These opportunities will illustrate the value of land and water conservation to the public.
GOCO’s stewardship impact program supports collaborative stewardship work that demonstrates meaningful improvements to ecological and recreational amenities.
The funded project:
Empowering Community-led Stewardship in Commerce City and Aurora, $147,092 to Wildlands Restoration Volunteers and Commerce City
Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) will work with organizations Promotores Verdes and Cultivando to expand access to natural spaces and build community capacity to confront environmental inequities. Project partners will identify and organize community-led stewardship projects in and around Aurora and Commerce City, including at the Rocky Mountain National Arsenal Wildlife Refuge and Barr Lake State Park. Projects will include tree planting in low-canopy areas, native and pollinator plantings, seed collection, and invasive species removal. They will be led by community members who complete leadership training provided by WRV and its partners in English and Spanish.
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.
Gunnison Wet Meadows Restoration and Resilience Building Project, $158,100 to the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District
Funding will help the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District expand meadow restoration in the Upper Gunnison River watershed and support restoration work in neighboring San Miguel, Mesa, and Eagle counties. The project will implement low-tech processes that restore stream and meadow function; reduce erosion; improve habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species like the threatened Gunnison Sage Grouse; and increase soil moisture to address impacts of drought, wildfire, and climate change. Funds will support training, site planning, and increase the project coalition’s capacity to implement more projects annually and leverage increasing federal and state funding opportunities.
Preserving Culture and Enhancing Habitat Resilience through Traditional Harvest Planning, $55,014 to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Habitat degradation in native plant communities on tribal lands has impaired ecological function, diminished important wildlife habitat, and threatens the preservation of tribal cultural traditions, such as harvesting traditional plants from their native landscapes for ceremony and other cultural uses. Funding will support several activities, including an inventory and assessment of the condition of known harvest locations to identify restoration and resilience-building needs. In addition, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe will collaborate with Montezuma Land Conservancy to explore improved access to traditional harvest on private ancestral lands. They will also engage the tribal community to co-create a Traditional Harvest Plan that will allow for sustainable harvest of culturally important plants for future generations.
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 5,500 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.