Diane Metzger, GOCO Communications Manager

DENVER – Today, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded $68,878,420 in grant awards through its Centennial Program, which invests in high-value, once-in-a-generation visions and projects that will create lasting impacts on the Centennial State and future generations.

Competitive Centennial grants totaling $33,992,920 were awarded to seven projects that are getting ahead of Colorado’s population growth, visitation to natural places, stressors on habitats and wildlife, and inequities in outdoor access. They join two other Centennial projects awarded a total of $5,000,000 in December 2023.

These nine Centennial projects will:

  • Help conserve 3,246 acres of land rich in natural resources, wildlife, and recreation potential.
  • Contribute to regional trail projects that, once complete, will traverse a total of 276 miles.
  • Impact around 78% of Colorado’s population, or 4,517,913 people, who live within a 20-mile radius of the projects.
  • Represent a combined 132 years of visioning, planning, and implementation work to date.

In addition, the GOCO board committed to $34,885,500 in investments for CPW Centennial projects. Details of these investments will be shared after further visioning.

The nine competitive Centennial grant awards include:

Statewide Natural Heritage Survey, $7,892,920 to the Colorado Natural Heritage Program at Colorado State University

GOCO’s largest-ever investment in data, this funding will help the Colorado Natural Heritage Program conduct the Statewide Natural Heritage Survey over the next five years, generating–for the very first time–a uniform and reliable baseline measurement of the state’s biodiversity. This information will be instrumental in Colorado’s ongoing and future conservation and recreation planning efforts, and may deliver new discoveries related to Colorado’s natural resources and wildlife. Data gathering will engage both professional scientists and interested community members. As results come in, they will become publicly available, free of charge on Colorado’s Conservation Data Explorer (CODEX) website. Colorado Parks and Wildlife contributed $500,000 to this project.

Completion of the Eagle Valley Trail, $7,000,000 to Eagle County

Funding will help Eagle County complete the last 7.5 miles of the 63-mile Eagle Valley Trial (EVT), which runs from the top of Vail Pass to Glenwood Canyon through Vail, Minturn, Eagle, Vail, Avon, Arrowhead, Edwards, Wolcott, Eagle, Gypsum, and Dotsero. The finished trail will connect over 140 miles of additional regional trail systems in nearby Summit, Pitkin, and Garfield Counties. Once completed, users will be able to hike, run, or ride from Breckenridge to Aspen without riding on a highway. The EVT will bolster Colorado's unique recreation opportunities, drive tourism, and enhance quality of life through improved connectivity and access. Construction of the final segment will begin in 2024, with a grand opening slated for late 2025.

High Line Canal Community-Centered Improvements, $7,000,000 to High Line Canal Conservancy, the City and County of Denver, Arapahoe County, and the City of Aurora

Funding will help the High Line Canal Conservancy and partners revitalize the High Line Canal trail’s 28-mile northeast segment, which runs through Denver, Adams and Arapahoe counties, and the city of Aurora. This section is located in some of the state’s most diverse and under-resourced communities who identified underinvestment, safety concerns, and difficult entry points as some of the main barriers to trail access. Seven years of community-led visioning and planning informed a series of planned trail upgrades to improve user access, increase active use, and enhance the Canal’s environmental health. These improvements will expand use of the High Line Canal trail with close-to-home opportunities for recreation and relaxation, provide connections to schools, and expand access to other community spaces.

Peaks to Plains Trail - Huntsman Segment, $7,000,000 to Jefferson County

Funding will help Jefferson County construct the three-mile Huntsman Segment in Clear Creek Canyon Park, a significant milestone towards the envisioned 65-mile Peaks to Plains Trail (P2P). Construction of this particular segment is complicated because of rugged and vertical terrain, bodies of water to work around, and the presence of federally threatened species. Once complete, it will include ADA-accessible concrete trail, eight new bridges, two trailheads with amenities, and creek access areas. Entry points will include parking for over 100 cars and will act as hubs for diverse recreational experiences. The segment will also connect visitors with recreational activities in Clear Creek Canyon Park like boating, climbing, fishing, hiking, mountain, gravel, road biking, and more.

The Colorado 14ers Centennial Project, $3,200,000 to the National Forest Foundation and Chaffee County

Funding will help the National Forest Foundation, Chaffee County, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, and Envision Chaffee County coordinate with land managers and partner organizations across the state to enhance the resilience of Colorado’s “fourteeners” or mountains over 14,000 feet. Colorado’s 58 fourteeners (more than any other state in the country) drive significant tourism, are considered a key part of diverse community and cultural identities, and provide habitat for rare wildlife and plant species specific to fragile, high alpine ecosystems. However, they face many challenges caused by increased visitation. Partners will implement a series of 20 demonstration projects that address natural resource and infrastructure concerns. Activities will not only protect sensitive habitats but will also support more equitable mountain access and the vitality of nearby communities.

Heaven's Door Ranch Acquisition: Future Northern Colorado Open Space, $1,500,000 to Larimer County

Funding will help Larimer County permanently protect the 1,547-acre Heaven’s Door Ranch near Loveland. Larimer County’s Department of Natural Resources worked for 20 years to protect this critical “puzzle piece” that completes the connection between several conserved lands in the area. The acquisition serves as a cornerstone of the county’s conservation strategy in this high-priority area. It comes as the region faces a growing population, development pressure, and demands for more public access to the outdoors. The property boasts diverse wildlife habitats and movement corridors, and its open space and scenic vistas will eventually provide a much-needed, close-to-home, nature-based recreation opportunity for the Northern Front Range.

Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds & Crystal Lake Master Plan, $400,000 to the City of Rocky Ford

The Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds host the 145-year-old “oldest continuous fair in the State of Colorado” while also supporting community events, athletics, and youth organizations such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America. Adjacent to the fairgrounds, Crystal Lake offers opportunities for expanded recreation that could better serve the growing region. Funding will help the City of Rocky Ford continue its planning efforts to revitalize these two local amenities to support outdoor recreation and access. GOCO-funded visioning efforts launched in summer of 2022 produced a comprehensive concept for the revitalized properties. Through community engagement, partners identified an opportunity to partner with the City of Aurora to provide public access to nearly 5,000 acres of formerly agricultural land it owns stretching along the Arkansas River from Manzanola to Swink.

Lost Canyon Ranch, $3,000,000 to the Town of Castle Rock and The Conservation Fund (awarded in December 2023)

Funding is helping the Town of Castle Rock and The Conservation Fund permanently protect the 682-acre Lost Canyon Ranch next to Castlewood Canyon State Park. The ranch represents the largest one-time purchase and protection of open space in the Town of Castle Rock’s history. It will expand much-desired recreational opportunities for the Front Range amid intense pressure to develop. If this land is not protected, eventual development would have significant impacts to wildlife and visitor experience in the adjacent Castlewood Canyon State Park. The property provides diverse wildlife habitat, is a migration corridor, and contains Franktown Cave, a prehistoric archaeological site where artifacts dating back 8,000 years were discovered. The property has the potential to be the biggest nearby outdoor recreation space for Castle Rock and Douglas County, and offers unique recreational opportunities within minutes of I-25.

Wild Horse Ranch, $2,000,000 to the City of Colorado Springs (awarded in December 2023)

Funding helped the City of Colorado Springs conserve the 1,018-acre Wild Horse Ranch located directly south of State Highway 94 in east Colorado Springs, a rapidly growing area with few outdoor recreation opportunities. Because of its prime location, the property was sought after by developers. Within the year prior to purchase, it went through two pending sales for private use, both of which were rescinded. When the property came on the market again in late 2022, City of Colorado Springs staff, with help from The Conservation Fund, worked swiftly to acquire it, closing in May 2023 for $7,657,588. The property boasts unique geologic features, wildlife habitat, stunning views of Pikes Peak, and areas of paleontological importance. The city plans to undergo master planning for the site that will include environmental and cultural studies and explore opportunities for passive recreation.

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 5,700 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit for more information.