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Great Outdoors Colorado Grants $7.7M to Support Statewide Conservation, Recreation Projects

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The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board on Friday awarded a total of $6,759,561 in grants to help fund 13 projects across the state supporting conservation, recreation, and visioning efforts. In addition, the board approved a $1 million investment in the collaboratively funded RESTORE Colorado program, which supports habitat restoration and stewardship projects on public and private conservation lands in Colorado for the benefit of wildlife and local communities.

The majority of the funding, totaling $6,319,511, will support 10 projects as part of GOCO’s base programs: community impact, land acquisition, stewardship impact, and planning and capacity.

Base program projects will: 

  • Permanently protect over 18,000 acres of land supporting wildlife and conservation values.
  • Restore the iconic Hanging Lake Trail and surrounds to address extensive damage from debris flows in the Grizzly Creek Fire’s burn scar area. 
  • Build and revitalize parks in Loveland, Dillon, and Leadville to expand access to recreation opportunities for people of all abilities. 
  • Support Denver in building its urban tree canopy and expanding the community’s ability to sustain its urban forest. 
  • Develop career pathways and representative leadership in the conservation field and better engage local communities in planning and decision-making. 

Additional funding, totaling $440,050, was awarded through GOCO’s Centennial Program, which helps partners thoughtfully plan for high-value, once-in-a-generation visions and projects that will create lasting impacts on the Centennial State and future generations. 

Base Programs

Community Impact

GOCO’s community impact program develops and revitalizes parks, trails, schoolyards, fairgrounds, environmental education facilities, and other outdoor projects that enhance a community’s quality of life and access to the outdoors. Projects include:

Hanging Lake Trail Emergency Restoration Project, $2,282,000 to National Forest Foundation and the City of Glenwood Springs

The popular Hanging Lake Trail located in the White River National Forest was forced to close in July 2021 following extensive damage by debris flows in the Grizzly Creek Fire’s burn scar area. The landslides took down bridges and trees and buried the recreational area in rubble. The trial’s closure forced the cancellation of more than 15,000 trail reservations. Funding will support survey work, design, and reconstruction of a more resilient and sustainable trail to Hanging Lake. Proposed ecological and habitat restoration work includes restoring both the natural landscape surrounding the trail and an adjacent stream to minimize future erosion events and protect water quality.

Willow Bend Park, Trail and Natural Area – Hub of Inclusive Recreation Opportunities, $988,000 to the City of Loveland

Funding will support the City of Loveland in developing its first inclusive neighborhood park, including a playground, trail, and natural area dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities and their families, friends, and caregivers. The 79-acre outdoor recreation hub is located on city-owned property along East 1st Street in the historically under-served southeast Loveland area. The park will be located near partner organizations aligned with the project’s mission to advance equity and inclusion, including the Boys & Girls Club of Larimer County and Loveland Youth Gardeners.

Town of Dillon Town Park Master Plan Phase 1B Implementation, $456,395 to the Town of Dillon

The Town of Dillon will update the Town Park to increase opportunities for multi-generational outdoor recreation and foster greater economic and community vitality. Funding will help purchase and install nature-themed playground equipment and a climbing wall. The $2.7 million renovation project includes a new multi-use sports field, new and safer walking paths, park landscaping, landscape lighting, a shade structure, and relocation of the existing restroom. The park master plan was designed with extensive community input, in part funded by a $60,000 GOCO planning grant in 2016.

Inclusive Recreation Opportunities Huck Finn Bike Park, $152,512 to Lake County

Funding will support the renovation of Huck Finn Park in Leadville, enhancing recreational access and community vitality at the centrally located park by offering a paved pump track that accommodates a wide range of wheeled sports and is more user-friendly for beginner riders, as well as reducing safety and maintenance concerns with the existing structure. The updated park will offer a wide range of features for users of all abilities as a multi-use facility with an asphalt pump track, progressive skill features, jumps, and various shade and seating structures to enhance family gatherings. Lake County aims to have the new pump track completed and open to the public by fall of 2022.

Land Acquisition

GOCO’s land acquisition program supports urban and rural landscape, waterway, and habitat protection priorities and improves access to the outdoors. Projects include:

Heartland Ranch – Jagers Phase II & III, $1,200,000 to Southern Plains Land Trust

Funding will allow Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) to purchase 17,887 acres of shortgrass prairie to expand Heartland Ranch Preserve in Bent County.  This acquisition will contribute to the permanent protection of 42,661 total acres (or 67 square miles) at the preserve. The land includes grasslands, springs, streams, prairie dog colonies, rock-covered mesas, and cottonwood and willow stands. SPLT engages in many critical conservation efforts at Heartland, including the restoration of priority species such as the American bison, black-footed ferret, and prairie elk, and works to restore river areas and protect grassland birds. At least 35 wildlife species of greatest conservation need will benefit from the expansion of the biodiverse property.

Shawn Andrick Memorial Preserve: Phase 3, $500,000 to Central Colorado Conservancy

Funding will allow the Central Colorado Conservancy to add eight additional parcels containing 161 acres of land and nearly one mile of Arkansas River frontage to Shawn Andrick Memorial Preserve. In addition to purchasing the land, the Conservancy will develop a management plan in coordination with local partners Colorado Open Lands (COL) and Lake County. The acquisition will double the size of the existing preserve, protecting critical wildlife habitat and migration corridors, while also expanding public access to nearly three miles of the Arkansas River. Upon completion of the management plan in 2023, partners will allow public access to the property, while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of habitat and wildlife protection.

Stewardship Impact

GOCO’s stewardship impact program supports collaborative stewardship work that demonstrates meaningful improvements to ecological and recreational amenities. Projects include:

Community-Engaged Urban Forestry Stewardship, $300,000 to the City and County of Denver

Funding will support Denver’s Department of Parks & Recreation, in partnership with The Park People and The Nature Conservancy, in building a thriving urban tree canopy. Urban trees contribute to resident health and quality of life, but Denver’s tree canopy is currently underplanted, threatened by invasive pests, and inequitably distributed. The project will address these challenges with forestry investments and resources focused on engagement and support for the lowest-canopy, lowest-income neighborhoods. It will also build the neighborhoods’ capacities to steward their own forests while providing meaningful career paths for community members.

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. Projects include:

Supporting and Development Equity in the Outdoors through Crew-based Programming, $200,000 to Southwest Conservation Corps

Funding will allow Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) to hire two seasonal field supervisors focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) – one in the SCC’s Four Corners region and one in SCC’s Los Valles region – and will support DEI staff training and corps recruitment efforts. The project supports SCC’s key priority to develop career pathways and representative leadership opportunities in stewardship. The grant will build upon previous foundational work that established affinity groups for underrepresented SCC participants and identified the need for training, support, and resources to create equitable outdoor spaces and encourage program participation.

Increasing Capacity to Improve Stewardship, Conserve Land and Advance Equity, $189,404 to Estes Valley Land Trust

Funding will support Estes Valley Land Trust (EVLT) in hiring a stewardship manager, a part-time land agent, and a part-time high school intern. The added capacity will support the implementation of the land trust’s GOCO-funded 2020 Estes Valley Open Space Plan focused on conservation, land stewardship, and outdoor access. The new stewardship manager will establish partnerships with forest health and fire management agencies and funding will also support EVLT in engaging historically under-represented communities, including the Indigenous community that was displaced from the Estes Valley in the 19th century but still calls the landscape home. EVLT will also partner with Estes Park School District to better engage local youth and families.

Wiley’s Great Outdoors– Creating a Master Plan for Rural SE CO, $51,200 grant to the Town of Wiley

Funding will support the Town of Wiley to develop an outdoor recreation master plan with support from consultants in facilitating community engagement activities and producing the final plan. The plan will outline feasible outdoor recreation opportunities prioritized by the community along with funding options for implementation. Partners in this project include the Town of Wiley, the Wiley School District, Wiley Lions Club, the Wiley Methodist Church, Prowers Economic Prosperity, and the Southern Colorado Economic Development District.

Centennial Program Grants

Creating Sustainable Recreation Opportunities across Colorado’s Iconic 14ers, $147,000 grant  to the National Forest Foundation and Chaffee County

With this funding, the National Forest Foundation and Chaffee County will convene over 20 partners including outdoor recreation organizations, sovereign tribal nations, and local communities to create a shared vision for sustainable recreation across Colorado’s 14ers. Partners will identify a statewide, scaled approach to meet trail sustainability, resource protection, and outdoor recreation access goals. Partners will also identify an investment plan for sustainably funding future work. The effort will consider equitable access to these sites and how to break down local barriers to the outdoors while considering needs for visitor use, trail and other recreation experiences, and cultural or tribal significance. The visioning process will occur over 18 months beginning in the spring of 2022.

Clifton Community Commons, $147,300 grant to Mesa County

Through the Clifton Community Commons plan, Mesa County and community partners will evaluate how to connect and enhance existing schoolyards and neighborhood parks, explore improved access to the Colorado Riverfront, and identify opportunities for expanding Clifton-area open spaces. Clifton Community Commons will serve Clifton residents and improve connections between the area and the greater Grand Valley Region. Visioning work will capitalize on the momentum of other river-focused groups to seek a potential path for the Colorado Riverfront Trail from Clifton to Palisade.

High Line Canal Trail Completion, Access and Activation in Denver and Aurora, $145,750

The High Line Canal Conservancy, in partnership with the City and County of Denver and the City of Aurora, will improve access to the High Line Canal Trail. The High Line Canal Trail Completion, Access and Activation program will use resident-led engagement to design community-driven trail improvements and accelerate those of highest priority, including the northeast sections of the trail in Denver and Aurora that run through 15 distinct neighborhoods. The conservancy will also develop plans to upgrade the trail with tree plantings, signage, gathering areas, fitness stations, shade structures, nature play areas, and other amenities to make it a more engaging destination for recreation and community health. The resulting work will close trail gaps, establish needed access points, improve environmental health, and enhance the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents.

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.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Great Outdoors Colorado Grants .7M to Support Statewide Conservation, Recreation Projects! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/press-releases/great-outdoors-colorado-grants-7-7m-to-support-statewide-conservation-recreation-projects/