DENVER – The GOCO Board awarded $500,000 in funding on Thursday for Colorado communities to employ Youth Corps crews on projects ranging from restoration work and trail construction to fire mitigation and invasive species removal.
GOCO awards Youth Corps funding through the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA), a statewide coalition of nine accredited youth corps groups that engage and train youth, young adults, and veterans (ages 14-25) to work on land, water, and energy conservation projects.
Corps members earn a stipend for their full-time service and an AmeriCorps education award to use toward college or trade school. The organization serves 1,700 young people annually.
As part of this round of grants, CYCA and will employ crews from seven Youth Corps across the state to work on 15 projects in 12 counties. They will construct or rehabilitate 22.67 miles of trail; construct 6,500 feet of fencing; mitigate fire on 29.5 acres of land; remove invasive species on 148 acres; and restore .54 miles of river habitat.
The $500,000 in funding covers the grant awards for the projects as well as administration of the Youth Corps program.
Grant details are as follows:
Baxter Gulch Trail and Crested Butte Open Space Stewardship, $25,200 to the Town of Crested Butte
With assistance from GOCO, the Town of Crested Butte and Crested Butte Land Trust have worked collaboratively to conserve over 1,000 acres in the Gunnison Valley, including 13 miles of trail used by hikers, bikers, and equestrian users. Multiple users on the conserved land and an increased number of visitors to Crested Butte create a greater need for stewardship, which is why Western Colorado Conservation Corps (WCCC) will spend four weeks trail building—finishing one remaining mile of the Baxter Gulch Trail—and removing noxious weeds. The project will wrap up six years of trail work.
Black Forest Area Trails and Forest Restoration, $45,000 to El Paso County
Crews from Mile High Youth Corps-Southern Front Range (MHYC-SFR) will mark and clear trail paths, construct and close trails, and thin live and dead standing trees within Black Forest Regional Park, along the Palmer Divide northeast of Colorado Springs, and at the Pineries Open Space in El Paso County in order to improve ground cover, reduce stormwater runoff, and increase water infiltration. The project will increase recreation access and assist with recovery from the Black Forest Fire of 2013.
Cerise Park Open Space Invasive Weed Management, $13,800 to the City of Montrose
The City of Montrose parks staff will oversee a WCCC chainsaw and pesticide application crew as they spray or remove Russian olive, tamarisk, thistle, and white top; plant native species; and reseed with native grasses on land surrounding the nine miles of new trails around Cerise Park in Montrose’s downtown area. The work will also help formalize the new trail network created in 2015.
City of Greeley Natural Area Improvement, $41,700 to the City of Greeley
Weld County Youth Conservation Corps (WCYCC) will improve four of Greeley’s natural areas through the removal of Russian olive trees and unneeded fencing. Crews will remove trees on one acre of the 10-acre Mountain Shadows Natural Area and on 2.5 acres of the Country Club West Natural Area. The two areas where fencing will be removed are Sheep Draw Natural Area and Cottonwood Bend Natural Area, both located along the Cache la Poudre River and acquired with funding from GOCO’s River Initiative grant program.
Duckett Creek Ranch Fire Mitigation and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement, $22,500 to San Isabel Land Protection Trust
Crews from Mile High Youth Corps - Southern Front Range will be deployed to Duckett Creek Ranch on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Westcliffe. With the greater goals of wildlife habitat improvement, future fire mitigation, and scenic view improvement for public enjoyment, youth will remove burned debris and treat invasive vegetation.
Hermit Park Open Space New Trail Construction, $40,200 to Larimer County Dept. of Natural Resources
Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) will assist in completing one of the three remaining miles of a new multi-use trail at Hermit Park Open Space, connecting the perimeter trail to the Hermit’s Cabin Trailhead. These efforts will continue work begun in 2016 and bring the park one step closer to the completion of its full trail system.
Intemann Trail Fire Mitigation Project, $30,000 to City of Manitou Springs
For four weeks, youth from MHYC-SFR will work on fire mitigation along the Intemann Trail on the southern trail boundary of Manitou Springs, creating a critical fire break in an area at high risk for wildfires. The trail is a popular recreation destination for local residents and tourists.
John Griffin Regional Park Tamarisk and Russian Olive Abatement, $30,000 to Cañon City Area Metro Rec and Park District
Mile High Youth Corps - Southern Front Range will be employed to remove invasive species from a 19-acre portion of John Griffin Regional Park. Tamarisk and Russian olive trees are detrimental to a habitat ripe with native plants and wildlife.
Las Colonias Park Riparian Area, $17,550 to the City of Grand Junction
The City of Grand Junction, Ducks Unlimited, and Tamarisk Coalition are partnering to conserve 25 acres of habitat adjacent to the Colorado River at Las Colonias Park. Goals of the project include providing wildlife with slough habitat and increasing public support for wetlands. A new channel will be excavated so new vegetation and forest can be established. WCCC will also assist with planning. This project also received a GOCO habitat restoration grant.
Montezuma School to Farm Manaugh Garden Project and Ohana Kuleana Community Garden, $25,200 to the City of Cortez
The Montezuma School to Farm Project (MSTFP), a program of the Mancos Conservation District, and the Garden Project of Southwest Colorado (GPSWC) will train and work with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) to install the foundation of a new school garden at Manaugh Grade School in the Cortez School District, and to build an outdoor classroom at the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden in Durango. Together the projects will serve over 1,200 youth and adults annually.
Phantom Canyon Preserve River Trail, $37,800 to The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Located in the Laramie Foothills of Larimer County, Phantom Canyon Preserve is one of the last remaining roadless canyons along Colorado’s Front Range. The trail alongside the river in the canyon bottom is impermanent due to overgrown vegetation, and as a result, the river corridor is negatively impacted and invasive species are making headway. Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) will help establish a sustainable river trail.
Spring Creek Park Maintenance and Mitigation, $26,400 to the Town of Brookside
An 18-acre park with native vegetation, Brookside’s Spring Creek Park requires maintenance, including sealing a two-rail fence, pedestrian bridge, and benches; repainting a restroom; and completing remedial trail work. In addition, Mile High Youth Corps - Southern Front Range crews will remove dead trees, trim trees, and apply pesticide to web-worm infested trees to mitigate risk of fire.
Spring Creek Trail Restoration, $12,150 to the City of Steamboat Springs
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) will work to build on previous projects on Spring Creek Trail in Routt County to enhance trail safety, prevent erosion, and protect the creek’s water quality. Work will focus on areas of significant erosion and include tasks such as creating three new water diversion or erosion control structures, rebuilding damaged trailhead, resurfacing an eroded bridge deck, and completing vegetation management on 900 feet of trail.
Swallowtail and Ringtail Trail Corridor, $27,600 grant to Douglas County Open Space
Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) crews will assist with clearing paths, erosion control, and surface work along 10 miles of trail within Douglas County’s Nelson Ranch and Pike Hill Open Space properties, improving trail conditions and safety for a variety of user types, including hikers, bikers, and equestrian users.
Swift Ponds Russian Olive Removal and Noxious Weed Management, $41,700 to Colorado Open Lands (COL)
Colorado Open Lands (COL), Weld County Youth Conservation Corps (WCYCC), and Larimer County Weed District, along with Colorado Youth Outdoors, owners of Swift Ponds, have partnered to improve Swift Ponds open space. Crews will remove Russian olive trees and mitigate noxious weeds, including Canada thistle. Invasive species threaten the viability of native plants, negatively impact critical habitat, and compromise safety. This project also received a GOCO habitat restoration grant.
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 4,800 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.