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GOCO board commits $16.4 million in funding to support Generation Wild communities and conservation service corps projects

Thursday, December 10, 2020 -- GOCO
December 10, 2020

                                                                                                                                      Generation Wild of the Pikes Peak Region. Photo by moxie82inc.

DENVER - Today the GOCO board committed $16,477,189 in funding to support 10 Generation Wild communities and awarded grants for 27 Conservation Service Corps projects across Colorado.

The majority of the funding, totaling $15,486,389, will support Generation Wild’s community-based coalitions, which have been breaking down barriers to the outdoors through new places to play, outdoor programs and activities, and employment opportunities in the outdoors. To date, GOCO has invested $40.4 million in the program, including $25 million in the past five years and $15.4 million in today’s commitments for 10 coalitions.

Collectively, the coalitions’ more than 470 partnering organizations, including local governments, schools, health-based organizations, and youth-serving nonprofits, have delivered 2,140 programs and impacted 40,000 youth. The new funding will help coalitions reach more youth and families; expand and enhance accessible, culturally relevant programming; provide jobs, internships, and other pathways to outdoor careers for diverse groups; and continue to engage in community building and strengthen partnership networks that will endure into the future.

The rest of the funding, totaling $990,800, was awarded through GOCO’s Conservation Service Corps grant program, run in partnership with Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA), which helps local governments and land trusts hire conservation service corps for outdoor recreation and natural resource stewardship projects. CYCA represents a statewide coalition of eight accredited corps that train youth, young adults, and veterans to work on land and water conservation projects. Corps members earn a stipend for their service and an AmeriCorps education award to use toward college or reducing existing student loans. 

The conservation service corps grants will be put to work to:

  • Complete 27 projects in 20 counties
  • Restore and rebuild 60 miles of trail
  • Reduce wildlife risk on 200 acres of land
  • Clear 870 acres of invasive plant and weed species
  • Employ 250 young adults for 95 weeks of stewardship work

Generation Wild Funding

Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM), $310,000 commitment to Eagle County

Supported by Eagle County, EVOM partners, including the coordinating organization Walking Mountains Science Center and 13 additional program providers, will use the GOCO funds to continue to offer engaging educational programs during the school day and out-of-school hours for area youth in preschool through twelfth grade. The group aims to expand its outdoor education school programs to all schools and grade levels in Eagle County and also increase family activities. Partners will provide opportunities for outdoor exploration and adventure, including camping, hiking, rock climbing, and learning wilderness survival skills. 

The coalition will strengthen its community-centered approach to ensure its programs respond to community needs and reinforce its focus on encouraging underrepresented youth to explore the possibilities of future careers in the outdoors. To do so, EVOM will build on its internship and leadership development offerings in which high school students learn to apply outdoor skills and become outdoor leaders.

Generation Wild Northeast Metro Coalition (GWNEMC), $1,991,889 commitment to City of Commerce City

Together with the City of Commerce City, City of Aurora, and City and County of Denver, GWNEMC’s partner organizations work together to provide outdoor recreation activities and environmental education for youth and families. To date, the coalition has delivered 800 programs for area youth and families. In addition, they offer pathway opportunities, which are internships and employment in outdoor recreation, wildlands, and conservation. 

GWNEMC will use the new Generation Wild funding to continue to serve highest-need communities at a deeper level and expand coalition programs to additional schools and neighborhoods. The coalition will offer a wide array of programs, from after-school programs to weekend field trips and adventure clubs. Youth and community members will be able to participate in family nature events in their local parks and natural areas. Funds awarded will also provide the coalition with capacity support needed to coordinate the large coalition and support a youth council that helps inform coalition direction.

Program partners include Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Bluff Lake Nature Center, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Mile High Youth Corps, Environmental Learning for Kids, The Urban Farm, Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership, Groundwork Denver, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Generation Wild of the Pikes Peak Region (GWPPR), $1,000,000 commitment to City of Colorado Springs

Supported by the City of Colorado Springs, GWPPR works with community-based organizations to bring to life a full spectrum of programs driving toward the primary goal: reconnect kids with nature and get them to experience the incredible benefits right outside their door. GWPPR’s funding will allow the coalition to offer new programming to the community through its partner organizations.

Through free and affordable programs, younger kids explore nature close to home or at their District 11 and Harrison School District 2 schools, and older kids experience adventure in Colorado’s backcountry. The coalition also provides paid internships and positions at partner organizations, providing young people the opportunity to develop teaching skills, learn about natural resources, and gain the skills needed to become camp counselors.

In the next phase, the community has expressed interest in more family and multi-generational programs, events, and activities. New funding will also support GWPPR in strengthening its community-led model to ensure the coalition is responsive to community needs and providing additional training for partners in topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion so they can better connect with community members.

Coalition partners include Catamount Institute, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Kids on Bikes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Springs Community Centers, UpaDowna, YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, Mile High Youth Corps, Fountain Creek Watershed District, the Southeast RISE Coalition, Hillside Connection, and Blackpackers.

Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!), $1,500,000 commitment to Lake County

Supported by Lake County, Lake County Public Health Agency, and many other funders, GOL!’s 20 coalition partners, including Lake County School District, Colorado Mountain College (CMC), and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, provide youth with outdoor programs during the school year, after-school nature clubs and enrichments, summer camps, and winter sports opportunities. Students engage in programs related to environmental education and stewardship, place-based academic fieldwork, and outdoor recreation, including mountain biking, hiking, and fishing.

Close integration with the school district has allowed GOL! to help Lake County bring curriculum-driven, nature-based learning opportunities to Lake County’s 1,100 K-12 students and to offer partnership-driven, out-of-school-time programs year-round.

The new GOCO funding will support the Get Outdoors Leadville! coalition in continuing to offer its outdoor programs as well as paid internships for high school students and young adults. Internships include summer camp counselor positions, environmental science internships with CMC, and assisting with programs in GOL!’s gear lending library, which will open its permanent facility to the community in January 2021.

In the new phase of work, GOL! will use its Generation Wild funding to continue to serve the county’s diverse community and inspire deeper connections to nature. GOL! will improve upon the programs and experiences it has offered over the past four years, continuing to seek community input on its offerings as it works to ensure that nature-based learning and engaging outdoor experiences are a part of daily life for more Lake County youth and families. The coalition hopes to further amplify voices of community leaders and invite in more diverse leadership to better mirror the equity values and cultural responsiveness GOL! strives to embody while deepening community partnerships and program integration.

Montezuma Inspire Coalition (MIC), $2,250,000 commitment to Montezuma Land Conservancy

Since 2017, MIC, led by Montezuma Land Conservancy, has offered programs that fit into the school day, made transportation and gear for outdoor experiences more readily available, created opportunities to build outdoor knowledge and skills, and provided free activities for older youth in safe places. New GOCO funding will ensure continuity of these offerings and help MIC’s 11 partner organizations increase program participation.

Working closely with school districts in Dolores, Mancos, and Cortez, MIC has enhanced and developed integrated, standards-aligned outdoor programs and field trips for students. It has also implemented after-school and summer programs, including field trips and family activities, which expand from the backyard to the backcountry as youths grow older and their skills build. 

MIC also created mentorship, internship, and job training opportunities for area youth to develop leadership skills and explore pathways to future careers in the outdoors. Moving forward the coalition expects to provide up to 88 pathway opportunities each year.

The coalition also aims to adapt or develop data-informed programming to expand its relevance to and impact on participants and also increase opportunities to engage the local Native American community.

My Outdoor Colorado (MOC), $3,000,000 commitment to City and County of Denver

Since 2016, in partnership with the City and County of Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department, two coalitions, MOC Westwood and MOC Cole, have worked to connect youth to the outdoors, fostering well being and an appreciation of nature. The coalitions, which have now merged, formed strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to provide youth with access to nature education, recreation, and skillbuilding. 

The coalition’s programs engage families, youth, and young adults in outdoor activities that meet their comfort levels, developmental stages, and growing outdoor skills and interests. Outdoor recreation offerings include hiking, snowshoeing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, rafting, and backpacking. The coalition also offers a range of family programs, such as Saturday family adventures, family nature clubs, and family camping trips. 

With the new GOCO funding, the coalition’s 11 partnering entities will continue to deliver these equitable, culturally responsive outdoor programs. Youth will also have opportunities to work on stewardship projects, receive training and education in leading bilingual programs in the community, and earn certifications related to outdoor safety. The coalition will continue its pathway programs, which encourage youth to explore outdoor careers, through Mile High Youth Corps and other partners. 

MOC will continue to serve as a model for the City and County of Denver, which plans to grow outdoor programs and pathway offerings within its Park and Recreation Department so that more marginalized youth and families within the community have access to positive outdoor experiences and job opportunities.

Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza (NKJN), $1,000,000 commitment to City of Lafayette

NKJN’s 39 partnering organizations, led by Thorne Nature Experience, help deliver programming for pre-K to high school aged youth, including classroom, afterschool, and field trip opportunities as well as summer experiences that range from summer camps to family programs. The coalition focuses on serving youth who attend five Boulder Valley School District schools: Sanchez, Pioneer, and Ryan Elementary Schools; Angevine Middle School; and Centaurus High School.

The new GOCO funding will support two more years of programming and provide resources to plan for expanding offerings to Longmont and Boulder. It will also help fund ongoing pathway programs, which encourage youth to explore the possibility of future careers in the outdoors.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the coalition is working to identify how it might pivot to provide nature- and outdoor-based childcare to support parents impacted by school closures and to offer older youth paid employment opportunities to help address the financial impacts on Lafayette youth and families.

SLV Generation Wild, $1,934,500 commitment to City of Alamosa

Since 2016, in partnership with the City of Alamosa and the Towns of Antonito, Creede, and Saguache, two coalitions, Recreation Inspires Opportunity (Alamosa RIO!) and San Luis Valley Inspire, have worked to connect Valley youth to the outdoors. The coalitions, which have now merged to streamline program opportunities for all ages and across all counties, formed strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to offer a range of outdoor programs to meet the needs of youth, from kindergarten to high-school ages. 

They also created new pathways-to-employment opportunities for youth and young adults through internships, scholarships, and youth counselor positions, encouraging the next generation to consider careers in the outdoors and environmental education.

The new GOCO funding will allow the coalition to bolster community outreach efforts and provide diverse programming that aligns with the cultures, values, and goals of the community. The funding will enhance the coordination of the backyard-to-backcountry outdoor programs and address transportation barriers for under-resourced and under-represented youth to participate in them.

Sheridan Inspire, $1,500,000 commitment to City of Sheridan

Since 2016, Sheridan Inspire has been using GOCO funding to build on the momentum of a strong, diverse coalition of community-based partners that were already working to improve the lives of Sheridan youth and families. The group included Sheridan School District No. 2, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, Mile High Youth Corps, Earth Force, and Groundwork Denver. 

The partner organizations have offered programs that teach self-reliance through engaging, hands-on, outdoor activities and are phased to focus on family participation (for youth ages 5-14), adventure (for youth ages 10-18), and jobs (for youth ages 13-24). Programs have connected families with resources, taught youth how to get to nearby outdoor places, and educated families on how to access Colorado’s great outdoors. Youth have also been exposed to experiences that could inspire future careers in the outdoors, including volunteer activities, skills training, and job opportunities.

With new GOCO funding, the coalition plans to increase community outreach and engagement to boost the visibility and cultural relevance of its programs; offer more family-oriented activities; improve safety of outdoor spaces; and respond to community-voiced desires for recreation opportunities in biking, gardening, summer day camps, and camping.

Additionally, the coalition aims to increase job placement of Sheridan youth in natural resource careers and increase the number of youth who receive outdoor education and natural resource skills training.

The Nature Connection (TNC), $1,000,000 commitment to Delta County

The new Generation Wild funding will help TNC continue to provide experiences that break down barriers to the outdoors through access to outdoor gear, which is often prohibitively expensive for too many families; school programs that get kids active and moving and building confidence to explore on their own; and activities that empower families throughout the year and deepen their connection to nature. With this additional funding, TNC will connect more families to a range of outdoor experiences, including cross-country skiing, biking, and water activities that highlight close-to-home recreation opportunities.

A major focus of The Nature Connection’s programming is promoting an ongoing, cohesive pathway of outdoor experiences for community youth. This starts with summer camps and the recently launched Learn to Bike program in elementary schools and continues with middle school summer adventures and popular cross country ski days getting over 1,000 kids on the Grand Mesa National Forest each winter. For high school youth, TNC offers river excursions and field trips that encourage youth to explore the possibility of future careers in the outdoors. In the summer, students from area high schools can apply for paid internships on trail crews, at summer camps, and in the local outdoor industry. 

Conservation Service Corps Grants

Alamosa Trails Stewardship Project, $27,150 grant to City of Alamosa

A crew from Southwest Conservation Corps will work alongside personnel from the City’s parks and recreation department for three weeks on several projects at Alamosa City Ranch and Alamosa Riparian Park. At Alamosa City Ranch, crew members will repair tread, build foot bridges, and compact crusher fine across the property’s 5.3 miles of trail. At Alamosa Riparian Park, crews will reroute 1,000 feet of trail and revegetate the closed portion. In addition, on both properties, crews will help control the spread of invasive species, including thistle, knapweed, puncture vine, and other noxious weeds.

Arkansas River Trail Invasive Plant and Tree Removal Project, $41,800 grant to City of Pueblo

A chainsaw and pesticide application crew from Mile High Youth Corps will work for four weeks to restore a two-acre section of the Arkansas River Trail that is overgrown with dense, invasive vegetation. The crew will work in partnership with staff from the City’s parks and recreation department to cut the trees and pile wood for mulching. They will also treat the affected area with pesticides to prevent future growth. This project will expand access to other trail systems and nearby City Park, Pueblo’s busiest and largest park, during a time of increased recreation due to the pandemic.

Back to the Basics- Passive Recreation and Wildlife Habitat Enhancements, $18,800 grant to City of Boulder

The City of Boulder will use its grant to employ a Mile High Youth Corps crew for needed enhancements at Boulder Reservoir. The crew will focus specifically on the North Shore and Coot Lake Management Area, a 122-acre open space that borders the reservoir and features 4.5 miles of trail, a fishing area, wildlife viewing opportunities, and more. To enhance recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat, the crew will close and restore undesignated trails, address trail sustainability, restore grasslands that provide habitat for a variety of species, and remove invasive species.

Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space Western Trail Connection, $17,960 grant to Eagle County

 A camping crew from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will work for two weeks to make progress on a 2.4-mile, single-track trail at Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space (BCVROS). Once complete, the Rim Trail will connect BCVROS to the Haymaker trail system, public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Forest Service trail system located on Hardscrabble Mountain Road. This connection was the community’s most-requested trail during an extensive master planning process for BCVROS. 

Cripple Creek Parks and Trails Restoration and Development Project, $26,940 grant to City of Cripple Creek

With this funding, a crew from Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) will make enhancements at Gold Camp Trail, City Park, and Mountain View Adventure Park to improve recreation opportunities. On Gold Camp Trail, the crew will remove weeds and rocks, implement erosion control measures, and replace missing and damaged signs. To provide a safer experience for visitors, MHYC will restore the City Park’s playground equipment, picnic tables, fencing, and trash cans. Finally, at Mountain View Adventure Park, the crew will make minor surface enhancements on the park’s walking trail, BMX bike track, and sidewalk.

Durango Area Trails Alliance Stewardship Collaboration, $35,920 grant to City of Durango

A crew from Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) will work for five weeks on enhancements at Dalla Mountain Park, Overend Mountain Park, and Horse Gulch. To address the impacts of increased recreation, the SCC crew will restore seven miles of social trails, improve access to climbing sites, and install new wayfinding and educational signage at Dalla Mountain Park. At Overend Mountain Park, the crew will address social trails, improve trail tread, install signage, and if possible, repair and replace damaged bridges. Finally, at Horse Gulch, the crew will conduct basic trail maintenance, repair undesignated trails, remove weeds and trash, and install signage. 

Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative, $62,700 grant to Larimer County

With the help of GOCO funds, a chainsaw crew will work for six weeks to clear dead trees and reduce forest density on a 15-acre parcel of Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. The acreage designated for this project faces extreme fire risk due to a large concentration of dense ponderosa pine and dry mixed conifer trees. The crew will traverse the property’s steep slopes to cut trees and pile wood to burn at a later date. The impact of this project combined with past and planned efforts will improve forest health and protect the Elkhorn Creek area, which supplies water to more than 300,000 people. 

Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation in Wheat Ridge, $41,800 grant to City of Wheat Ridge

The City of Wheat Ridge will use its grant to hire a Mile High Youth Corps crew to address the spread of Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle species that feeds on ash trees. The crew will work with City forestry staff to assess 700 trees on various properties, place signs on trees as part of the City’s “Watch Your Ash” awareness campaign, install beetle traps, and salvage infected trees when possible. In conjunction with this project, the City will conduct outreach to assist residents with ash trees on private property. 

Fire and Noxious Weed Mitigation at Bell Park, $62,700 grant to City and County of Denver

The City will partner with Mile High Youth Corps to deploy a chainsaw crew to treat 10 acres of forested land at Bell ark. Bell Park is located near Evergreen and is managed by Denver Mountain Parks, a subsidiary of Denver Parks and Recreation. The crew will work for six weeks to thin dense trees to reduce fire risk and remove noxious weeds to improve ecological health. 

Garden of the Gods & Rock Ledge Ranch- Noxious Weed Treatment Program, $20,900 grant to City of Colorado Springs

The City of Colorado Springs will hire a Mile High Youth Corps crew for an ongoing project to remove noxious weeds at Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch. Last summer, a crew treated 17 acres infested with invasive species, and this funding will support a second phase to re-treat areas that have seen regrowth. Following initial treatment, it is common for invasive seed banks to further propagate, requiring land managers to closely monitor treated areas to avoid continued spread. This project will build on last year’s work to promote growth of native plant populations and maintain critical wildlife habitat at some of the County’s most valuable outdoor resources. 

Hazard Tree and Forest Fuel Mitigation in Eastern Grand County, $41,800 grant to Town of Winter Park

With this funding, a crew from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will clear dead trees and other forest fuels along 20 miles of trail in Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash. Grand County has been greatly affected by the pine beetle epidemic, which increases wildfire risk due to the large number of dead trees. The crew will work for four weeks to remove dead and diseased trees and pile wood for burning on the Idlewild and Phases trail systems.

Intemann Trail Sustainability Project, $25,050 grant to City of Manitou Springs

The City of Manitou Springs will use its funding to hire a Mile High Youth Corps crew for three weeks of work on Intemann Trail, the backbone of the city’s trail system. The path connects to Iron Mountain Open Space and Red Mountain Open Space, providing access to some of the County’s most popular trails and outdoor spaces. The crew will restore a closed section of the trail, build a retaining wall near the western trailhead, close undesignated social trails, and conduct general tread maintenance.

John Griffin Regional Park Fire Mitigation Project, $41,800 grant to Cañon City Area Metropolitan Recreation and Park District 

A chainsaw crew from Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) will work for four weeks to remove dead cottonwood trees from a five-acre section of John Griffin Regional Park. This project will build on previous efforts by MHYC crews to eradicate invasive Russian olive and tamarisk at the park, which was completed earlier this year after three summers of work. Now, to further support ecological health and reduce risk of wildfire after a record season, crews will cut the dead and fallen trees, which will be used as firewood and mulch. 

Methodist Front Wildland Urban Interface Forest and Watershed Health Restoration, $20,900 grant to City of Salida and $20,900 grant to Town of Poncha Springs

With the help of GOCO funding, a chainsaw crew from Southwest Conservation Corps will work for four weeks to reduce wildfire risk along five linear miles of land adjacent to Highway 285. The crew will thin dense trees on 178 acres of steep terrain and clear brush on an additional 300 acres of flat land. These areas were identified as the highest priorities for wildfire mitigation in the 2020 Chaffee County Next Generation master plan due to the large concentration of dead trees and other dry plant matter.

North Mt. Elbert Maintenance, $53,880 grant to Lake County

As the highest point in Colorado, Mt. Elbert receives an average of more than 20,000 hiking use days annually. A camping crew from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will repair and reroute a quarter-mile portion of the north trail that has been badly damaged from heavy use. The completed trailwork will reduce the average grade on the section from 50% to 18%, enhancing user experience and accessibility. Crews will also install rock stairways and retaining walls to mitigate future damage and erosion. 

Paonia River Park Expansion Project, $55,350 grant to Delta County

With the help of GOCO funding, a crew from Western Colorado Conservation Corps will work for six weeks to build a soft-surface trail from Paonia River Park to Paonia Junior/Senior High School, a route already established through informal, social trails. The new trail will provide better access to the park for the school’s students and more opportunities for outdoor and environmental education. The crew will also clear Russian olive and tamarisk, two invasive species that crowd out other plants and soak up water, along the Gunnison River at the park and along the trail. 

Prairie Stream Restoration on SPLT, $31,350 grant to Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT)

With this funding, SPLT will hire a Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) crew for riparian restoration at Heartland Ranch and Raven’s Nest nature preserves. Tamarisk, an invasive species that crowds other plants and soaks up water, is prevalent at both locations. SPLT has worked to remove the plants along the properties’ riparian areas, and with help from MHYC, could achieve total eradication. Crews will also install structures along streams and side channels to reduce erosion caused by livestock grazing. 

Purgatoire River Trails, Trees and Wildlife, $40,330 grant to City of Trinidad

A chainsaw and pesticide application crew from Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) will build a new trail connecting the Trinidad Riverwalk to a new recreation area that is currently difficult to access. The crew will also expand access to the river by clearing trees and invasive species to create two new entry points. To further enhance users’ experience at the river, the crew will also create space for a wildlife viewing station in partnership with Forever Our Rivers, which has awarded funding for a bench and interpretive signage at the site. Along the entirety of the trail, MHYC will conduct routine maintenance and clear forest fuels to reduce wildfire risk. 

Resource Protection and Sacramento Creek Ranch, $28,410 grant to Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT)

The Sacramento Creek property was acquired in 2019 and serves as MALT’s base for conservation operations, features trails that are open to the public, and is a site for environmental education and high-alpine research. Camping and chainsaw crews from Southwest Conservation Corps will work for three weeks on a variety of maintenance improvements on the property, including invasive species mitigation, dead tree and debris removal, and fence installation. To expand recreation opportunities at Sacramento Creek, crews will establish a new camping area and repair the existing tent pads. They will also create a hillside outdoor classroom by terracing a portion of the property, as well as building steps and seats out of rocks and logs. 

Riverbend Park Riparian Restoration, $20,900 grant to Town of Palisade

The Riverbend Park Restoration Project is a multi-year, collaborative effort to mitigate invasive species at this popular park located along the Colorado River. The first phase of this project was completed last summer, and the second phase will begin this spring with the help of GOCO funds. A crew from Western Colorado Conservation Corps will work for three weeks to remove Russian olive and tamarisk, two invasive species that crowd out other plants and soak up water, on four acres of riparian habitat. They will also restore native vegetation once the noxious weeds are removed.

Russian Olive Tree Removal, $31,350 grant to Foothills Park and Recreation District (FPRD)

At Wayside Meadows Park and Meadows Golf Club, FPRD will hire a Mile High Youth Corps crew for three weeks to remove Russian olive trees, an invasive species that crowds out other plants and soaks up water. They will also apply pesticides to prevent future spread, giving native species the opportunity for regrowth. The project will improve overall ecological health, reduce erosion and flooding, and help restore water quality. 

Settler's Creek Hazardous Fuels Reduction, $20,900 grant to Summit County

Summit County will hire a Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crew for forest fuel mitigation work on Settler’s Creek Open Space, located in the eastern portion of the Keystone Resort development area. The crew will address the extensive pine beetle kill in the area by removing dead and diseased lodgepole pine across the property. They will also remove living trees that are at risk of uprooting from wind once the dead trees are cleared. The wood collected from these trees will be piled and burned at a later date.

Spring Creek Forest Fuels Reduction Project, $31,350 grant to Huerfano County

With the help of GOCO funding, a chainsaw crew from Mile High Youth Corps will work for three weeks to thin dense forest on five acres of public land located adjacent to private residential parcels. Crews will clear ponderosa pine, oak, mixed conifer, and aspen trees using a “thinning from below” approach, which involves cutting ground and low limbs before removing select sub-canopy trees. The County hopes that through this effort, nearby landowners will be motivated to thin forests appropriately to reduce wildfire risk across the landscape. 

Standley Lake Loop Trail Segment Construction, $50,100 grant to City of Westminster

At Standley Lake, the City of Westminster will hire a Mile High Youth Corps crew for six weeks of trail construction to complete the final phase of the lake’s loop trail. Two-thirds of the trail is already built, but the remaining portion will require additional work due to wildlife buffers and watershed crossings. Once complete, the trail will cross Woman Creek and pass through a Bald Eagle nesting area, providing hikers with a unique nature experience in an urban setting. 

West Gunnison Park Open Space Trail, $17,960 grant to City of Gunnison

This funding will support a new park in the West Gunnison neighborhood, a diverse and underserved area of the city. A crew from Western Colorado Conservation Corps will build a gravel trail to connect the park to a planned residential community, the scenic Gunnison River waterfront, a senior care center, and nearby open space. Crews will also restore native vegetation and remove noxious weeds along the trail, and if time permits, install playground equipment purchased by the City. 

Wildfire Partners: Youth Corps Helping Seniors Adapt to Wildfire Risk, $41,800 grant to Boulder County

Boulder County will use its funding to hire a crew from Mile High Youth Corps for four weeks of work across 16 properties with conservation easements. The County’s Wildfire Partners program has worked closely with MHYC for the past three years to reduce wildfire risk on private and public lands. This year’s project will focus on privately owned, conserved lands whose landowners are elderly or cannot perform this needed work. The crew will remove dead and diseased trees, clear brush and weeds, clean debris, chip wood, and build rock barriers around houses to reduce the impacts of potential wildfires.

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 5,300 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.