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GOCO grants to help preserve 30,000 acres of sage grouse habitat

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 -- GOCO
June 24, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 6/24/2015

 

Contact: Todd Cohen, o: 303.226.4530 c: 303-503-9068, tcohen@goco.org, or

              Laura Cardon, 303-226-4531, lcardon@goco.org

 

Counties:  Alamosa, Arapahoe, Conejos, Dolores, Gunnison, Huerfano, Moffat, Pueblo, Routt, and Saguache

 

GOCO grants to help preserve 30,000 acres of sage grouse habitat

Funding also takes major step toward 27-mile trail from Denver to Aurora

DENVER – More than 30,000 acres of vital sage grouse habitat will be preserved thanks in part to new open space grants the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board has just approved.

 Other grants will create new public access opportunities,  including important land acquisitions that will help the City of Aurora make a significant step toward realizing the dream of creating a 27-mile trail corridor from northeast Denver to the Aurora Reservoir.  Another grant will help create a community farm that seeks to improve area residents’ health.

Overall, the new open space grants, worth more than $8.9 million, will help preserve 40,044 acres of land in 10 counties.  More than 800 acres are on state or national scenic byways and 8,500 are along major US highways. The acreage also includes about 22 miles of river corridors and other waterway habitats.

These new grants support Governor John Hickenlooper's Colorado Beautiful initiative by identifying and filling critical gaps in connectivity for trails and open spaces, and GOCO’s new “Protect, Connect, Inspire” strategic plan, which focuses on land preservation, trails, and encouraging more youth to get outdoors.

GOCO is presently seeking applicants for its new Inspire Initiative, which offers between $1 million to $5 million in grants to selected communities to encourage kids to have more outdoor experiences. The program focuses on creating outdoor destinations like parks, improving access to outdoor location through new or improved trails, and expanding existing youth programs that introduce kids to the great outdoors. For more information on the initiative, visit goco.org/inspire.

Grant details.

ALAMOSA COUNTY
Rio Grande Healthy Living Park, $254,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land in partnership with Colorado Open Lands and San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition.

The grant will help acquire the 38-acre park in Alamosa and place it under a conservation easement. The land includes Rio Grande River footage and will include a one-half mile trail easement through the property to connect it to other trails. The San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition will develop the land as a working farm and food hub that allows local residents to grow their own food.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY
Triple Creek Greenway Corridor Phase 3, $2,050,000 grant to City of Aurora, in partnership with Trust for Public Land

The grant will help purchase 388 acres in Aurora, which represent some of the last acquisitions needed to complete a continuous 27-mile trail corridor between the Aurora Reservoir and the South Platte River in north Denver. When completed, pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians and wildlife will be able to travel the entire route without interruption. Arapahoe County will hold a conservation easement on the properties.  The Triple Creek corridor comprises Sand, Coak and Senac creeks and would provide connective loops to the Front Range Trail segments including the High Line Canal, Cherry Creek and Toll Gate Creek trails.

CONEJOS COUNTY
Rainbow Trout Ranch, $495,000 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

The grant will help purchase a conservation easement on the 590-acre Rainbow Trout Ranch near Antonito. The ranch, visible from the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway, contains a mile of the Conejos River and provides habitat for Canada lynx, Gunnison prairie dog and bighorn sheep.

DOLORES COUNTY
Burke and Barnett Ranch, a $208,500 grant to Montezuma Land Conservancy

The grant will help purchase a conservation easement on the 960-acre Burke and Barnett Ranch located in the Groundhog Glade region.  The ranch, which is adjacent to other protected lands, contains portions of Disappointment and Nash creeks and is an important migration corridor for the Disappointment elk herd.  Its protection fills a gap between a national forest, state wildlife area and other conserved lands.

GUNNISON COUNTY
Cranor Ranch, $404,000 grant to Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy

The grant will help preserve the 692-acre Cranor Ranch near Gunnison. The scenic ranch, which is visible along Highway 135 and abuts Bureau of Land Management property, contains habitat for the endangered Gunnison sage-grouse.

HUERFANO COUNTY
Redwing Ranch, $382,700 grant to San Isabel Land Protection Trust.

The grant will help purchase a conservation easement on 1,665 acres of the Redwing Ranch near Gardner. The land contains over a mile of the Huerfano River and over a 1,000 acres of wetlands.  The ranch is a familiar sight to the approximately 15,000 people who pass the property to access nearby Blanca Peak, Mount Lindsey and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area.

MOFFAT COUNTY
Visintainer Conservation Project, $2,025,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy.

The grant will help acquire a conservation easement on 25,735 acres of the Visintainer Ranch near Maybell. The ranch contains important habitat for the greater sage-grouse and has been described as “ground zero” for the grouse by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The ranch also is winter range habitat for elk and for 30 different species identified as in need for conservation assistance by CPW.

PUEBLO COUNTY
Crystal Canyon Conservation Easement, $999,500 grant to The Nature Conservancy.

The grant will help preserve the 4,000 acre Crystal Canyon parcel of the Walker Ranch, which serves as the western border of the Pueblo West community and is adjacent to Pueblo Lake State Wildlife Area. This land will be in addition to 22,292 acres of the ranch that TNC has previously protected. The parcel is home to several rare plant species. The Walker Ranch has allowed for release of the black-footed ferret on its property as part of an effort to reintroduce the species to Colorado.

ROUTT COUNTY
South Routt Sage Grouse Conservation Initiative, $559,710 grant to Yampa Valley Land Trust.

The grant will help  purchase conservation easements on 724 acres of the Acord Ranch II and on 840 acres on the Rossi Ranch near Yampa. The ranches are visible from Highway 131 and the Flat Tops Scenic Byway respectively. The properties contain greater sage-grouse and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse priority habitat.

SAGUACHE COUNTY
Poncha Pass Conservation Legacy, $1,592,500 grant to Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust

The grant will help purchase conservation easements on five working ranches, totaling 4,745 acres, that sit at the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and are highly visible from Highway 285.  Three ranches contain range for the threatened Gunnison sage grouse species and winter range for elk. Two ranches contain winter range for bald eagle and elk.

These grants support Governor John Hickenlooper's Colorado Beautiful initiative by identifying and filling critical gaps in connectivity for trails and open spaces, and GOCO’s new “Protect, Connect, Inspire” strategic plan, which focuses on land preservation, trails, and encouraging more youth to get outdoors.

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 4,500 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.