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GOCO invests nearly $500k in grants to restore critical habitat in the state

Thursday, December 8, 2016 -- GOCO
December 8, 2016

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded nearly $500,000 in habitat restoration grants to eight projects across the state.

GOCO’s habitat restoration grant program improves Colorado’s wildlife habitat through fire fuel mitigation, invasive species management, sediment control, and similar restoration work, helping Colorado communities become more resilient to natural disasters like fires and floods, and protecting Colorado’s water supply. The GOCO board doubled funding for the program in 2016.

This round of grants will restore or enhance 663 acres of habitat, leverage nearly $2 million in local matching funds, and fund more than 4,000 hours of volunteer work and paid Youth Corps labor.

Funded projects include:

Elkhorn Creek Forest Restoration, $75,584 grant to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in partnership with the Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative

In partnership with the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed, Larimer County Conservation Corps, and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, TNC will restore 35 acres of the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch near Red Feather Lakes. The TNC wildland fire module will manage prescribed burns on the property to restore a healthy forest structure that is critical for wildlife habitat.

Jones Park Bear Creek Greenback Cutthroat Trout Habitat Restoration Project, $75,000 grant to El Paso County

Bear Creek is home to the only naturally reproducing, genetically pure population of greenback cutthroat trout in North America, and nearly 80% of the habitat occurs in Jones Park. Colorado’s state fish is negatively impacted by excess sediment deposited into the stream. GOCO funding will help the county conduct a full stream survey, producing a detailed implementation plan to remove sediment and prevent excessive erosion that impacts the critical cutthroat habitat and will improve the prospect of delisting this federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Las Colonias Park Riparian Restoration, $29,400 grant to the City of Grand Junction

The city will partner with Ducks Unlimited and the Tamarisk Coalition to build a side channel in the Colorado River, creating habitat for migratory birds and fish and restoring natural water flow to the area. GOCO funding will be directed to revegetate the area with native wetland plants; the project also received $17,550 from GOCO to employ crews from the Western Colorado Conservation Corps to complete the project.

North St. Vrain Creek Restoration in Button Rock Preserve, $60,000 grant to the City of Longmont

GOCO funding will contribute to the extensive restoration effort already underway on the North St Vrain Creek at Button Rock Preserve, which was severely impacted by the 2013 floods. The 3,000-acre preserve supplies Longmont’s drinking water, and this project will mitigate barriers for fish passage and runoff from wildfire damage that will protect the water supply and improve wildlife habitat.

Poudre River and Floodplain Habitat Restoration at Kingfisher Point, $100,000 grant to the City of Fort Collins

Fort Collins’ 2015 Natural Areas Restoration Master Plan identified this one-mile stretch as the number one priority for restoration work on the Cache la Poudre River. The city will restore the river channel to a more natural state, mimicking naturally-formed riverbanks, expanding cottonwood forests to improve the floodplain, and creating high-quality habitat for wildlife. Returning the river to a more natural state not only helps mitigate floods, but also improves river access for fishing, tubing, and kayaking.

Prewitt Wetlands Enhancement, $109,658 grant to Colorado Open Lands in partnership with Ducks Unlimited

Colorado Open Lands will restore 340 acres of habitat adjacent to and on Prewitt Reservoir State Wildlife Area. The project will ultimately impact more than 3,100 acres of the public recreation area, and give water managers increased flexibility to meet users’ demands without negatively impacting local ranchers or wildlife.

Rio Grande State Wildlife Area Restoration and Protection Project: Phase 1, $25,000 grant to Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The project will focus on a rapidly eroding section of the Rio Grande; its unstable state threatens wildlife habitat and water delivery to the San Luis Valley Canal and the Centennial Ditch. Restoration of the area will protect water infrastructure, local agriculture, and wetlands that support threatened and endangered amphibians, fish, birds, and mammals.

Swift Ponds Russian Olive Removal and Noxious Weed Eradication, $24,890 grant to Colorado Open Lands in partnership with Colorado Youth Outdoors

GOCO funding will help eradicate Russian olive and other invasive plant species on more than 160 acres of Swift Ponds, the home of Colorado Youth Outdoors. The project will also reduce the likelihood of the trees reseeding downstream by eradicating an upstream stand of Russian olive. Removing Russian olive and other invasive plant species on the property will help the native plant population recover, protect the water supply, and improve habitat and water access for wildlife. The project also received a $41,700 Youth Corps grant from GOCO.

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.