Smith Rancho. Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.
There’s a lot of fanfare around grant awards, but what happens after the ceremonial checks are presented and the reporters have published their articles? Our partners get down to business.
For 27 years, GOCO has improved Colorado’s great outdoors with the help of Colorado Lottery proceeds. We’ve put more than $1.2 billion in proceeds back into 5,300 projects to improve the lives of Coloradans across the state.
After projects are awarded funding, grant recipients have about two years to make their projects happen.
In May and June, nine projects closed, representing more than $2.4 million in GOCO investments into local communities across the state. Scroll to see if one’s near you:
Cal-Wood Educational Greenhouse
$25,443 grant to the Town of Jamestown
In partnership with Cal-Wood Education Center, the Town of Jamestown used GOCO funding to build an educational greenhouse at the Center to serve school groups, campers, and local residents. The new greenhouse, which includes five garden beds and a classroom, will provide Jamestown Elementary students with nature-based education opportunities. The greenhouse will also promote healthy eating, as community members will be able to harvest and purchase fresh produce throughout the growing season. Learn more about Cal-Wood Education Center >>
Charmar Park Renovation
$317,214 grant to the City of Gunnison
The City of Gunnison used GOCO funding to make enhancements at its popular Charmar Park. The previous playground had reached its useful life and was replaced with new equipment. Additionally, the City built a nature trail, added five pickleball courts, and expanded access to the creek that runs through the park. The new trail also provides access to nearby Van Tuyl Ranch Open Space, which boasts a vast trail system and offers additional recreational opportunities. See photos of the updated park >>
Lake Creek Village- Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement
$39,915 grant to Eagle County
Eagle County used GOCO funds to enhance the community park and build a pedestrian bridge at Lake Creek Village, an affordable housing development near Edwards. The park is located along the Eagle River and features a river play area, a nature play zone, and updated playground equipment. The project also improved accessibility to the park and nearby bike path, providing residents with a safer and more direct connection to the town’s center and surrounding communities. This funding was awarded as part of GOCO’s larger investment in Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement, one of 15 Generation Wild communities across Colorado. Learn more about Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement >>
LaMont Does Connector Trail
$18,077 grant to City of Lafayette
The City of Lafayette used its GOCO grant to make improvements to a connector trail between LaMont Does Park and the Lafayette Gardens residential community. The trail connects residents to the park’s amenities, which include ballfields and a swimming pool. The path was enhanced with soft surfacing, landscaping, and picnic tables, improving safety for families traveling to and from the park and ensuring a better experience there. This funding was awarded as part of GOCO’s larger investment in Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza Lafayette, another Generation Wild community. Learn about Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza >>
Prairie Stream Restoration
$31,262 grant to Southern Plains Land Trust
Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT), in partnership with Colorado Open Lands, used its GOCO Habitat Restoration grant to restore nearly 20 acres of wetland habitat at Heartland Ranch Nature Preserve and Raven’s Nest Nature Preserve in Bent County. The project targeted two tributaries of the Arkansas River, Rule Creek and Mud Creek, which form perennial streams on the properties, a rarity in southern Colorado. Volunteers removed invasive species, planted willow and cottonwood seedlings, and installed erosion-control structures. These efforts will benefit the diversity of species that rely on these lands for habitat and protect the area’s unique ecological features. Learn more about SPLT’s nature preserve projects >>
River Bluffs Open Space Restoration and Resiliency Project
$100,000 grant to Larimer County
With its GOCO grant, Larimer County made enhancements to the riparian areas and wildlife habitat at River Bluffs Open Space. Erosion control measures were implemented along the Poudre River, which include stabilizing the river bank and planting native vegetation. Additionally, more than 30 acres of the surrounding open space were enhanced, creating functional habitat for a variety of wildlife species. This project was part of a larger, ongoing effort to restore areas that had been damaged as a result of the 2013 Colorado floods. Plan a visit to River Bluffs Open Space >>
Rockin’ the Rails Railroad Park
$349,893 grant to the Town of Palmer Lake
With the help of GOCO funding, the Town of Palmer Lake made improvements to its oldest, largest park, which was difficult to access due to its proximity to the Union Pacific Railroad. A pedestrian bridge was added to provide safe access to and from the downtown area as well as parking lot improvements for visitors traveling by car. To enhance recreation opportunities, the Town also expanded trails at the park and added an 18-hole disc golf course. The local community was involved throughout the planning and fundraising process. The project will provide an enhanced recreation experience for local residents and visitors alike. Check out Palmer Lake’s new pedestrian bridge >>
Smith Rancho 5 Deep Creek
$969,250 grant to The Nature Conservancy
With the help of a GOCO grant, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) completed the fifth phase of the Smith Rancho conservation project, which, to date, has conserved more than 16,000 acres of the ranch located near Hayden. The completed phase added 4,080 acres to the total conserved land, protecting an important wildlife migration corridor and habitat for a variety of species. The massive ranch is located adjacent to thousands of acres of Bureau of Land Management lands and Wolf Mountain Ranch State Habitat Area. The property also hosts big game hunters each year as part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Ranching for Wildlife program. GOCO funding has supported previous phases of Smith Rancho conservation, and all conservation easements on the property are held by TNC. Learn more about Smith Rancho >>
$555,000 grant to Douglas Land Conservancy
In partnership with the Trust for Public Land and Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Douglas Land Conservancy acquired a conservation easement on the 830-acre Welborn Ranch, one of the largest remaining working ranches in Douglas County. The property boasts three miles of Russell Gulch, a unique canyon landscape, as well as 114 acres of wetland and riparian areas. These features provide habitat for more than 50 bird species, several endangered and threatened species, and various big game. It also serves as a buffer to nearby Castlewood Canyon State Park and will provide limited public access for passive recreation opportunities. Learn more about conservation easements >>