DENVER- Today the GOCO board awarded a total of $4,548,822 to 11 projects across the state as part of GOCO’s base programs: community impact, land acquisition, stewardship impact, and planning and capacity.
The projects, which will leverage GOCO’s investment against $25 million in matching contributions, will produce many outcomes, including to:
- Permanently protect over 27,000 acres of land for wildlife, scenic vistas, and natural resource values and create a new open space park on another 1,000 acres.
- Provide consistent and sustainable water for Ouray’s world-famous ice park.
- Renovate an existing park in Erie’s downtown core with community designed amenities, year-round and activation programming, and opportunities to support local economic development.
- Develop plans and collaboratives to address pressing stewardship needs like managing public access pressures and forest and watershed health in regions experiencing some of the most pressure in Chaffee County, Clear Creek County, and throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
GOCO’s community impact program develops and revitalizes parks, trails, school yards, fairgrounds, environmental education facilities, and other outdoor projects that enhance a community’s quality of life and access to the outdoors.
Coal Creek Park Redevelopment Project, $555,956 to the Town of Erie
Funding will support a redevelopment plan for Coal Creek Park in the Town of Erie that includes the construction of a new community restroom, two new shade shelters, an event lawn, a promenade for community events, expanded trail opportunities, a nature-themed playground, parking, and a dual-use area that will house the town’s ice rink in winter and a splash pad in summer. Events held at Coal Creek drive pedestrian traffic to Downtown Erie—supporting the local economy—and the park provides residents and visitors an opportunity to engage with the outdoors, which has proved to be an important outlet for mental and physical health during the pandemic.
Our Water Our Future - Solving Ouray's Water Shortage, $100,000 to the City of Ouray
The grant will support the City of Ouray’s construction of a water delivery system built to access a new water supply for the Ouray Ice Park, which has faced challenges to water access from drier winters, growing demand from the city, and an aging infrastructure. The city recently secured an agreement with Ouray Silver Mines, Inc., which will donate the water and a right to pull water from a wet-well installed near the confluence of the Uncompahgre River and Cañon Creek. The new system will help the Ice Park operate at full capacity, as well as expand climbing terrain by up to an additional 40 routes. The Ice Park accounts for 60% of the city’s winter economy.
GOCO’s land acquisition program supports urban and rural landscape, waterway, and habitat protection priorities and improves access to the outdoors.
Delhi Ranch Conservation Easement, $200,000 to Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust
The grant will support Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) in conveying a conservation easement on the 27,078-acre Delhi Ranch, which spans Las Animas, Otero, and Pueblo counties and is owned and operated by the Hall Family. The property consists of intact, native shortgrass prairie, an ecosystem that supports nearly twice as many animal species of concern as any other land-based ecosystem in Colorado. The easement will limit fragmentation and subdivision and support soil and grassland management practices that benefit carbon sequestration.
Douglas Mountain Ranch and Preserve, $544,000 to Mountain Area Land Trust
The grant will support Mountain Area Land Trust in the acquisition of Douglas Mountain Ranch, a 123-acre property outside the Town of Empire. The property is critical Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep wildlife habitat and protects scenic viewsheds from US Highway 40, a heavily-traveled corridor off Interstate 70. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will manage the property as a part of the Georgetown State Wildlife Area. Recreation opportunities will include wildlife viewing, connection to the Clear Creek Greenway trail, and fishing access.
Historic Splendid Valley Farm, $977,000 to The Conservation Fund
The grant will support The Conservation Fund in purchasing the Historic Splendid Valley Farm, conveying a conservation easement, and selling the protected property to a conservation buyer. The project conserves one of the three largest parcels of productive farmland in the Historic Splendid Valley, a fertile pocket of soil near Brighton that has been farmed for generations. The project supports critical wildlife habitat, corridors, riparian areas, migration routes, and flyways. The farm also holds 115 shares of Fulton Ditch water rights. Fulton Ditch, diverted from the South Platte River, is one of the oldest and most reliable sources of water for agriculture in the state.
Shurview/Missile Site Bluffs Open Space, $1,500,000 to The Trust for Public Land
The grant will help the Trust for Public Land, the City of Greeley, and the Town of Windsor conserve the 978-acre Shurview/Missile Site Bluffs property, located between Windsor and Greeley along Highway 257 in Weld County. This property is the last remaining large parcel of land with significant conservation value along this corridor, providing a buffer and scenic views for the communities. It houses a range of wildlife species and also plays an important role in managing stormwater and irrigation runoff and preventing soil erosion. The Shurview acquisition is expected to close in March 2022.
GOCO’s stewardship impact program supports collaborative stewardship work that demonstrates meaningful improvements to ecological and recreational amenities.
RFOV: Community-Powered Stewardship in Western Colorado, $298,490 to Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers
The grant will support Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) in completing 145 stewardship projects for a total of 6,000 volunteer hours each year across its service region—from Independence Pass to Parachute and Marble to Glenwood Canyon—with a particular emphasis on growing volunteer participation by 30% in the Middle Colorado River Valley. As the largest single grant in RFOV’s 26-year history, funding will support increased capacity by hiring four new staff members; training for staff, volunteers, and partners; an upgrade to RFOV’s volunteer registration system; and the purchase of a vehicle to support increased project participation.
Planning and Capacity
GOCO’s planning and capacity program invests in projects that address opportunities, explore issues, engage communities, and examine trends in the outdoors.
All Lands Camping Plan Accelerator and Recreation Adopters Phase II, $148,300 to Chaffee County
The grant will support Chaffee County, as part of the Envision Chaffee County collaborative, in creating two key plans and strategies to address increased visitation in the region. First, the All-Lands Camping Plan Accelerator will develop a collaborative model to manage dispersed camping impacts across city, county, private, and public lands. Second, the Chaffee Recreation Adopters program offers tools and approaches to empower outdoor enthusiasts to be more effective stewards of the land, while also enhancing land management capacity. Tools and approaches will be shared statewide, including through existing partnerships with Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Clear Creek Recreation in the Outdoors Management Plan, $100,000 to Clear Creek County
The grant will support Clear Creek County in creating the Clear Creek Recreation in the Outdoors Management Plan, which will bring local, federal, and state land managers together to inform decision making for the next 10 years. The effort seeks to enhance and improve efficiency and create a shared vision for all the stakeholders and advocates for planned and managed recreation in the county, which has seen significant increases in visitation from the growing Front Range. The plan aims to improve coordination across disparate local land managers to the benefit of the community’s residents and visitors.
Establishing a Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network, $89,326 to Colorado State University
The grant will support the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University to establish a collaborative network to respond to the increased challenges facing Colorado forests and watersheds as a result of climate change, wildfires, and other disturbances. The mission of the network is to enhance communication, coordination, and capacity of community-based collaboratives. The network will listen to local concerns, educate communities and give assurance that forest projects will align with local expectations, linking local needs to state and regional efforts.
Upper Arkansas Watershed Resiliency Plan, $35,750 to Central Colorado Conservancy
The grant will support Central Colorado Conservancy and partners within the Upper Arkansas Watershed Partnership to conduct a river and stream health assessment and hazard zone study on three major tributaries in Chaffee County, accounting for approximately 40 river miles. The effort is part of a larger watershed resiliency planning process that seeks to identify challenges facing diverse water users and the ecosystem, while also creating collaborative opportunities to address them. The project will address the critical need for data on current stream health and lands that are under threat of potential post-fire flooding, development, and climate change.