One year after Great Outdoors Colorado awarded emergency flood recovery funding, many parks and trails destroyed in the fall 2013 deluge are re-opening or will be restored this summer.

When flooding ravaged Front Range communities in September 2013, GOCO acted to help them bounce back by dedicating $5 million to repair damaged parks and trails.

Fourteen communities were awarded funding on April 9, 2014, and a year later, substantial progress has been made. Here is a sampling:


When the Big Thompson River breached its banks, it caused over $7.6 million in damage for the City of Loveland. Unfortunately, multi-million dollar damage estimates weren’t uncommon in the aftermath of the flooding, but funds from GOCO enabled communities to act immediately on their most pressing repairs.

In Loveland’s case, over $250,000 in GOCO funds enabled the city to reconstruct the Highway 287 Recreational Trail Underpass, which provides safe access for pedestrians and bikes between the east and west sides of the city.

GOCO funding also went towards reconstruction of River’s Edge Natural Area, a new area for residents to enjoy hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and fishing that was set to open two weeks before disaster hit. River’s Edge was able to temporarily reopen by the following July, and comprehensive reconstruction will be completed this summer. Projects include reopening paved access and the parking lot, picnic shelters, and an amphitheatre in addition to finishing trail restoration, fishing access, and re-establishing critical wetland habitat.


El Paso County

After enduring significant damage from wildfires in summer of 2012, El Paso County was tested again by flooding. Several popular regional trails had been wiped out, and the road to recovery was kick-started by a $200,000 grant from GOCO.

Construction on both the Ute Pass Regional Trail and Bear Creek Regional Park will wrap up this month, with more than four miles of trails resurfaced and park maintenance roads repaired. On the Fountain Creek Regional Trail, the Carson Street Pedestrian Bridge will again provide safe access for pedestrians once construction is finished this month.









Before and After: Bear Creek Regional Park trail repairs.



The Town of Lyons was one of the most significantly impacted communities in the state, with damage estimates exceeding $50 million. Meadow Park was completely wiped out, which had the potential to serve another economic blow to the town if the park remained closed for the summer festival season.










Lyons was awarded $1 million in GOCO funding to reconstruct Meadow Park. The first phase, which ensured basic park services would be up and running in time for festival season, was completed in July 2014. Parking, RV and tent camping, and the multi-use field were all restored by the end of last summer, and now the town eagerly looks ahead to Phase II to completely restore Meadow Park.


Estes Park

Another town relying on outdoor recreation amenities to drive the economy is Estes Park. With 85% of the town ‘s trail network lost after the floods, GOCO awarded the Estes Valley Recreation and Park Department (EVRPD) more than $400,000 to rebuild.

The popular Fish Creek and Homer Rouse trails were top priorities, with trail restoration on the latter wrapping up this summer. Significant progress has been made thanks to work done by American Conservation Experience crews, and EVPRD hopes to also be able to expand the trail with a new loop to alleviate user congestion near the trailhead at Baldpate Inn.

The original 2.4 mile Fish Creek trail, funded by a GOCO grant, had just been completed right before the flood hit and was considered a total loss. Work will continue on Fish Creek through 2015 as final plans are submitted to FEMA.

The Estes Valley Land Trust is still in need of volunteer support to assist with their flood recovery efforts along Fish Creek and several other riparian areas. For more information about how you can help Estes Park recover, click here.












Jefferson County

GOCO funding helped ensure three of Jefferson County’s most popular parks were open in time for the busy summer season in 2014. $110,000 from GOCO addressed damage to more than seven miles of trails at Apex, North Table Mountain, and White Ranch parks.

Three bridges were installed on Apex Trail with the use of a helicopter, which JeffCo captured with the help of a GoPro camera. Videos of the reconstruction, including the bridges’ helicopter ride, can be found here.

Nearly 4,000 hours of volunteer work supported the swift recovery of JeffCo’s most beloved parks, which will be completely finished at the end of this summer. Work remains to be done on North Table Mountain’s Mesa Top Trail, which is in the design stages, and Mustang Trail at White Ranch Park will also wrap up this summer.



Bear Creek was in danger of causing further damage to the popular Lakewood park if action wasn’t taken to restabilize the embankments. With $86,000 from GOCO, the City of Lakewood not only eliminated the risk of future flooding, but was also able to restore trails along Bear Creek and reopen Bear Creek Lake Park in 2014.



Fort Morgan

Fort Morgan is on the home stretch of its flood recovery project, which received over $500,000 from GOCO to reopen Riverside Park, the city’s largest and most heavily used park. GOCO funds were used to rebuild the baseball and softball fields, which serve over 800 residents every year and are the only lighted fields in the entire city. Fort Morgan is thrilled to report that the only work remaining is to lay sod on the fully restored fields. Residents can expect to play ball by this June.



Three trails and nine parks in Longmont were damaged by the 2013 floods, but GOCO awarded nearly $600,000 to the City to address immediate repairs to the St. Vrain and Lefthand Greenways.

Both areas have since reopened for public use after GOCO funds helped repair the pedestrian bridge from Lefthand to Kanemoto parks, reconstruct 3.5 miles of trails, remove debris, and replace lost landscaping to prevent future erosion.

Before and After: Lefthand Greenway trail repairs.

Great Outdoors Colorado is a beneficiary of the Colorado Lottery. GOCO receives up to $60 million in Lottery revenue each year to invest in Colorado’s parks, wildlife, rivers, trails, and open space, which often encompasses special initiatives such as the Flood Recovery Initiative. For more information on other GOCO special initiatives, including Conservation Excellence, Paths to Parks, Riparian Restoration, and the School Play Yard Initiative, please go here.