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 April, seven projects closed, representing more than $9.2 million in GOCO investments into local communities across the state. Scroll to see if one’s near you:

Crazy French Ranch/Fishers Peak

$7,500,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the City of Trinidad and The Nature Conservancy, used its GOCO Protect grant to help Colorado Parks and Wildlife acquire the 19,200-acre Fishers Peak/Crazy French Ranch. The property, which includes the 9,633-foot summit of Fishers Peak, is set to become Colorado’s 42nd state park. The project is a culmination of a two-phase purchase and provides the opportunity to serve as a model for future state parks— one that reflects a unique and synergistic blend of resource conservation, recreation, education, economic benefit, and cultural significance to the City of Trinidad and the State of Colorado. Given the size and scale of the property, visitors can expect multiple phases of development. GOCO’s investments in the property to date total $17.25 million.

Read on about the future of Colorado's 42nd state park

Buena Vista Community Baseball Field

$350,000 grant to the Town of Buena Vista

The Town of Buena Vista, in partnership with the Buena Vista School district, used its GOCO grant to complete the construction of its multi-sports field at River Park. Funding was used to construct dugouts, bleachers, batting cages, and an ADA-accessible building that houses the concession stand, scoring booth, and restrooms. Funds were also used to provide electricity to the site. Half of the town’s population lives within a 10-minute walk of the site, and the upgraded field will serve as a hub of community recreation.

Read the full press release

Conserving the Encantada Ranch

$200,000 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

With its GOCO grant, the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust placed a conservation easement on Encantada Ranch, a 388-acre property through which the Rio Grande River flows. The easement will protect the ranch’s diverse wetlands and plant communities and support habitats for wildlife species of special concern, including the southwestern willow flycatcher and yellow-billed cuckoo. The easement will also protect the property’s senior water rights and viewshed, which offers travelers along Highway 160 with scenic views of open meadows, the Rio Grande River, and stands of mature cottonwoods. GOCO’s contribution to the conservation easement was significantly leveraged with additional funding coming from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Gates Family Foundation, and the LOR Foundation.

Learn more about Encantada Ranch and its rich history

Phase II - Batenburg Meadows Greenbelt Expansion

$85,688 grant to Costilla County

In partnership with Colorado Open Lands (COL), Costilla County used its GOCO grant to continue efforts to expand and conserve Batenburg Meadows, an area that provides food, shelter, and migration corridors for several wildlife species including elk, mule deer, black bears, and raptors. Phase two funding helped COL and Costilla County acquire two expansion parcels, conserving an additional 15.5 acres of land in the area. Funding was also used to cover expenses associated with acquiring the area’s conservation easement and to develop a management plan for the Greenbelt and expansion parcels, which will eventually include public access.

Read the full project scope

Plains Conservation Center Strategic Master Plan

$75,000 grant to the City of Aurora

With its GOCO planning grant, the City of Aurora built a strategic master plan to inform the operation and management of the Plains Conservation Center (PCC), an outdoor education facility that consists of two sites spanning more than 8,800 acres. Prairie grasslands make up 40 percent of Colorado, and PCC provides a venue for celebrating the land and its multi-cultural heritage. The master plan aims to expand environmental education, wildlife watching, school trips, and hiking opportunities while balancing human impact and conservation of the area’s natural landscape.

Find out more about PCC and its educational programs

Redwing Ranch

$382,700 grant to San Isabel Land Protection Trust

San Isabel Land Protection Trust invested GOCO funds in placing a conservation easement on 1,665 acres of the Redwing Ranch in Huerfano County. The property, which is situated at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is surrounded by lush hay and alfalfa fields, of which Redwing Ranch produces nearly 15,000 bales per year. The easement will also help conserve the ranch’s water rights as well the area’s wetlands, ponds, meadows, and wildlife habitat which is home to songbirds, shorebirds, amphibians, and various species of fish.

Learn more about Redwing Ranch

Rafter 26 Phase II

$650,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land

In partnership with the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT), the Trust for Public Land used its GOCO grant to acquire a conservation easement on an additional 400 acres of Rafter 26 Ranch. The ranch, which sits at the base of Mount Princeton, will add to the existing corridor of protected properties, including the Maxwell Park State Wildlife Area and the San Isabel National Forest. Together, the properties conserve an important migratory corridor and protect 98 acres of wetlands that contribute to the health of the Arkansas River Watershed and provide important habitat for various migratory bird species. CCALT will be responsible for the long-term stewardship and management of the property.

Read more about how the Trust for Public Land helps support working farms and ranches