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 30 years, GOCO has improved Colorado’s great outdoors with the help of Colorado Lottery proceeds. We’ve put more than $1.4 billion in proceeds back into 5,600 projects to improve the lives of Coloradans across the state.
After projects are awarded funding, grant recipients usually have about two years to make their projects happen.
Since April, 23 projects have wrapped up, representing $10,269,042 in GOCO investments into local communities across the state. Scroll to see if one’s near you:
Building Community Resilience through Expanded Capacity
$133,700 grant to Colorado West Land Trust (CWLT)
With its Resilient Communities grant, CWLT hired two new positions to help the organization identify and advance land acquisitions that provide equitable access to the outdoors, strategically protect and steward its region’s recreational and natural resources, and shape the role of land conservation in preserving water in Delta, Montrose, and Ouray counties. The land trust successfully responded to short-term pandemic impacts, built long-term resilience in communities in its service area, and adapted to a pandemic-related spike in needed stewardship work.
Learn about CWLT
Collaborative Conservation for Private Lands in the Arkansas Headwaters Region
$116,822 grant to Central Colorado Conservancy
With its Resilient Communities grant, Central Colorado Conservancy hired two full-time staff positions to sustain the organization through a period of significant revenue declines during the 2020 pandemic. Together, both positions led numerous community-based initiatives in CCC's six-county service area to protect valuable natural resources. The new agricultural program manager oversaw the Community Conservation Connection program that stewards relationships with ten ranches and monitors 4,500 acres under Agricultural Conservation Agreements. This position also coordinated the Upper Arkansas Watershed Partnership, which enhances collaboration and project development within the Upper Arkansas Basin to build long-term regional watershed resilience. In addition, a land protection and stewardship manager was hired to manage CCC's quickly-growing portfolio of new land protection projects, while monitoring its 36 existing properties.
Learn more about Central Colorado Conservancy
Colorado’s Private Lands Conservation Plan
$175,000 grant to Keep It Colorado
Keep It Colorado used its Resilient Communities grant to develop a statewide Private Lands Conservation Plan that the conservation community will use as a guide over the next 10 years. The plan helps decision-makers, funders, partners, and policymakers identify areas of investment and intersects with other statewide plans related to water, recreation, wildlife, agriculture, and climate resiliency. While the plan unifies the private lands conservation community statewide, it also recognizes that local communities and regions have unique priorities and approaches to conservation. The plan establishes models for conservation based on effective programs that connect people with their local landscapes, helping create vibrant, thriving communities into the future.
Check out the plan
Expanded Capacity for Prairie Restoration
$50,000 grant to Southern Plains Land Trust
With its Resilient Communities grant, Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) hired a restoration manager to create revenue streams for the land trust and develop restoration projects on SPLT-managed and neighboring properties throughout its service area of Bent, Prowers, Baca, and Las Animas counties. The projects managed by this staff member support the local labor force, youth conservation corps, and help to address a declining volunteer base. This full-time position has had an immense economic impact on this rural agricultural community by increasing the need for locally-sourced project materials and providing an employment opportunity in a region where those opportunities are limited.
Learn more about Southern Plains Land Trust
Evergreen Lake Community Response
$258,000 grant to Evergreen Park and Recreation District (EPRD)
Using its Resilient Communities grant from GOCO, EPRD addressed much-needed stewardship at Evergreen Lake, including trail improvements, social trail closures, bank stabilization, erosion control, and other activities. Recreation at the lake more than doubled over the course of the pandemic, while simultaneously, EPRD had to lay off 150 employees. The dramatic increase in users combined with limited staff capacity created several maintenance issues. EPRD rehired an Evergreen Lake manager, an outdoor specialist, and several park maintenance and stewardship staff to address areas of need. Funding also supported the final design of a new lake-level perimeter trail.
Learn the latest about the trail
Get Outdoors East Greeley – Inspiring Access to Neighborhood Nature
$300,000 grant to City of Greeley
With its Resilient Communities grant, the City of Greeley constructed the first phase of Campo Esperanza Natural Area (formerly known as East Greeley Natural Area), an agricultural field turned urban outdoor space providing youth and local residents easy access to nature. Located in the east area of the city, the site features nature play amenities, interactive public art, native plants, and a trail network with seating and shading. The site opened to the public in October 2021, though additions to the park are forthcoming. The full concept plan includes creek play, archery, urban camping, and a community gathering pavilion to be added in future phases.
Learn more about Campo Esperanza
Gilpin County Community Center Campus
$109,724 grant to Gilpin County
With its Resilient Communities grant from GOCO, Gilpin County was able to provide needed oversight and management to reopen its Community Center campus, Gilpin Fairgrounds, and Pete Gones Memorial Park. The campus, a local hub for events, after-school and senior programs, day camps, field trips, and other community activities, closed during the pandemic when tax revenues fell short due to casino closures. The community center campus includes the fairgrounds, two ballfields, a playground, a BMX-style bike track, a community garden, and more. GOCO funding also supported maintenance needs including weed management, fence installation, and new restrooms and trash receptacles.
Learn more about the Community Center
Historic Splendid Valley: W-M Farm
$977,000 grant to The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund used this Land Acquisition grant to preserve the 116-acre Wagner-Mayhew Farm located in Adams County’s Historic Splendid Valley. The Conservation Fund purchased the property with a conservation easement to Adams County and sold the protected property to the City of Brighton. The project protects one of the state’s last remaining areas of agricultural land with available water rights. It protects critical wildlife habitat, corridors, riparian areas, migration routes, and other Historic Splendid Valley pastoral and natural resources. It safeguards the state’s water supply, retains the community’s sense of place and quality of life, contributes to climate resiliency, sustains local food supplies, bolsters community health, and supports the local economy.
Learn more about the Historic Splendid Valley
Jeffco Open Space, Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife Interagency Trail Courtesy Study
$77,613 grant to Jefferson County
Jefferson County used its Conservation Excellence grant to collaborate with Jeffco Open Space, Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife to hire a consultant to address visitor courtesy on trails. A study was conducted at North Table Mountain, Marshall Mesa, and El Dorado Canyon State Park investigating and improving the effectiveness of trail signage. Findings allowed the agencies to learn about the attitudes taken toward trail courtesy behaviors and determine content for updated park signs. The results were shared at the 2022 Trail Symposium and at two facilitated stakeholder representative workshops. The agencies will conduct a presentation for the 2023 Colorado Open Space Association conference to continue conversations around trail courtesy.
Learn more about the project
Lower Church Lake Restoration
$80,430 grant to City of Westminster
Following immense recreation increases, The City of Westminster sought to expand its trail network and restore existing areas. With its Resilient Communities grant, the City partnered with Teens Inc. to build a new 2-mile trail around the perimeter of Lower Church Lake in an effort to spread out trail users and allow residents to explore the property and learn about the history of the land. The City also partnered with Mile High Youth Corps to remove and treat harmful and invasive plants like Russian Olive, Tamarisk trees, Teasel, Thistle, and more. This project helped further recreation opportunities in the City of Westminster for years to come.
Learn more about Teens Inc.
Mount Tom Conservation Corridor
$5,290,000 grant to The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund used three Centennial Program grants to partner with Jefferson County Open Space, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, and Mountain Area Land Trust in an ongoing effort to protect around 2,000 acres of new public open space and wildlife habitat just northwest of Denver (pictured above). The area connects other previously conserved landscapes and protects natural resources for wildlife and Colorado communities. Some of Colorado’s most iconic wildlife species call this landscape home, including moose, elk, mule deer, black bear, and mountain lions. The area is not yet open to the public, but future access for outdoor recreation is planned for a portion of the publicly owned land, including a trail to the summit of Mount Tom.
Learn more about the Mount Tom project
Non-Motorized Trail Crew to Address Resource Degradation and Operational Support
$190,000 grant to Mesa County
With its Resilient Communities grant, Mesa County and a collaborative Trails Advisory Committee hired the Grand Valley Trail Crew to address deteriorating conditions on non-motorized trails over a two-and-a-half-year stretch, beginning in October 2020. Mesa County Public Health formed the committee in 2019 in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, Colorado Plateau Mountain Biking Association, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Grand Valley Trails Alliance, Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Western Colorado Community Foundation, local municipalities, and several small businesses. The committee recorded more than 100 points of needed maintenance activities across county trails, including social trail closures, revegetation, erosion mitigation, drainage work, signage, fencing, corridor clearing, and other maintenance issues. The trail crew became a reputable local labor force, accomplished many maintenance tasks, and built nearly 7.8 miles of singletrack trail at North Fruita Desert, expanding riding opportunities for beginners and families.
Learn about recent trail work in Mesa County
Outdoor Wilderness Lab Facilities Expansion
$45,000 grant to Mesa County
Mesa County partnered with Mesa County Valley School District 51 to leverage a GOCO mini grant and upgrade the Outdoor Wilderness Lab (OWL) campus at the Gateway School. OWL provides the Grand Valley’s sixth-grade students opportunities to explore natural resource conservation, biology, wildlife management, forestry, and frontier history. A new permanent outdoor classroom features a concrete pad and roof cover, outdoor furniture, ADA-accessible paths, a privacy fence, and a gravel path.
Watch a video about Outdoor Wilderness Lab
Partnering for Community Conservation
$230,000 grant to Colorado Open Lands (COL)
With its Resilient Communities grant, COL merged with Clear Creek Land Conservancy and Southwest Land Alliance, absorbing both organizations’ conservation easements and operations. The two land trusts have been working to protect Colorado’s natural areas since the 1980s and have collectively conserved more than 13,000 acres of land. COL will be tasked with monitoring the conserved properties into the future. COL also used GOCO funding to enhance its partnerships with additional land trusts by monitoring and helping to steward their conservation easements.
Learn about Colorado Open Lands
Resiliency Through Community Connections and Stewardship for the High Line Canal
$296,778 grant to High Line Canal Conservancy
With its Resilient Communities grant, the High Line Canal Conservancy initiated a comprehensive community-driven stewardship program, the Canal Conservation Corps (CCC), to strengthen the ecological health of the corridor. The Conservancy created partnerships with several community-based organizations and deepened engagement within the community to involve local residents in the work. This effort focused on the northeast neighborhoods surrounding the Canal in Aurora, Denver, and unincorporated Arapahoe County. GOCO funds supported the Conservancy staff's capacity to manage the programs and helped the organization employ community members and leaders, including local youth–through both corps service and an ambassador program. The Conservancy was able to complete much-needed stewardship work, from removing noxious weeds and trash to planting trees and beginning revegetation.
Learn about Canal Stewardship
Signing the West End
$42,694 grant to Montrose County
Montrose County used its mini-grant to partner with Montrose West Recreation, the West End Trails Alliance, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Uncompahgre Field Office, and the Telluride Foundation to improve access and provide a safer experience on Montrose County trails. Together, the partners conducted meetings and field trips with BLM to identify locations in need of trail signage. With this funding, partners installed 24 new kiosks and wayfinding signs at eight local trails, including Shamrock Trail, Red Canyon Loop, Blue Mesa, and Dolores River. Additionally, the team repaired three trail kiosks in well-trafficked recreation areas and upgraded signage at three additional local trail systems.
Learn more about the West End Trails Alliance
South Park Baseball & Soccer Fields
$350,000 grant to South Park Park and Recreation District
With its Local Park and Outdoor Recreation grant, South Park Park and Recreation District constructed a Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) and Little League baseball field and a regulation soccer field. Both fields have native grass surfaces with irrigation systems. The fields will serve more than 300 children, youth, and adults participating in organized baseball and soccer teams. Players will no longer have to travel over 50 miles for games and practices.
Learn more about South Park Recreation
The Cuchara Mountain Park Resiliency Project
$190,211 grant to Huerfano County
With its Resilient Communities grant, Huerfano County built a 1,200-square-foot pavilion at Cuchara Mountain Park (CMP) to serve as an outdoor classroom, along with a natural playground, bear-proof containers, fire pits, and a vault toilet. The new structure provides space for local schools to host classes, the park to host recreation programs, and community members to gather for celebrations and other events. As a part of the project, the County hired a park manager to coordinate the use of the space and oversee eight weeks of stewardship work by the Huerfano County Youth Conservation Corps and other partners.
Learn more about Cuchara Mountain Park
The Glenwood Springs Equitable Access & Emergency Parks Maintenance Project
$91,439 grant to City of Glenwood Springs
The City of Glenwood Springs used its Resilient Communities grant to address urgent maintenance needs at community parks, trails, and recreation areas. They hired two part-time staff members to focus on trail maintenance and river stewardship projects. In addition, the project helped reduce barriers to the City’s outdoor spaces for low-income and Latinx populations by increasing outreach efforts, offering bilingual information and signage, and actively seeking community input to determine important needs and desires for park enhancements in Latinx neighborhoods.
Learn more about the City of Glenwood Springs
The Gunnison County STOR Resilient Community Program
$450,000 grant to Gunnison County
Gunnison County used its Resilient Communities grant to collaborate with the multi-partner Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) Committee to address challenges posed by increased visitation in the Gunnison Valley. The partners implemented a campaign to create additional camping opportunities, develop and install better signage, improve trail infrastructure and access to trailheads, construct additional restroom facilities, and provide a more robust conservation corps and stewardship presence. The County also continued the development of Shady Island River Park, where a boat ramp, campgrounds, picnic tables, trailer parking spaces, pedestrian walkway improvements, and river habitat and stabilization work was implemented. Lastly, amenities for over 200 campsites in the Crested Butte area were added including tent pads, signs, kiosks, fire rings, fences, and more. In addition, Leave No Trace hand-outs, maps, and educational information were developed and distributed in partnership with Crested Butte Mountain Bike Assoc., Tourism and Prosperity Partnership, and the STORE Corps.
Read more about Gunnison County’s STOR committee
Trail Conservation Crew
$164,630 grant to Eagle County
In partnership with the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance, Eagle County Open Space used its Resilient Communities grant to hire and manage a Trail Conservation Crew (TCC) including six full-time, seasonal trail crew members that helped manage recreational impacts from May to November 2021 and 2022. The TCC completed trail maintenance and trail building, protected seasonal wildlife closures, closed social trails, improved campsites, and removed garbage from trails and public lands across Eagle County, including lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Town of Eagle, Eagle County Open Space, and Town of Minturn. They also communicated fire restrictions to the public and educated trail users at trailheads. The TCC led over 1,500 volunteer hours through its Adopt A Trail program, conducting trail maintenance and stewardship work on Game Creek Trail, Mill Creek Trail, Full Nelson Trail, and the Colorado Trail.
Watch a video about the TCC
Tri Lazy W - Heart of the Arkansas: Rawhide Creek Ranch
$300,000 grant to Central Colorado Conservancy (CCC)
With its Open Space grant, CCC helped permanently conserve the 737-acre Rawhide Creek Ranch just east of Highway 285 in Chaffee County between Buena Vista and Salida, supporting open space and scenic qualities of the region’s rural landscape. The property offers views from the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway, the Arkansas River, and adjoining public lands, including Browns Canyon National Monument. A conservation easement held by the conservancy protects the property’s high-quality, natural habitat, which includes riparian shrubland, pinyon-juniper woodlands, grasslands, and irrigated pastures supporting big game species such as elk, mule deer, pronghorn, moose, black bear, and mountain lion. It also provides habitat for several wildlife species of state concern including bald eagle, ferruginous hawk, American peregrine falcon, and northern leopard frog. The easement was completed with funding support from GOCO, Chaffee County, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The transaction is part of CCC’s Heart of the Arkansas conservation effort, which will conserve an additional 1,800 acres in the region.
Read the Ark Valley Voice story
Westminster Station Park – Phase 1
$350,000 grant to City of Westminster
In partnership with Westminster Legacy Foundation, Butterfly Pavilion, and STEM Academy, the City of Westminster used its Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation grant from GOCO to build the 37.5-acre Westminster Station Park & Nature Playground. The park sits next to the station serving the Regional Transportation District’s B-Line commuter trail. It includes interactive water features, log and boulder climbers, a turf lawn, slides, sand play with “fossils,” wooden playground equipment for younger children, and large, elevated play decks, bridges, and lookout towers. The new park also features a two-story picnic shelter with a BBQ grill and washrooms, landscaping and irrigation, lighting, and security cameras. Station Park connects to the regional Little Dry Creek Trail and improves pedestrian access near the creek.
Read more about Westminster Station Park & Nature Playground