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 28 years, GOCO has improved Colorado’s great outdoors with the help of Colorado Lottery proceeds. We’ve put more than $1.3 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 March, 13 projects closed, representing more than $4.6 million in GOCO investments into local communities across the state. Scroll to see if one’s near you:

Akron Pond Revitalization Project

$170,000 grant to Town of Akron

The Town of Akron used its Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation (LPOR) grant to revitalize Akron Pond. Due to sedimentation and water loss, the pond was unable to sustain a healthy fish population. GOCO funds were used to create a new pond east of the existing pond and will feature PVC liner to prevent future seepage. The pond provides fishing for approximately 2,500 anglers per year and offers recreation opportunities for several local groups including Lions Club, Scouts, Akron School district, 4H, and CPW.

Read a recent press release about the pond’s opening

Alice Terry Nature Play Experience

$93,881 grant to City of Sheridan

With the help of GOCO funds, the City of Sheridan transformed Alice Terry Elementary School’s playground into a modern, multi-sensory place space. The playground’s asphalt was replaced with natural loose surfaces, peeled logs and beams serve as tunnels, and log steppers were installed as climbing structures. To promote sensory exploration, the playground is surrounded by natural structures of varying sizes such as boulders, stumps, logs, shrubs, and berms. The expanded play yard will provide students of all ages with opportunities to engage in creative play and exploration. The project is part of GOCO's Generation Wild program, which is comprised of twelve communities across Colorado who are working to get more kids outside through partnerships, programs, places, and pathways.

Learn more about Generation Wild’s Inspire Sheridan coalition

Alma Town Park Expansion

$97,746 grant to Town of Alma

The Town of Alma, in partnership with the Alma Foundation, used a Resilient Communities Program grant to acquire a 1.1-acre parcel to expand the town’s park and playground. The town park is a central gathering place for recreation, socializing, special events, and festivals. The 1.1-acre parcel has been used by the town for the past 30 years, with the permission of the local landowner, to host festivals, in addition to being used as a ball field and skate park. The grant also provided funds for the acquisition of an 80-acre parcel in Buckskin Gulch that encompasses Buckskin Creek, which is the main source of water for the Alma community and supports important wildlife habitat. The Buckskin acquisition will be completed later in the year.

Check out the full scope of the project

Centennial Park Enhancement

$45,000 grant to Town of Kersey

With its GOCO grant, the Town of Kersey made upgrades to Centennial Park to provide residents and visitors with multigenerational recreation opportunities. Improvements to the park included relocating and rebuilding the horseshoe pits, installing a new play structure and covered shelter. Additional features include ADA accessible sidewalks, irrigated turf, and a raised grass seating area. Nearly 1,700 residents live within a mile of the park and the Town hopes the new features will provide visitors with an improved recreation experience.

Check out summer programming at Centennial Park

Estes Valley Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan

$66,000 grant to Town of Estes Park

The Town of Estes Park, in partnership with Estes Valley Land Trust, used a GOCO Planning grant to create the Estes Valley Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan. The plan outlines ideas for conserving land and wildlife habitat near Rocky Mountain National Park. The project brought together local conservation and recreation groups, local government, federal government, and other interest groups to define conservation and outdoor recreation success for Estes Valley over the next 20 years. Specific goals of the plan were to develop a set of open space and outdoor recreation priorities that will drive decision making on spending conservation and recreation-related public funding. Additionally, the plan focused on creating maps that show high-priority conservation areas as well as outdoor recreation land priorities.

Access the full plan

Fort Logan Northgate Outdoor Learning Space

$153,477 grant to City of Sheridan

With its GOCO funds, the City of Sheridan redesigned Fort Logan Northgate’s playground into a nature-inspired play space. The project includes the construction of a nearby trail, boulders for seating, native plantings, perennials, and a small gathering space. The City hopes the new features will provide kids of all ages and abilities with science exploration, outdoor learning, and a place for journaling. The Fort Logan Outdoor Northgate Learning Space is another Generation Wild place project.

Check out the Sheridan Inspire coalition’s Facebook

Jackson Ranch - Conejos Ranchland Initiative - Preserving Working Wet Meadows

$280,505 grant to Colorado Open Lands

With the help of a GOCO Open Space grant, Colorado Open Lands used funds to conserve the 433.3-acre Jackson Ranch located in Conejos County. The property, which is located in the southern San Luis Valley, hosts a two-mile long section of the San Antonio River creating a significant ribbon of riparian habitat, wet meadows, and cottonwood galleries. In addition to the wide range of plant communities on the property, there are numerous wildlife species found on the ranch and throughout the region are listed as federally or state threatened or endangered species. The transaction is part of the larger Conejos Ranchland Initiative involving conservation work being completed by Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust and the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust.

Read more about the Conejos Ranchland Initiative

Meek Ranch

$47,559 grant to Colorado West Land Trust

Colorado West Land Trust used its GOCO funds to conserve Meek Ranch, a 1,208-acre property located adjacent to Gunnison National Forest. The property is a working hay and cattle ranch that includes 500 acres of irrigated ground and willows, cottonwoods, and oakbrush. Crystal Creek and Cottonwood Creek flow for more than two miles through the ranch, creating ponds and wetland habitat for various species of wildlife including deer, elk, bald eagles, ferruginous hawks, and sandhill cranes. Travelers on the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway along Highway 92 pass by the property and enjoy stunning vistas of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Curecanti National Recreation Area, the West Elk Mountains, and other conserved lands in the area.

Learn more about Meek Ranch and its history

Park and Recreation Master Plan Update

$75,000 grant to City of Fort Collins

The City of Fort Collins used its GOCO Planning grant to help produce a comprehensive master plan to guide the development of its growing parks and recreation system. The plan focuses on providing a vision, goals, and clear objectives to ensure the system meets and serves the community’s needs. The plan identifies existing and needed facilities; build out strategy, design standards, and guidelines; park design process; consider special interest group requests; assess funding sources; and establish key metrics for implementation.

Check out the full master plan

Sandstone Ranch Open Space Acquisition

$3,500,000 grant to Douglas County

With the help of GOCO funds, Douglas County conserved Sandstone Ranch, a 2,038-acre property that had long been on the county’s wish list for a new public open space area. The property borders Pike National Forest; has water rights dating back to the 1860’s; and provides sweeping views of red rock formations, sloping meadows, and pine forests. The County believes that conserving the property will help preserve the area’s history, heritage, wildlife habitat, and natural resources. In 2019, a public engagement process was initiated to determine how to balance conservation of the property with outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. The $3.5 million grant is part of GOCO’s Protect Initiative, a special initiative focused on once-in-a-lifetime projects to conserve large landscapes of land.

Read more about Sandstone Ranch’s conservation

Supporting the Next 100 Coalition

$75,000 grant to Summit County

Summit County, in partnership with the Next 100 Coalition, used its GOCO Planning grant to support six local organizations– Big City Mountaineers, cityWILD, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Environmental Learning for Kids, Hispanic Access Foundation, and Protégete– in expanding their efforts to connect more Coloradans to the health and recreation benefits of the outdoors. The six coalition members collaborated with the Next 100 Coalition and Keystone Policy Center to create a statewide map of organizations working on diversity and inclusion in the outdoors, establish the overall vision for the Next 100 Coalition’s Colorado Network, and facilitate planning to put three statewide projects into action over the next year. The Next 100 Coalition is a national group making parks and public lands more diverse and inclusive.

Learn more about the Next 100 Coalition’s vision and work

The Fort: Trails, Camping and Satellite Hub

$29,566 grant to City of Delta

The City of Delta used a GOCO grant to expand its “Connecting Trails to History” project at the 360-acre Confluence Park. Funds were used to construct “The Fort Trail,” which will connect Fort Uncompahgre to the existing River Trail. The new trail segment will include interpretive signage so visitors can learn about the Fort’s history, the Ute Indians who originally inhabited the area, and the historic North Delta Ferry. Additionally, the City has proposed building a gear library at the Fort to provide youth and community members with access to gear and outdoor recreation opportunities. Lastly, the project will also include the installation of tipis to serve as outdoor classrooms for summer youth programming. The project is part of GOCO's Generation Wild program, which is comprised of twelve communities across Colorado who are working to get more kids outside through partnerships, programs, places, and pathways.

Learn more about Generation Wild’s The Nature Connection coalition

Town of Carbondale Aquatic Facility Master Plan

$56,250 grant to Town of Carbondale

The Town of Carbondale used its GOCO grant to create an aquatic facility master plan. The master plan solicited feedback from the community to support and guide the renovation of the John M. Fleet Pool. Using outreach and public opinion data, planners aimed to create a comprehensive master plan guided by the community’s collective vision about the desired pool’s amenities, design, and location. The plan also addresses funding and cost scenarios, operations and maintenance considerations, a fundraising plan, and financial feasibility analyses.

Read the full Aquatic Facility’s master plan