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 5,200 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 October, 11 projects closed, representing more than $1.9 million in GOCO investments into local communities across the state. Scroll to see if one’s near you:

Buckley Air Force Base Compatible Use Buffer Parcel 14

$150,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land

With the help of GOCO funds, The Trust for Public Land partnered with Arapahoe County, the City of Aurora, and the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program to purchase Parcel 14, a 69.4-acre property near Buckley Air Force Base. A conservation easement was also acquired for the property ensuring its open space, wildlife habitat, and scenic views are protected in perpetuity. The City of Aurora will provide public access on the property for passive outdoor recreation and education including trails for wildlife viewing, pedestrians, and cyclists. Parcel 14 builds upon the larger Buckley Air Force Base Compatible Use Buffer Protect project, which has received more than $2.5 million in GOCO funding.

Read about the full scope of the Buckley Compatible Use Buffer project

Alamosa Riparian Park

$695,000 grant to Western Rivers Conservancy

Western Rivers Conservancy and the City of Alamosa invested GOCO funds in acquiring a 203.4-acre property to help meet community demand for more trails and recreation opportunities. The acquired land, which stretches 1.5 miles along the Upper Rio Grande River, added 30% to Alamosa’s trail system and has expanded southern access to the river. The property is home to 170 acres of narrowleaf cottonwood woodlands, a rare ecosystem in need of conservation. By maintaining the property as both wildlife habitat and passive recreation area, the city has taken a significant step in balancing the wildlife and recreation needs within its community.

Read GOCO’s Impact Story on the Alamosa Riparian Project

Town Park Playground Renovation Project

$349,241 grant to the Town of Crested Butte

GOCO awarded funds to the Town of Crested Butte to renovate the Mary Yelenick Playground into a pirate-themed play space. The new shipwreck-inspired playground is based on the Wydah Gally, a sunken pirate ship that was discovered in 1984 by a Crested Butte local. The playground not only connects Crested Butte residents with their town’s unique history, but will also inspire a new era of exploration and discovery for local youth.

Learn more about the project

Routt County Fairgrounds Improvement


With its GOCO grant, Routt County made improvements and additions to its historic fairgrounds site. Located in Hayden, Routt County’s first fair took place in 1914 and has become a vital asset to the community and the area’s rich agricultural heritage. Improvements to the fairground include new ADA accessibility, a pedestrian bridge, a sand volleyball court, and nine full-service RV sites. The new amenities will provide an improved experience for visitors and better accommodate the many events that take place throughout the year.

Learn more about the Routt County Fairgrounds

Parks, Recreation, Open Space, River and Trails Master Plan

$75,000 grant to the City of Steamboat Springs

The City of Steamboat Springs received a GOCO planning grant to develop a comprehensive parks, recreation, open space, river, and trails master plan. The plan will introduce a new 10-year vision for Steamboat’s parks, recreation, and open spaces based on community goals and needs. Additionally, the plan will analyze trends, evaluate supply and demand, provide recommendations for improvements, and identify actionable steps towards executing the plan’s vision.

Read Steamboat Springs’ Master Plan

Complete the Ring Planning Project

$100,000 grant to the City of Colorado Springs

With its GOCO grant, the City of Colorado Springs partnered with the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) to complete the southwest segment of the Ring the Peak Trail, a 67-mile, multi-use trail that loops around Pikes Peak. The planning grant helped Colorado Springs and TOSC hire a consultant to facilitate the completion of the 24.5-mile gap in the southwest portion of the trail. Additionally, the plan also helped identify and develop the “community connector,” a 15-mile segment of trail that will connect the towns of Victor and Cripple Creek and provide year-round trail access to neighboring communities.

Access the Ring the Peak Trail master plan

Virginia Canyon Open Space Master Plan

$62,000 GOCO grant to the City of Idaho Springs

The City of Idaho Springs received a GOCO planning grant to design and implement a network of multi-use trails that will run through the 400-acre Virginia Canyon Open Space. Presently, there are no trail systems within the City of Idaho Springs; the new trail system will provide visitors with safe access and scenic views while offering connections to Clear Creek Greenway and Central City.

Check out the full scope of the Virginia Canyon trails project

Elkhorn Creek Forest Restoration

$75,123 grant to The Nature Conservancy

With its GOCO grant, The Nature Conservancy partnered with the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed, Larimer County Conservation Corps, and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers to form the Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative. This initiative led a 35-acre forest restoration effort to reduce wildfire impacts, protect water supply, and create a forest structure to accommodate wildlife. The project is a smaller component of a larger initiative to restore 300 acres of habitat on the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch in the Red Feather Lakes region of Larimer County. Conducting these restoration projects in the watershed will help make communities, both human and wild, more resilient in the face of wildfires.

Learn more about the Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative here

Alma Riverwalk

$47,000 grant to the Town of Alma

The Town of Alma received a GOCO grant to complete the much-anticipated Riverwalk Trail and Park. Youth corps crews from Southwest Conservation Corps assisted in the design of the half-mile trail, helping ensure it is ADA accessible, includes education and environmental signage throughout, and exemplifies the community’s values. In addition, the Town of Alma hired a saw crew to clear portions of the trail that pass through heavily forested regions, allowing residents to enjoy the natural scenery and safely recreate.

Get more info on the Alma Riverwalk project

Russian Olive Removal Project

$53,287 grant to the City of Lakewood

The City of Lakewood used its GOCO grant to fund a multi-year effort to eradicate the Russian olive infestation throughout the Bear Creek Greenbelt. Russian olive is harmful to native species because it interferes with nutrient cycling and places a burden on water reserves. Youth corps crews from Mile High Youth Corps removed 220 Russian olive trees on six acres of the property, improving the wildlife habitat across the entire wetlands area of the Bear Creek Greenbelt.

Follow the Mile High Youth Corps’ progress on Facebook

Hutt Ranch

$38,700 grant to Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy

Through GOCO's Conservation Easement Transaction Costs program, Colorado Open Lands, in partnership with Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy, placed a perpetual conservation easement on Hutt Ranch. Situated between Olathe and Montrose, the 200-acre property is surrounded by rolling hills, open river valleys, and terraces flanked by the mountains along Colorado's western slope. Hutt Ranch, which encompasses a one mile stretch of the Uncompahgre River, supports a variety of Colorado's special status species including the Western yellow-billed cuckoo, North American river otter, bald eagle, and greater sandhill crane. Additional plans for the ranch include opening a public learning center to teach local and sustainable agricultural practices.

Learn more about GOCO’s Conservation Easement Transaction Costs grant