DENVER - The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded three conservation excellence grants totaling $193,239 on Friday to advance innovative approaches to land conservation across the state.
Central Colorado Conservancy received $18,239 for their Working Lands Helping Hands program; Colorado Open Lands received a $75,000 grant to establish the Conservation Futures Project Collaboration Incentive Fund; and Jefferson County Open Space was awarded a $100,000 grant to research ways to decrease user conflicts on trails.
GOCO’s conservation excellence grant program funds research and pilot projects that improve industry standards and tackle industry-wide issues for land conservation in Colorado.
Land trust organizations in all parts of the state recognize a need for greater public education to reduce conflict between groups, from user groups among outdoor recreationists to farmers and ranchers wanting to improve relations with neighbors who are not involved in agriculture. GOCO funding will invest in pilot projects tackling both of these issues, along with moving forward a new approach to incentivizing land trusts to work together and pool resources.
All three projects will have significant statewide impact on how land is conserved in Colorado, and how to best serve both landowners and the public.
Funded projects are as follows:
Envision Working Lands Helping Hands, $18,239 grant to Central Colorado Conservancy
The Central Colorado Conservancy will begin a new phase of the ongoing Envision Chaffee County project with GOCO funding. The Working Lands Helping Hands program will help meet needs expressed by landowners in Chaffee County due to Colorado’s growing population. This funding will provide new educational materials and methods to local landowners and realtors. Realtors for Rural, will educate local Realtors about agricultural operations in a partnership with Realtors of Central Colorado. The Growing Good Neighbors campaign will educate the public about the benefits of agriculture through messaging and on-the-ground programming.
Conservation Futures Project (CFP) Regional Collaboration Incentive Fund, $75,000 to Colorado Open Lands
Colorado Open Lands will pilot the next step of a nearly two year-long process to build a new statewide land trust coalition. Working with the Gates Family Foundation and the Trinchera Blanca Foundation, GOCO funding will establish the Regional Collaboration Incentive Fund to support land trusts seeking to address financial and capacity constraints. Potential projects that could receive funding include regional conservation planning, creating common messaging for landowner and external communications, pooling health care for employees, creating other shared service arrangements, and more.
Jeffco Open Space, Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife Interagency Trail Courtesy Study, $100,000 grant to Jefferson County Open Space
In response to significant conflicts among user groups at public open space, Jefferson County, Boulder County, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife will collaborate on an inter-agency study aimed at reducing conflict on the trail. GOCO funding will help conduct the study at North Table Mountain Park, Marshall Mesa, and Eldorado Canyon State Park. Phase one of the study will include extensive research of similar projects around the country and gather data on trail conflict during the busy summer 2019 season. Phase two of the project will create new signage based on initial findings before conducting more research to evaluate its effectiveness.
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.