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GOCO awards $4.8 million for land conservation and school playgrounds in Colorado communities

Thursday, December 10, 2015 -- GOCO
December 10, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 12/10/2015

Contact: Todd Cohen, o: 303.226.4530 c: 303-503-9068, tcohen@goco.org, or

                     Laura Cardon, 303-226-4531, lcardon@goco.org

 

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board today awarded nearly $5 million in funding for 35 projects across Colorado. Projects include construction and upgrades for trails, parks, and aging school playgrounds, conservation of critical open spaces, invasive species removal, and fire fuel mitigation.

New in 2016, all schools funded through GOCO’s School Play Yard Initiative will become partner schools in the Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLE) program run by Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW). SOLE provides schools with field trips, family nature nights, and training that will enable teachers to take full advantage of the redesigned playgrounds when they are finished.

In total, GOCO funding will:

  • Preserve 4,558 acres of land, 705 of which are sage-grouse range.
  • Protect more than 10 miles of river
  • Restore 1.5 miles of river habitat
  • Clear 100 acres of fire fuels
  • Remove 51.6 acres of invasive plant species
  • Construct or rehabilitate 37.18 miles of trails
  • Design five new school playgrounds in low-income communities

 

ADAMS COUNTY
Clyde Miller P-8 School Playground Renovation, $7,000 grant to the City of Aurora on behalf of Clyde Miller P-8

The grant will provide professional design services for Clyde Miller P-8 in northeastern Aurora. The school is just under the threshold to receive Title-I funding from the federal government, but still faces the variety of educational challenges correlated with poverty. The 34-year-old school playground is unable to handle the needs of the current student population of nearly 600 children, and a new playground will also help leverage existing after-school programming. The school will reapply for construction funds in April 2016.

Brighton’s Morgan Smith Native Area Project, $15,000 grant to the City of Brighton

The grant will employ crews from Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) for two weeks at Morgan Smith Nature Area in Brighton. Crews of 16- to 24-year-olds will remove several invasive species across 19 acres of the nature area, improving wildlife habitat and public use opportunities. Youth employed by MHYC on this project will also receive urban forestry education sessions.

 

CHAFFEE COUNTY

Steel Ranch Conservation Easement, $555,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in partnership with Colorado Cattleman’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT)

 

The grant will permanently conserve a 186-acre agricultural ranch in the Upper Arkansas Valley. Public fishing access and wildlife habitat will also be preserved. The preservation of this property will create a buffer and community separator for surrounding Buena Vista, Johnson Village, and Nathrop.

 

Supporting the Future of Salida, $39,300 grant to the City of Salida

 

The grant will employ crews from the Southwest Conservation Corps – Los Valles for six weeks on the Salida Trail Ecological Restoration Project and the Salida School Garden. Crews will work to remove invasive species, reseed native grasses, plant native shrubs and trees, perform fire fuel mitigation, restore river habitat, maintain creek flow, and collect native seeds.

 

COSTILLA COUNTY

Rio Culebra Ranch Conservation Easement Project, $171,000 grant to Colorado Open Lands

 

The grant will help conserve the 225-acre Valdez Rio Culebra Ranch, allowing the property to continue its agricultural ranching and protect water rights in the San Pedro Ditch and further upstream. The property is adjacent to more than 1,000 acres of additional conserved lands and its conservation will help ensure the future viability of agriculture in the region.

DELTA COUNTY

Paonia Loop Trail Project, $12,600 grant to the Town of Paonia

 

The grant will fund two weeks of work by Western Conservation Corps crews. Youth will triple the length of the existing trails at Paonia River Park, one of the only public access points to the North Fork of the Gunnison River. The park has previously received nearly $150,000 in funding from GOCO for park development and improvements.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Swallowtail & Ringtail Trail Corridor, $22,500 grant to Douglas County Open Space

 

The grant will employ Mile High Youth Corps crews for two weeks for erosion control along 10 miles of trails within Nelson Ranch and Pike Hill Open Space.

 

EAGLE COUNTY

Eagle Valley Elementary School IB and Community Play Yard, $7,000 to the Town of Eagle on behalf of Eagle Valley Elementary International Baccalaureate (IB) World School (EVES)

 

The grant will fund professional design services for EVES in Eagle. EVES is the oldest elementary school in the Eagle County School District, where approximately 50% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch rates, 50% of students are English Language Learners, and most of the student body lives within half a mile of the school.  An important component of IB school curriculum is stewardship of the earth; the GOCO grant will not only revitalize a once-loved playground, but will also expand learning opportunities for students. The community has already engaged in fundraising and outreach efforts for the last three years.

 

EL PASO COUNTY

Black Canyon Road/Voth Acquisition Grant, $293,000 grant to the City of Manitou Springs

 

The grant will enable Manitou Springs to acquire a 33.48-acre property between the city and Garden of the Gods Park. The property is the only large, undeveloped parcel between Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods and was up for sale. The city hopes this land acquisition will help realize its goal of a trail network surrounding Manitou Springs.  The property will be open to the public and is also of cultural significance to the Ute Tribe.

 

FREMONT COUNTY

Wilson Creek Ranch Conservation Easement, $300,000 to Palmer Land Trust

 

The grant will permanently protect 1,135 acres on the southern slopes of Pikes Peak. This project will expand a previous conservation easement, preserving the entire 2,212-acre Wilson Creek Ranch. The property is highly visible along the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway and will also conserve wildlife habitat and four stream corridors. Public access for hunting and fishing will also be preserved by this project.

Royal Gorge Park Improvement Project, $48,450 grant to the City of Cañon City

The grant will fund eight weeks of Youth Corps work at Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Crews from Mile High Youth Corps – Southern Front Range will construct two to three miles of new trails and plant 2,500 seedlings in the burn area to help the park continue its long road to recovery since the 2013 wildfire.

GARFIELD COUNTY

Sopris Elementary School Playground Renovation Project, $7,000 grant to the City of Glenwood Springs on behalf of Sopris Elementary School

 

Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs has a student body that is 40% English Language Learners. The free and reduced lunch rate is just over 45%, and the school serves more than 600 students. Students have already led outreach efforts to various community groups, and the GOCO grant will help fix drainage issues, improve handicap and community-wide access, and establish outdoor learning spaces. Drainage issues currently make half of the playground completely inaccessible in the spring.  The school will reapply for construction funds in April 2016.

 

GUNNISON COUNTY

Marble Basecamp Project: Kids and Conservation, $273,400 grant to Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT)

 

The grant will permanently protect a 46.7-acre base camp for outdoor education and backpacking experiences for local students. The property, located in the White River National Forest, was for sale and the grant to AVLT will ensure the continuation and expansion of access for youth programming.

 

Crested Butte Trail & Open Space Stewardship, $25,200 grant to the Town of Crested Butte

 

The grant will fund one month of Youth Corps work in the Gunnison Valley. Over 1,000 acres in the valley have been previously conserved, but increasing use of the area requires substantial environmental work. The town will hire Youth Corps crews from the Western Colorado Conservation Corps (WCCC) to complete 12.5 miles of trail maintenance, two miles of fence repairs, and noxious weed treatment.

 

JEFFERSON COUNTY

Lawrence Elementary Playground, $7,000 grant to the City of Arvada on behalf of Lawrence Elementary School

 

The grant will fund professional design services for a new playground at Lawrence Elementary School. Students are part of a refugee, housing-insecure, and generally underserved population in Arvada. Nearly 75% of the student body qualifies for free and reduced lunch, and Lawrence is the closest playground for children in the area, many of whom do not have their own yards to play in. The school will reapply for construction funds in April 2016.

 

Russian Olive Removal at Bear Creek Greenbelt, $75,000 grant to the City of Lakewood

 

The grant will employ crews from Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) to remove invasive Russian olive trees on Bear Creek. A $75,000 GOCO grant will enable the city to employ crews for 10 weeks of work on 120 acres of Bear Creek Greenbelt Park. 

 

Dedisse Park Trail and Restoration Project, $23,400 grant to the City of Denver Department of Parks and Recreation

 

The grant will employ crews from MHYC for trail improvements at Dedisse Mountain Park near Evergreen. Approximately half of the two-mile Dedisse trail needs to be rebuilt, and crews from MHYC will also work to close 6,000 acres of user-created trails.

 

LARIMER COUNTY

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space West Expansion, $1 million grant to Larimer County

 

The grant will fund the county’s acquisition of 399 acres for purposes of expanding Horsetooth Mountain Open Space to the west for a total of more than 3,100 acres. The purchase also will conserve habitat and travel corridors for non-game wildlife and approximately one mile of Redstone Creek.

 

Ward Trust Property, $500,000 grant to the City of Loveland

 

The grant will conserve 73 acres adjacent to the Morey Wildlife Reserve. The area provides habitat for big game species and bald eagles and boasts impressive views of Longs Peak, Devil’s Backbone Open Space, and Mount Meeker. The acquisition will also provide a buffer from residential development.

 

Big Thompson Riparian Restoration, $15,000 grant to the City of Loveland

 

The grant will employ crews from Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) to remove invasive Russian olive trees from a 12-acre area along the Big Thompson River in Cottonwood Run Natural Area. Crews will work for two weeks.

 

Hermit Park Open Space New Trail Construction, $40,200 grant to the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources

 

LCCC chainsaw and camping crews will spend six weeks constructing two miles of a new multi-use trail at Hermit Park Open Space.

 

Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, $30,000 grant to Colorado State University and Colorado State Forest Service

 

The grant will employ Youth Corps crews for one month on the scout ranch, which GOCO helped permanently preserve in 2010 with a $1.5 million grant; it provides programming to scouting groups from 16 western and mid-western states. The Youth Corps crews will mitigate fire fuels on 100 acres of high-risk land.

 

LOGAN COUNTY

Caliche Elementary Operation Playground, $7,000 grant to Logan County on behalf of Caliche Elementary School

 

The grant will provide professional design services for a new playground at Caliche Elementary School. The school grounds are shared with the junior/senior high school, and the GOCO grant will help create an engaging hub for outdoor play in a small, rural school district. Caliche serves as one of the only outdoor play spaces for kids in the Iliff community, but it has outdated equipment that fails to meet safety standards. Students have already traveled to schools previously funded by GOCO and have presented to local government entities.

 

MESA COUNTY

Fruitlands Forever V, $157,700 grant to Mesa Land Trust

 

The grant will enable Mesa Land Trust to execute the fifth phase of its Fruitlands Forever Initiative. The initiative has been a multi-year effort to conserve fruit farms in the Palisade area and to date has conserved 13 family orchards on 300 acres. This latest conservation effort will permanently protect a 22-acre peach and apricot farm adjacent to the Fruit and Wine Scenic Byway. To date, GOCO has invested more than $2.3 million in the area to conserve working family farms.

 

Bull Creek Conservation Easement, $269,500 grant to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

 

The grant will conserve the 520-acre Bull Creek Ranch east of Grand Junction. The landowners are participating in the Molina Habitat Restoration Initiative that will restore mule deer and elk habitat on the property, and the conservation of the land will hopefully help increase mule deer populations in the area.

 

Indian Wash at Matchett Park, $15,000 grant to the City of Grand Junction

 

The grant will employ Western Colorado Conservation Corps crews at Matchett Park. Crews will clear tamarisk and Russian olive trees on a 2.5-acre area of the park to ensure future park development can take place. GOCO has previously funded more than $107,000 in grants to develop the parks master plan, trails, and other amenities.

 

MONTEZUMA COUNTY

The Back 40, $100,000 grant to Montezuma Land Conservancy

 

The grant will conserve 50 acres adjacent to Carpenter Natural Area and Geer Park. In 2014, the landowner removed his no-trespassing signs and opened his custom-built five-mile trail network to the public. The trails are already extremely popular with members of the community, visitors, and employees of a neighboring medical complex, and the GOCO grant will ensure it remains a permanent fixture of the Cortez community.

 

Mesa School Garden & Wild Lands Area Installment, $25,200 grant to the City of Cortez

 

The grant will employ youth from Southwest Conservation Corps – Four Corners. The crews will work for one month to install a new school garden and nature trail at Mesa Elementary School, a project that will expand educational opportunities and serve more than 400 students each week.

 

MONTROSE COUNTY

Galley Ranch Conservation Project, $436,000 grant to Colorado Cattleman’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT)

 

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) received a $436,000 GOCO grant to conserve 705 acres of the Galley Ranch in the Uncompahgre National Forest. This is the last parcel of the ranch to be preserved, and the Galley family has donated more than $1.5 million in land value for this project.

 

The Galleys are third-generation Colorado ranchers, and the conservation of their land will preserve wildlife habitat for dozens of species. The property has also been designated as historic range for Gunnison sage grouse, protecting hundreds of acres of habitat for this sensitive species. Public access on the land will also continue in the form of youth agricultural education and hunting access.

 

Marine Road Open Space Invasive Weed Management, $15,000 grant to the City of Montrose

 

The grant will fund two weeks of Youth Corps work to eradicate invasive plant species along the Uncompahgre River. Crews from Western Colorado Conservation Corps will spray or remove Russian olive, tamarisk, thistle and white top before planting 18 native species and protecting young plants from beavers. Work will take place on the 18.1-acre Marine Road Open Space.

 

RIO GRANDE COUNTY

River Valley Restoration 2016, $12,600 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

 

The grant will employ youth from Southwest Conservation Corps – Los Valles for two weeks on a conserved ranch that is managed for agricultural production and ecological value. The special focus of this project is enlarging habitat for the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher with approximately 40 new acres of wildlife habitat along 1.5 miles of river.

 

ROUTT COUNTY

Glas Deffryn Ranch: Yampa River Parcel, $225,000 grant to Yampa Valley Land Trust

 

The grant will help Yampa Valley Land Trust (YVLT) to acquire a conservation easement on the 86.25-acre Glas Deffryn Ranch. The ranch is bisected by the Yampa River and borders Stagecoach State Park. This new conservation project will complete an 825-acre buffer of open space and will protect scenic views as well as wildlife habitat for elk, mule deer, bald eagles, and other species.

 

Hitchen’s Island Bird Habitat and Trail Rehabilitation, $11,700 grant to the City of Steamboat Springs

 

The grant will allow for two weeks of work on the Spring Creek Trail. Crews will reconstruct portions of the trail to enhance trail safety, prevent erosion, and protect water quality. Six water diversion structures will be completed, along with the resurfacing of two bridge decks, vegetation management, and reconstructing the damaged trailhead.

 

Spring Creek Trail Reconstruction

 

The grant will employ crews on Hitchen’s Island in downtown Steamboat Springs. The project will include installing 10 bird houses, repairing fencing, vegetation management, and trail reconstruction. Corpsmembers’ work will prevent erosion and protect water quality in the Yampa River.

 

TELLER COUNTY

Wilson Creek Ranch Conservation Easement, $300,000 to Palmer Land Trust

 

The grant will permanently protect 1,135 acres on the southern slopes of Pikes Peak. This project will expand a previous conservation easement, preserving the entire 2,212-acre Wilson Creek Ranch. The property is highly visible along the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway and will also conserve wildlife habitat and four river corridors. Public access for hunting and fishing will also be preserved by this project.

WELD COUNTY

The Coal Creek Corridor Improvement Project, $11,700 grant to the Town of Erie Parks and Recreation Department

 

The grant will fund work by crews from Boulder County Youth Corps. Corpsmembers will repair five miles of heavily used trails in the Coal Creek corridor. The project will address a backlog of deferred maintenance and repairs along the Coal Creek Trail Corridor, which is frequented by walkers, runners, and bicyclists and is home to native wildlife.

 

These grants support Governor John Hickenlooper's Colorado Beautiful initiative by identifying and filling critical gaps in connectivity for trails and open spaces, and GOCO’s new “Protect, Connect, Inspire” strategic plan, which focuses on land preservation, trails, and encouraging more youth to get outdoors.

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 4,500 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.