Lake San Cristobal. Photo courtesy of The Trust for Public Land.
DENVER- The GOCO board has awarded $6,935,509 in funding to 21 projects across the state through the Resilient Communities Program (RCP), which funds one-time, immediate needs or opportunities that have emerged in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program helps partners advance outdoor recreation, stewardship, and land protection projects in a manner that best reflects community needs and priorities at this unique moment in time. To date, the RCP has awarded a total of $10.3 million to 41 projects.
The funding awarded in this cycle will be used for many purposes, including to:
- Support community conservation and restoration projects in Gunnison County, Park County, and across the Roaring Fork Valley
- Address critical trail and natural resource stewardship needs in Colorado Springs, Cañon City, Longmont, Pitkin County, Clear Creek County, Denver, Durango, and three state parks
- Build capacity to steward and maintain local parks in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Durango
- Facilitate the development or expansion of trailheads, trailhead facilities, or campgrounds at Carter Lake; across Grand County; and in Cañon City, Loveland, and Clear Creek County
- Support land acquisitions that provide public access in three communities experiencing unprecedented rural real estate sales in Hot Sulphur Springs, near Lake City, and in Alma
Addressing Stewardship and Conservation Needs in Park County, $129,061 grant to Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT)
MALT will hire a full-time stewardship director to address the impacts of increased recreation at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area and Sacramento Creek Ranch (SCR). Both preserves have seen a spike in visitation since the pandemic began, which has damaged the natural resources and fragile ecosystems. The director will also oversee new trail construction in partnership with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado in the coming year. Lastly, the position will help MALT broaden its conservation portfolio and continue ongoing efforts to expand high alpine research at SCR.
Alma Town Park and Buckskin Gulch Land Acquisitions, $320,000 grant to Town of Alma
The Town of Alma will use its GOCO funding to purchase two parcels of land: one 80-acre parcel in Buckskin Gulch and another 1.1-acre parcel adjacent to Alma Town Park. The Buckskin Gulch property encompasses Buckskin Creek, which is the main source of water for the Alma community. The parcel located next to Alma Town Park has been used by the community for years with permission from the landowner and was recently listed for sale. Purchasing the property will allow the Town to install a permanent skate park and provide space for the annual Festival in the Clouds.
Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnerships Initiative, $320,000 grant to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)
On October 30, 2020, Governor Polis signed an executive order officially establishing the Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnership Initiative (CO-OP). Together, CPW and the CO-OP will create a statewide vision to ensure Colorado’s natural resources continue to define our state and benefit our citizens and visitors. The partners will engage several regional coalitions across the state to help develop strategies and compile local priorities into regional plans. Ultimately, the regional plans will inform a statewide outdoor conservation and recreation plan and help advance the statewide vision.
Connecting Communities to Conserved Lands, $399,665 grant to Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT)
AVLT will use its GOCO funding to support five outdoor projects at several parks, trails, and open spaces across Garfield and Gunnison counties. In Gunnison County, AVLT will expand access and infrastructure at Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp and restore Marble Children’s Park. AVLT will also further development efforts at Silt River Preserve, the open space area that is home to Highwater Farm, which employs local students to grow produce for distribution to food banks. Finally, in Carbondale, AVLT will complete restoration projects at Red Hill Trailhead and Riverfront Park to improve access for residents and visitors.
Dedicated Transboundary Pile Burn Crew for Addressing the Pandemic Fuels, $751,681 grant to Forest Stewards Guild
Larimer County and the Forest Stewards Guild will use GOCO funding for needed fire fuel mitigation work in the Big Thompson and Poudre River watersheds, which were impacted by this year’s historic fire season. The two watersheds provide drinking water to more than 1.3 million people, so protecting these lands from forest fire is important for community health. This project will improve fire safety in Larimer County and provide valuable training to new firefighters that will be essential during future fire seasons.
Durango Open Space and Trails Program Support, $140,605 grant to City of Durango
The City of Durango will partner with Durango Trails, a trails stewardship non-profit, to hire and mobilize open space rangers and crew leaders to respond to the significant impacts of increased land use. Additionally, crew leaders and rangers will collaborate with area land managers to maximize capacity for trail stewardship and leverage volunteer support. Lastly, crew leaders and rangers will work together to plan and implement activities that foster resiliency in local open space areas for the coming years anticipating that many new outdoor enthusiasts will likely remain trail users into the future.
Fremont County Campground and Trail Critical Stewardship Project, $129,255 grant to City of Cañon City
This funding will support a wide variety of improvements at Royal Gorge Park, Oil Wells Flats, and other areas in the city. At Royal Gorge Park, the City will use GOCO funds to expand parking areas, install bear-proof trash receptacles, expand water access for wildlife, and place new signage on trails. In addition, the camping areas at Royal Gorge Oil Wells Flats are in need of maintenance due to damage from ongoing misuse. Finally, on 33 miles of trail across the city, camping crews from Mile High Conservation Service Corps will work for six weeks to address a variety of maintenance needs.
Glacier Farm, $127,292 grant to Crested Butte Land Trust (CBLT)
CBLT, in partnership with Mountain Roots Food Project, will use GOCO funds to engage and train community members in sustainable agricultural practices to augment food production at Glacier Farm. Using a “corps model,” Mountain Roots and CBLT will train volunteers to help create additional space for crop production, create a harvest station, remove invasive plant species, and improve irrigation systems. Additionally, funds will be used to help employ a graduate fellow during the field season to assist with developing an agricultural master plan, increase community engagement and volunteerism, and develop the “farm corp” model for long-term operations.
Himebaugh Creek Property Acquisition, $208,750 grant to Town of Hot Sulphur Springs
The Town of Hot Sulphur Springs will use its funding to acquire the 270-acre Himebaugh Creek property, which connects the town to Arapaho National Forest. The parcel will be developed into a public open space, providing recreational opportunities to residents in an area of town with no public park. The property contributes to scenic views from Highway 40, which sees approximately 3,600 cars each day. It is also an important migration corridor for big game and provides habitat for small mammals, several raptor species, and neotropical migrant birds.
Lake San Cristobal Island, $1,305,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land (TPL)
With this funding, TPL will protect a 10.3-acre peninsula property that will become public open space for residents and visitors to Lake San Cristobal. The property, which will be owned by Hinsdale County, will offer recreationalists views of the lake and nearby headwaters and will serve as a key access point for year-round activities. Due to surrounding private lands and the area’s steep topography, the shoreline has remained largely inaccessible. By placing the property into public ownership, the County hopes to alleviate the bottlenecking and congestion that currently occurs on the peninsula and provide access to additional County-owned land.
Longmont Emerging Land Stewardship Needs, $219,585 grant to City of Longmont
With its funding, the City of Longmont will partner with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) to deploy volunteer crews for needed maintenance at four locations: the City’s greenway trails, Golden Ponds, McIntosh Lake, and Sandstone Ranch Nature Area. Many of Longmont’s open spaces and trails have seen an uptick in use since the pandemic began, and the City’s ongoing relationship with WRV will help engage the Spanish-speaking community and accomplish the needed work. The City of Longmont will also partner with WRV to expand its volunteer base in the Latinx community by hosting a bilingual training day for those interested in leading a conservation project.
Making Clear Creek County More Resilient, in the Vast, Great Outdoors, $343,933 grant to Clear Creek County
With this funding, Clear Creek County will improve access to the Floyd Hill Open Space and Park (FHOSP) trailhead by expanding the entrance driveway and parking areas. These upgrades will create safer access from Highway 40 and address overflow parking issues. Funding will also support new restrooms at the trailhead as well as an entrance sign and map kiosk. Additionally, this grant will support the County in hiring a TeamWorks youth work crew for trail maintenance, both at FHOSP and on other trails. TeamWorks is a program through TEENS, Inc., a nonprofit that provides paid employment and learning opportunities to youth of different backgrounds.
Oxbow Natural Area and Loveland Recreation Trail, $330,332 grant to City of Loveland
The City of Loveland will restore and enhance trailhead facilities at Oxbow Natural Area with the help of GOCO funds. Trails here have seen a 71% increase in use since the pandemic began, and the City hopes to expand accessibility and usability of this valuable recreation resource. Proposed improvements include five nature-play features, interpretive signage, expanded parking, a new sidewalk and pedestrian crossing, a bike repair station and rack, and a permanent restroom facility. The City will also restore native grasses near the trailhead and improve drainage to the Big Thompson River.
Parking & Trailhead Enhancements for COVID Compliance & Capacity, $250,000 grant to Grand County
Grand County will use its GOCO funding to improve trailheads at 15 locations that have seen record use since the pandemic began. A record fire season closed many trails in the area, further concentrating a large user base onto fewer trails. Crews will make improvements across the locations by expanding parking lots; hardening trail surfaces; and installing interpretive signage, kiosks with COVID protocol information, bear-proof trash receptacles, bike racks, and portable toilets. Proposed trailheads for this work include Twin Bridges, Lower Creekside, St. Louis Creek, Deadhorse, Leland Creek, Fraser River Canyon, Tab Rock, and Hurd Peak.
Resiliency through Community Connections, $296,778 grant to High Line Canal Conservancy
High Line Canal Conservancy will use its RCP funding to increase staff capacity, implement a community-led stewardship program, and enhance its relationships with under-resourced communities. To enrich its relationships with the communities, the Conservancy will develop a comprehensive plan, hire local youth ambassadors to lead community involvement, and coordinate with community members on canal improvements. Funding will also support stewardship efforts along the canal, including noxious weed and trash removal, tree planting, and revegetation.
Resilient Communities Youth Program, $456,646 grant to City and County of Denver
With its funding, Denver and project partners will develop the Resilient Communities Youth Program, a youth-centered network to implement stewardship projects in parks across the city. Denver Parks and Recreation has identified 15 projects that they are currently unable to address due to a 60% drop in operations during the pandemic. Teams of youth crew members will address a variety of issues at the identified parks, including noxious weed removal, erosion control, trash removal, ecological surveys, revegetation, and more.
Sky View Campground at Carter Lake, $475,334 grant to Larimer County
In Loveland, Larimer County will use its funding to build Sky View Campground on the east side of Carter Lake Reservoir. The campground will be located across from the existing Carter Knolls Campground and feature three pods each containing five sites, including one ADA-accessible site per pod. Each site will have electric hookups to accommodate both tent and RV campers, a picnic table, and a fire ring. The campground will also offer a reservable pavilion, vault toilets, and a parking lot. This addition will expand Carter Lake’s capacity by accommodating 17,000 additional campers annually.
Stewardship of Public Parks and Open Spaces in Colorado, $340,000 grant to City of Colorado Springs
In partnership with Rocky Mountain Field Institute, the City of Colorado Springs will use GOCO funds to employ 5-7 seasonal workers to complete stewardship projects over the course of two years. Stewardship activities will include new trail construction and restoration, fence installation and repair, habitat protection, and erosion control. Workers will benefit from environmental education opportunities, including training in Leave No Trace practices. Additionally, the City will partner with the Trails and Open Space Coalition to develop a Trail Ambassadors Program to educate users on trail safety and etiquette.
TeamWorks-State Park Collaborative, $81,163 grant to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)
CPW, in partnership with TEENS, Inc., will hire TeamWorks crews for trail maintenance projects at Golden Gate Canyon, Eldorado Canyon, and Castlewood Canyon state parks. The TeamWorks program, which operates out of Nederland-based nonprofit TEENS, Inc., pairs mixed groups of urban and rural Colorado youth to work together on paid conservation projects. The three state parks have all seen an unprecedented surge in visitation throughout 2020, creating deteriorating trail conditions and more undesignated trails. Several TeamWorks crews will work for eight weeks from June to August 2021 to address maintenance needs across the three parks.
The Cuchara Mountain Park Resiliency Project, $219,602 grant to Huerfano County
With this funding, the County will build a 1,200 square-foot pavilion at Cuchara Mountain Park (CMP). The new structure will provide space for local schools to host outdoor classes, the park to host recreation programs, and community members to gather for celebrations and other events. As a part of this project, the County will hire a park safety manager to manage use of the structure and oversee safe visitation at CMP. The County will also create the Huerfano County Youth Conservation Corps, a pilot project to employ local youth to work on environmental protection and enhancement.
Volunteer Stewardship on Pitkin County Open Space, $90,825 grant to Pitkin County
Through a collaborative effort, Pitkin County will use GOCO funds to help expand an Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) program to address backlogged stewardship projects and the impacts of increased land use since the onset of COVID-19. The County will use funds to supplement an RFOV program manager salary, to hire a seasonal field coordinator and a part-time crew leader, and to leverage staff support for volunteer recruitment and training. Since the pandemic began, RFOV has experienced significant budget cuts and a decrease in donations, which has impacted the organization’s staff and service area capacity.