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GOCO to help conserve 4,500 acres of open space, working ranches, orchards

Thursday, December 10, 2015 -- GOCO
December 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


GOCO to help conserve 4,500 acres of open space, working ranches, orchards

Horsetooth Mountain expansion, sage-grouse habitat among funded projects

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board announced today an investment of $4.3 million to permanently conserve 4,558 acres of high priority open lands that will provide unique public access and educational opportunities.

Notably, Larimer County received a $1 million grant to expand the popular Horsetooth Mountain Open Space outside of Fort Collins, and 705 acres of Gunnison sage-grouse habitat will be protected. Approximately 10 miles of river corridors will also be conserved, and 2,212 acres are located on scenic byways.

GOCO awarded Colorado Lottery-funded grants to 12 projects in 11 counties across the state. Grant details are as follows:

CHAFFEE COUNTY: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) partnered with Colorado Cattleman’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) and received $555,000 from GOCO to help permanently conserve a 186-acre agricultural ranch in the Upper Arkansas Valley. The ranch provides the scenic foreground for the scenic views from Highway 285, which is especially remarkable as it is less than a mile from municipal city limits. The conservation of this property will protect wildlife habitat for big game species and bald eagles. A half mile of the Arkansas River runs through the property, and public fishing access will also be preserved with this project.

COSTILLA COUNTY: Colorado Open Lands was awarded a $171,000 GOCO grant to conserve the 225-acre Rio Culebra Ranch, supporting continued agricultural ranching and protecting critical acequia 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.

EL PASO COUNTY: The City of Manitou Springs was awarded $293,000 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 AND TELLER COUNTIES: GOCO awarded a $300,000 grant to Palmer Land Trust to 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.

GUNNISON COUNTY: The Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT) received a $273,400 grant to permanently protect the 46.7-acre Marble Basecamp, which provides 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.

LARIMER COUNTY: GOCO awarded $1 million to Larimer County to acquire 399 acres on the west side of Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. The new property is near Lory State Park, contains approximately one mile of Redstone Creek, and will protect important migration paths for wildlife.

The City of Loveland, partnering with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Larimer County Open Lands, also received a $500,000 grant for 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, new trail access on the property and access adjacent public lands.

MESA COUNTY: Mesa Land Trust will execute the fifth phase of its Fruitlands Forever Initiative with a $157,700 GOCO grant. 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.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was awarded a $269,500 GOCO grant to 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.

MONTEZUMA COUNTY: A $100,000 GOCO grant will enable the Montezuma Land Conservancy to 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.

MONTROSE COUNTY: 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.

ROUTT COUNTY: A $225,000 GOCO 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.

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.