Denver- Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Gates Family Foundation, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management awarded $2,718,300 to 11 habitat restoration and stewardship projects across the state. The GOCO Board committed $1 million to the collaborative funding effort in March 2020.
The grants are part of the inaugural round of funding for the RESTORE Colorado program. Restoration and Stewardship of Outdoor Resources (RESTORE) Colorado funds at-scale habitat restoration, expansion, and improvement projects across priority landscapes including:
- River corridors, riparian areas, and wetlands
- Eastern Colorado grasslands
- Big game winter range and migration routes
- Forestland projects in specific geographies
This year’s grantees generated $3,353,600 in match funding, providing a total conservation impact of $6,071,900.
Grant details are as follows:
Combating Habitat Fragmentation and Loss in Grassland Ecosystems
$378,465 grant to Bird Conservancy of the Rockies
The project will help reverse the decline of grassland obligate bird species by combating habitat fragmentation and loss through collaborative efforts in Colorado. The conservancy will work with landowners and other resource professionals to conserve 40,000 grassland acres on private working lands.
Improving Big Game Winter Habitat on the San Juan National Forest
$150,000 grant to Dolores Public Lands Office
The project will improve and enhance habitat conditions for big game transitional and winter ranges on the San Juan National Forest - Dolores Ranger District in Colorado by using thinning and prescribed fire across 400 acres of ponderosa pine habitat.
Improving Big Game Winter Range and Restoring Sagebrush Habitat
$250,000 grant to State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources
The project will focus on expanding capacity related to planned and ongoing landscape scale habitat management activities in the Bears Ears and White River priority big game herd management units. The department will also work towards removing 40 miles of fencing and restoring 680 acres of sagebrush habitat.
Improving Wildlife Connectivity and Motorist Safety Across US Highway 24
$267,853 grant to Colorado Department of Transportation
The project will restore a safe migration corridor for the Mosquito Range, Buffalo Peaks, and South Park mule deer and elk herds across US Highway 24 in Colorado. Additional work will also be done to improve motorist safety and decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions by 90% by installing four miles of fencing to direct elk, deer, and other wildlife to an existing wildlife bridge.
Modifying Fences on Private Ranches to Improve Wildlife Connectivity through Grassland Habitat
$216,002 grant to Southern Plains Land Trust
The project will focus on improving habitat connectivity for pronghorn, elk, mule deer, and other grassland obligates in shortgrass prairie in southeastern Colorado. Additional work will be done to remove, replace, or modify 50 miles of fencing to increase wildlife access and improve livestock management.
Removing Fish Barriers and Restoring the Conejos River Floodplain
$350,000 grant to Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation
The project will focus on improving aquatic and riparian habitat on the South Branch of the Conejos River in Colorado by replacing three irrigation diversions currently acting as fish barriers. Additional project components include the re-opening of more than nine miles of stream and the restoration of nearly 24 acres of floodplain and streambanks.
Removing Invasive Conifer to Restore Sagebrush Habitat
$100,000 grant to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Colorado Partners for Fish and Wildlife
The project will enhance sagebrush habitats in priority Colorado Partners for Fish and Wildlife focal areas to support Gunnison sage-grouse. Invasive conifer trees will be removed to improve 500 acres of habitat and work will be done to implement wet meadow restoration projects on 50 acres of privately owned working lands.
Removing Invasive Tamarisk and Russian Olive to Restore Habitat for Endangered Fish and Birds
$128,018 grant to RiversEdge West
The project will focus on systematically removing invasive tamarisk and Russian olive while revegetating floodplains in the Grand Valley to open backwater habitat for endangered fish. The project will enhance habitat along a 25-mile stretch of the Colorado River for native and migratory birds, which includes the endangered razorback sucker.
Restoring Forest Habitat in Chaffee County to Reduce Risk of Catastrophic Wildfire
$366,310 grant to Chaffee County
The project will strategically assess forests at the headwaters of the Arkansas River in Chaffee County to identify areas where prescribed forest thinning will both reduce the risk of wildfire and its effect on surrounding communities as well as create healthier forest habitat. In addition to the forest treatment plan, seeding efforts will be made to restore more than 400 acres of habitat.
Restoring Mesic Meadow and Sagebrush Habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse and Big Game Species
$238,658 grant to Wildlands Restoration Volunteers
The project will help restore sagebrush shrublands and mesic wet meadows to benefit greater sage-grouse and big game species in northwest Colorado. Efforts will also be made to restore hydrology on 40 acres of private lands by installing 400 mesic meadow restoration (“Zeedyk”) structures and removing 20 miles of fencing.
Restore Platte River Wetlands Habitat to Benefit Ducks, Geese and Waterbirds
$272,954 grant to Ducks Unlimited
The project will focus on enhancing habitat for ducks, geese, and other waterbirds that depend upon high-quality wetland habitats being available during critical periods of their life cycles. Other project components include the restoration of 830 acres of floodplain wetlands and 1,878 acres of mesic habitat. These efforts will also help improve the management of 2,791 acres.
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 5,300 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.