DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded $150,050 in funding to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) staff for eight new and innovative projects. The grants are part of GOCO’s CPW Director’s Innovation Fund (DIF), a partnership between GOCO and CPW designed to fund small-dollar, innovative projects across the state agency.
Now in its fifth year, projects include a recreational rangers pilot program, accessible walkways and parking, and an application for the International Dark Sky Places Program. The projects enable several upgrades to state parks and a wildlife area to make Colorado more accessible and enjoyable.
Grant details are as follows:
AHRA Rec Ranger Program, $23,818 GOCO grant to CPW
This grant will fund a Recreation Ranger pilot program to address recreational impacts on public lands in Chaffee County. Chaffee County public lands saw a massive increase in visitation during 2020, and the funding will support the hiring and training of two rangers. Their responsibilities will include stewardship activities such as trash clean-up, campsite containment, eradication of undesignated trails and campsites, campfire education, and mitigation of rock fire rings. This project will help ensure a sustainable future for outdoor recreation by balancing ecological and economic values.
Cherry Creek State Park Showers, $17,318 GOCO grant to CPW
Funding will update Cherry Creek State Park’s coin-operated showers to a credit card-based system. Cherry Creek State Park currently has three shower buildings with a total of 23 individual stalls. The upgraded system will feature card readers in each stall and signage on how to properly pay for the showers. This will lessen the burden on park visitors to carry cash and reduce the risk of theft. The project is the first of its kind in any Colorado state park but will follow a similar process to the self-serve kiosks that other parks have recently implemented.
Jackson Lake Campsite Beautification, $23,818 GOCO grant to CPW
Funding will help improve Jackson Lake State Park’s campground signage and enhance education opportunities. Damaged campground markers will be replaced with posts made from recycled, durable, long-lasting materials. They will feature unique facts about the park, CPW, the surrounding environment, area history, and more. A total of 260 new markers will be installed across the park’s campgrounds with the information provided in multiple languages to better serve the park’s diverse visitors. This project will benefit the park’s campers and help the park save money in the long term by being more sustainable and conserving resources.
JMR--Colorado River State Park Corn Lake ADA Fishing Pier, $16,912 GOCO grant to CPW
This project will update Colorado River State Park’s Corn Lake fishing pier by raising the fishing pier’s footer and stem wall back to the desired grade. To accomplish this, the lake will need to be lowered. To lower the water level in Corn Lake, the park is partnering with Western Colorado Conservation Corps to clear the outlet ditch of tamarisk and Russian olive trees. This allows the park to address the concerns with the accessibility of its fishing pier while also supporting local jobs in conservation and improving habitat conditions within the park.
Rifle Gap Dark Skies, $20,739 GOCO grant to CPW
This funding will allow the Rifle Gap State Park Complex (RGSPC) and CPW to pursue International Dark Sky certification for the complex’s three parks: Rifle Gap Reservoir, Rifle Falls, and Harvey Gap Reservoir. The application process will include eliminating, replacing, and modifying existing outdoor lighting to meet night sky quality standards; providing dark skies community outreach; and submitting annual reports of park activities and progress. Eliminating light pollution provides a clearer view of the night sky, and less lighting reduces costs.
Funding will also help the park purchase two telescopes for educational purposes and install interpretive signage. The park hopes that the certification will attract new visitors including astronomers, star-gazers, and photographers, as well as encourage members of the surrounding community to embrace the park in a new way.
Saguache Bear Dumpster Enclosures, $11,746 GOCO grant to CPW
Funding will support the construction of dumpster enclosures at two residential properties managed by the Saguache Housing Authority in efforts to help prevent human-wildlife conflicts. Both properties are located on the west side of town where bears often emerge from the mountains, find food, and then travel to other parts of town. Enclosures will provide an easy and cost-effective solution for residents to guard trash against bears and other wildlife, improving community safety.
Stalker Lake Access Improvements, $23,355 GOCO grant to CPW
This grant will fund a CPW accessibility improvement project at Stalker Lake State Wildlife Area. CPW will build a concrete walkway leading around Stalker Lake’s south shore to a fishing pier. Currently, the only wheelchair-accessible fishing area at Stalker Lake is on top of the concrete dam, which poses a safety risk for mobility-impaired anglers and does not provide any shade. CPW will also build a shade shelter at the end of the pier once the walkway is complete. Accessibility will be further enhanced with the addition of a parking area next to the existing boat ramp that will connect directly to the walkway. This project will benefit visitors of all abilities with improved fishing access, better shade, and increased safety.
Yampa River State Park Community Ice Rink, $12,342 GOCO grant to CPW
This funding will allow Yampa River State Park to install a winter-season professional ice rink in one of the park’s parking lots. The park began building a temporary makeshift rink each year from wooden frames and plastic liners, but it has started to degrade and is costly to repair. Park volunteers will help with the installation of the new self-contained rink purchased from EZ rinks in the same location as the temporary rink. The rink will be completed in time for next winter’s season, as the only formal skating rink in Hayden and the surrounding area.