GOCO awards $150K in grants for eight new Colorado Parks and Wildlife projects
DENVER–Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded $150,000 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.
In its seventh cycle this year, the program has elevated unique opportunities to improve fishing and state park access, provide a public education opportunity for minimizing human impacts on wintering wildlife, purchase bat monitors for public use, and add Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant improvements to Vallie Bridge within the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area–just to name a few of the project outcomes.
Weld County Housing Navigation Center Guest Fishing Access, $23,000 GOCO grant to CPW
This GOCO grant to CPW, in partnership with United Way of Weld County and its Housing Navigation Center, will help provide fishing access to individuals either experiencing or at-risk for homelessness. The Housing Navigation Center helps its guests get back into and keep housing. Funding from this unique effort will cover the cost of annual fishing licenses and fishing gear as well as programming through CPW’s Angler Education Program for 300 Weld County residents over the next three years.
Eldorado Canyon State Park Timed Entry Accessibility and the Latinx Community, $32,500 GOCO grant to CPW
This GOCO grant will support Eldorado Canyon State Park staff in examining whether a timed-entry vehicle registration system at the park is a barrier to access for the Latinx community and determine what education marketing and outreach strategies might improve access. Park staff will hire a marketing consultant to conduct a product testing listening session with Latinx community stakeholders and develop inclusive branding for timed-entry. During an initial timed-entry pilot period, staff observed a noticeable reduction in use of the picnic area, which was identified in the park’s visitor use management plan as a key recreation area for BIPOC communities.
Wintering Wildlife Conservation Initiative, $32,500 GOCO grant to CPW
This grant is for the Wintering Wildlife Conservation Initiative, a statewide, collaborative project intended to design and test educational materials to educate winter recreationists about the biological challenges wildlife face and what they can do to protect and minimize their impacts on wildlife in winter. Funding for this project will support research, messaging design, partner engagement, website creation, and the development and implementation of a multi-language outreach plan to engage outdoor recreation stakeholders and partners across Colorado.
Ridgway State Park / SW Region Camping Gear, $10,500 GOCO grant to CPW
With this GOCO grant, Ridgway State Park staff will purchase and loan out camping gear so that more kids, families, underserved populations, and people with disabilities can enjoy the park and its outdoor spaces and amenities. New gear will include tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, coolers, camp stoves, lanterns, camp tables, camp chairs, flashlights, and storage containers. Two larger tents, two camp cots, and headlamps will be purchased for individuals with disabilities. Funding covers enough camping equipment for approximately 24 people. The new program will help established park partners host overnight camping trips and provide gear needed for their success.
AHRA - Vallie Bridge - ADA Improvements Project, $22,500 GOCO grant to CPW
CPW will leverage this GOCO grant to add Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant improvements to Vallie Bridge within the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA). The project will bring current facilities into compliance with ADA standards and add a fishing pier to improve access to recreation programming available at the site. It builds on work initiated with DIF funding in 2022 when a consulting firm evaluated six recreation sites along the 152-mile Arkansas River corridor for accessibility. The consultants identified a list of physical barriers and assessed the feasibility of adding ADA-compliant elements like boat ramps, fishing areas, and wildlife viewing and birding areas. The AHRA is one of the nation's most popular whitewater rafting and kayaking locations and is home to a world-class fishery.
Educational Resources for Bat and Other Interpretation Programs, $8,500 GOCO grant to CPW
The GOCO grant will help state parks purchase technology supporting new self-guided and bat-focused programs, including existing programs like Agents of Discovery, an augmented reality platform that delivers educational content customized by CPW. Funding will support the purchase of 40 tablets and 20 Echo Meter Touch bat monitors and protective casings available for public use at 20 parks throughout the state. The bat monitors are portable detectors that attach to a smartphone or tablet, allowing users to hear, identify, and record nearby bats. By providing tablets for check-out, visitors can access interactive educational content without a smartphone or Wi-Fi connection, providing yet another way to engage with nature at Colorado’s state parks.
State Forest State Park Dark Skies Project and Education Program, $9,000 GOCO grant to CPW
This GOCO grant will help State Forest State Park achieve International Dark Sky Place certification and purchase equipment to help visitors engage with the beauty of the day and night sky. Dark Sky certification was created in 2001 by the International Dark-Sky Association to encourage parks and communities around the world to preserve and protect dark skies through responsible lighting policies and education. Designation requires meeting specific standards and takes, on average, 1-3 years. The park, which is the largest in the state park system at 70,838 acres, has completed approximately 80% of the required work to date.
Thermal Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Area 6, $11,500 GOCO grant to CPW
With this grant, CPW will deploy a drone to better manage wildlife and protect natural resources in the northwest region of the state. Staff will use the drone’s standard and zooming thermal cameras to conduct projects at State Wildlife Areas, conduct flights for wildlife management purposes and natural resource protection, and assist officers with law enforcement cases and local search and rescue. CPW’s use of dynamic tools and technology allows staff to perform the functions of their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
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 5,600 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.