DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded $140,000 in funding to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) staff for new and innovative projects.
The grants are part of GOCO’s Director’s Innovation Fund (DIF), a partnership between GOCO and CPW to create a funding source for one-time, innovative projects that would not otherwise receive funding from either organization. CPW receives half of GOCO’s funding each year for statewide programs, wildlife, and state parks through an annual investment proposal, however many innovative, small-dollar projects fall outside current funding parameters.
Now in its second year, DIF funded nine projects in all corners of the state. These projects will pilot innovative wildlife management methods, provide visitors with better experiences at state parks, create funding efficiencies, and establish the first-ever state park certified by the International Dark Sky Association for stargazing opportunities.
Grant details are as follows:
Area 14 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), $18,054.37 grant to CPW’s Southeast Region
In southern Colorado, Area 14 will invest GOCO funding to purchase and install thermal and zooming cameras on an unmanned aerial system (UAS), or drone. The new camera system will be used for wildlife surveys and search and rescue, among other wildlife and recreation management tasks. The project is part of a test program to evaluate the effectiveness of UAS in assisting Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) with its ever-growing responsibilities.
CEW Paint, $9,995.58 grant to CPW’s Area 5
In Area 5, encompassing the Denver metro area, wildlife officers will pilot non-lethal hazing tactics for nuisance wildlife in an effort to reduce conflicts with people. CPW is eager to evaluate new, non-lethal methods that could be more effective in hazing wildlife and preventing them from becoming habituated nuisances to neighborhoods and people. Conductive Electronic Weapons (CEWs), or TASERs, have shown great promise in this area, and GOCO funding will help wildlife managers evaluate how effective they are by identifying and tracking nuisance animals.
Creede Youth Fishing Pond, $18,683 grant to Creede State Wildlife Area
Creede State Wildlife Area will invest GOCO funding to convert overgrown ponds to a youth-only fishing pond. The nearest public fishing lake is more than 20 miles away, and the newly funded project at the state wildlife area will build a kid-friendly pond within walking distance of the local public school. GOCO funding will help CPW rehabilitate a well that has not been used for at least 30 years. The agency owns water rights to the well, but it needs a new pump and water supply line to become operational again.
Durango MAPS, $20,000 grant to CPW Southwest Field Operations
GOCO funding will ensure that the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program will continue for the full five years of the study of bird populations at Oxbow Park and Preserve in Durango. Bird counts have been occuring at Oxbow since 2014, and GOCO funding will make sure it continues through 2020, meeting the full five years MAPS requires to have statistically reliable information. Operating the MAPS station after construction has begun on a boat ramp and extending the Animas River Trail will also help gauge the impact on birds, which will be used to guide further management and construction decisions.
Jackson Lake State Park - Dark Skies, $20,000 grant to Jackson Lake State Park
With the help of GOCO funding, Jackson Lake will become the first state park in Colorado, and the only area east of I-25, to become certified by the International Dark Sky Association. Becoming Dark Sky-certified will benefit Jackson Lake State Park’s visitors, nearby residents, and the wildlife that calls the area home. The project will reduce utility costs, provide new outdoor recreation opportunities to better serve the public, and improve wildlife’s quality of life by reducing artificial light.
Meeker Fishing Pond - Circle Park, $20,000 grant to CPW Area 6
In northwestern Colorado, Area 6 will invest GOCO funds to transform a portion of the Meeker Power Ditch into a new fishing pond at Circle Park. The project will open up one acre of land and provide a consistent water supply to Circle Park Pond for public fishing access. Currently, the pond suffers from irregular waterflow, making for low-quality fish habitat. It also has limited public access around it, making it difficult for the public to fish and for CPW to host youth fishing clinics in the summer.
Ouray Bear Hazing Study, $1,639.60 grant to CPW Southwest Field Operations
CPW Field Operations will pilot non-lethal bear deterrence project in Ouray County with the help of GOCO funding. CPW is undertaking new research in hopes of reducing the need to take lethal action against bears that could turn into public safety risks. The research project will help CPW determine the most effective way to respond to public complaints about nuisance bears, testing new Conductive Electronic Weapons (CEWs), or TASERs, against current techniques. Wildlife officers will ultimately be able to tell whether hazing keeps bears from repeating nuisance behavior, and which kind of hazing is most effective.
Steamboat Lake State Park Groomer, $13,400 grant to Steamboat Lake State Park
Steamboat will invest GOCO funds in purchasing a new groomer to use on multi-use trails during the winter, making more trails more consistently accessible to the public for Nordic skiing. The state park currently shares grooming equipment with the Steamboat Lake Snow Club. Often trails go ungroomed because there is not enough snow for the heavy Pisten Bulley, or it is tied up grooming motorized trails with the snow club. With the help of GOCO funding, the state park will purchase smaller, less expensive equipment to make trail grooming more efficient.
Sylvan Lake Schoolhouse, $20,000 grant to Sylvan Lake State Park
Sylvan Lake is partnering with the Eagle County Historical Society and HistoriCorps to stabilize the Upper Brush Creek Schoolhouse, which is on the verge of collapse. The schoolhouse was originally built in the early 1900s and is one of the only remaining one-room schoolhouses in Colorado on public land. A grassroots, community-driven effort succeeded in getting the schoolhouse listed with the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, but the structure is in dire need of repairs before it can no longer be part of educational programs and guided hikes.
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 to date has invested more than $500 million in Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.