Diane Metzger, GOCO Communications Manager

DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded $6,806,774 in grants through four base programs: Community Impact, Land Acquisition, Planning and Capacity, and Stewardship Impact. This round of grants will help partners complete 15 community-driven outdoors projects supporting people, places, and wildlife across the state.

The 15 base program grants will be put to work to:

  • Conserve over 1,800 acres of land containing critical natural resources, wildlife, and more.
  • Build or revitalize six community-driven parks and recreation access points.
  • Hire staff, train employees and volunteers, and/or conduct long-term organizational planning.
  • Add 140 acres to the City of Loveland’s 785-acre Prairie Ridge Natural Area.
  • Support collaborative stewardship efforts in Eastern Colorado and on the Western Slope.

Community Impact
GOCO’s Community Impact program develops and revitalizes parks, trails, school yards, fairgrounds, environmental education facilities, and other outdoor projects that enhance a community’s quality of life and access to the outdoors.

Blue River Habitat Restoration Project, $300,000 to the Town of Silverthorne/Blue River Watershed Group

The grant will help the Town of Silverthorne, in partnership with Blue River Watershed Group (BRWG,) address the declining health of the Blue River and ensure more equitable recreation access. BRWG will hire a consultant to conduct community engagement that will inform recreation priorities. Funding will also support water quality monitoring by River Watch, a program that engages youth in environmental science and stewardship. The first phase of the project will produce engineering and restoration designs for three miles of river through the center of Silverthorne, private lands, and a popular U.S. Forest Service campground below the town. Future plans may include designated access points to help protect other areas of the river, wheelchair-accessible entry points, bilingual educational signage, a whitewater park, and pocket parks above the river to promote community gathering and access. Plans are expected to be completed by the summer of 2026 with fundraising and construction following soon after.

Cañon City Public Space River Access, $544,150 to the City of Cañon City

Funding will help the City of Cañon City acquire the 22-acre Black Hills Energy property, the former site of the W.N. Clark Power Plant, and repurpose it for public recreation and river access. Following acquisition, partners will prepare the land for accessible recreation, riverfront activities, and outdoor education, strengthening the connection between the river and the city’s downtown. The city will conduct a thorough planning phase that will engage residents and stakeholders in the design process. Partners plan to deliver a plan that will preserve the property’s natural beauty and biodiversity, and create spaces that support a variety of recreation, education, and cultural activities. The city anticipates the purchase to be completed in 2024 and the planning phase to begin shortly after.

Center Community Park Revitalization, $536,465 to the Town of Center

The Town of Center, in partnership with the Center School District and community groups, seeks to reinvigorate the 21-acre Center Community Park. The town will install modern playground equipment, upgrade multi-sport courts, repair the athletic track, plant new trees and grass, build a shade and picnic area, and install lighting. The project aims to provide a much-needed recreation opportunity for a historically underserved community, helping to promote health activities, offer space to conduct programs, and drive increased visitation that will benefit the community economically. The park will serve Center and neighboring La Garita, Hooper, and Sargent, which lack equivalent outdoor recreation spaces. Updates are expected to be completed in fall 2024.

Florissant Community Park Improvements Project, $371,818 to Teller County

The grant will help Teller County improve the 10-acre Florissant Community Park, the only community park serving residents of western Teller County and eastern Park County. Through this project, the county aims to improve accessibility, increase usability, and provide additional amenities for both residents and visitors. Upgrades will include a new playground, a larger pavilion, accessible restroom facilities, a refurbished basketball court, and resurfaced parking lot. The park will support a variety of recreational activities; promote community connection; and host summer movie nights, concerts, and large family gatherings. Construction has already begun with re-opening expected in fall 2024.

Northwest Colorado Skate Dream, a Wheel Park for Everyone, $500,000 to the Town of Hayden

Funding will help the Town of Hayden build an inclusive skate and wheel park to enhance its community’s vitality and wellness. The park will serve a diverse population of youth and riders across the town and Northwestern Colorado. It will be the first park amenity on the west end of Hayden, which includes a mobile home neighborhood and a new workforce housing development. Park features will support everything from skateboards to wheelchairs, and will include a walking path, small natural playground, bathrooms, and seating areas to support community gatherings. The design was informed by a robust, multi-year planning process supported by the Colorado Health Foundation and led by a grassroots coalition of community members seeking to forge cross-cultural and multi-generational connections across the region. Construction will begin in 2024 and will be completed within two years.

Skyline Park: Outdoors in the Heart of Denver, $1,000,000 to the City and County of Denver

The grant will help Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) upgrade Skyline Park to create more year-round outdoor recreation and community connection opportunities in the city’s urban core. Currently, Skyline Park is the only significant park space in the central business district; however, its current piecemeal design limits space for programs and activities. The new design aims to address the park’s challenges and breathe new life into the area by offering residents, workers, students, and visitors an accessible place to enjoy the outdoors and connect with one another. The first phase of the project will renovate Block 2, which overlaps with 16th Street Mall, the historic Daniels & Fisher Tower to the west, and Lawrence Halprin sculpture to the east. Updates will include a flexible plaza space with a seasonal interactive water feature and ice rink, options for food and beverage, shade and seating, a Colorado garden, green infrastructure, and an improved bike lane.

Land Acquisition
GOCO’s Land Acquisition program supports urban and rural landscape, waterway, and habitat protection priorities and improves access to the outdoors.

Prairie Ridge Addition Land Acquisition, $1,100,000 to the City of Loveland

The City of Loveland, in partnership with the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County, will permanently protect a 140-acre public open space and hiking trail in Northwest Loveland by fee-title purchase with a conservation easement to be held by Larimer County. The land will be added to the existing 785-acre Prairie Ridge Natural Area and represents the final piece in a 25-year effort creating a 3,500-acre separator between Loveland and Fort Collins. This new addition fills a significant gap in a regional non-motorized trail corridor, provides a buffer from development, contributes significant agricultural and ecological values, and opens up opportunities for future shortgrass prairie and wetland restoration.

Wolf Mountain VII Conservation Easement, $569,000 to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and others, will permanently protect 1,643 acres of Wolf Mountain Ranch with a conservation easement. Located near Steamboat Springs, Wolf Mountain Ranch is highly desirable for development, which would have a significant impact on wildlife. It contains habitat for a variety of Colorado species of greatest conservation need, including the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse and greater sandhill crane. It also provides winter and summer range and undisturbed migration corridors for elk and mule deer, contains over 320 acres and 4.75 miles of high-priority stream habitat, sits near conserved lands stewarded by RMEF and The Nature Conservancy, and connects to over 1.1 million acres of National Forest land. In addition, it’s an active cattle operation and provides unique public hunting opportunities through CPW’s Ranching for Wildlife Program. The conservation easement is expected to close in 2025.

Planning and Capacity
GOCO’s Planning and Capacity program invests in projects that address opportunities, explore issues, engage communities, and examine trends in the outdoors.

Building Conservation Capacity in the San Luis Valley - $294,375 to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

Funding will help Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) hire two new staff positions and enhance staff training to promote conservation and restoration in the Valley. With this added capacity, RiGHT expects to create cost and administrative efficiencies, increase the donor pool and donations by as much as 30%, and advance 2-3 new conservation easements per year, while better serving and representing the region. A conservation connector position will help RiGHT's three program directors conserve new properties, steward lands with conservation easements, and restore ecosystem function on public and private lands. An administrator/events and outreach coordinator will engage the community through events and targeted fundraising, and support the executive director in administrative and operational tasks. RiGHT hopes to recruit a local candidate for one or both positions. Staff training will include Esri geographic information system (GIS) mapping and drone operations.

Finding Their Forever Homes: Finally Tackling the Orphan Easement Issue, $937,845 to Keep It Colorado

Keep It Colorado and its partners will address "orphaned conservation easements" ("orphans") in Colorado, which are perpetual conservation easements held by entities that are no longer functioning. There are more than 250 of these easements in the state. These easements must be monitored and stewarded to ensure the long-term stability of land protection efforts. Keep It Colorado will partner with respected conservation attorneys and conservation organizations, including Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Aspen Valley Land Trust, and Colorado West Land Trust, which have formed a steering committee to address orphans with the ultimate goal of placing them under the stewardship of land trusts in Colorado.

Greater Elizabeth Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan, $125,000 grant to the Town of Elizabeth

The Town of Elizabeth, in partnership with the Elizabeth Park and Recreation District and Elizabeth School District, is developing the Greater Elizabeth Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan. Elizabeth has seen significant population growth in recent years, putting mounting pressure on the area’s outdoor recreation facilities and resources. Through this plan, the town hopes to address urgent open space needs and prepare for the future. The plan will address growth, safety, and access to outdoor amenities. Partners seek to conserve open space and connect to broader conservation efforts, while reducing barriers to outdoor recreation. Partners will conduct extensive community engagement to ensure inclusive participation and foster a sense of ownership among residents.

Poncha Springs Recreation Master Plan Update, $90,000 to the Town of Poncha Springs

The grant will help the Town of Poncha Springs develop a new parks and recreation master plan that will engage various Chaffee County stakeholders to address rising demand for recreation amenities. Since its local recreation plan was last updated in 2011, the town’s population has grown by over 50 percent to nearly 1,600 residents. A recently acquired 30-acre parcel presents an opportunity for the town and local stakeholders to identify recreational amenities that enhance community vitality and equitable outdoor access for residents and visitors. The town will engage various stakeholders in the process, including nearby municipalities like Buena Vista and Salida, the coalition Envision Chaffee County, youth and adult sport leagues, neighborhood associations, and the public. The process will begin in the summer of 2024 and will be completed by mid-2025.

Stewardship Impact
GOCO’s Stewardship Impact program supports collaborative stewardship work that demonstrates meaningful improvements to ecological and recreational amenities.

Advancing Connections in the Purgatoire Watershed, $282,670 to the City of Trinidad/Purgatoire Watershed

The grant will help the Purgatoire Watershed Partnership, in partnership with the City of Trinidad and Mile High Youth Corps, foster community engagement and enhance ecological outcomes through educational programs and on-the-ground activities over the next two years. Mile High Youth Corps will work to build a presence and trust in the community by engaging local youth in stewardship work in the region. Corps members will restore habitat, manage invasive species, and gain hands-on employment experience. This effort will address both immediate ecological needs and build long-term capacity for conservation work in the region. The Purgatoire Watershed Partnership will also provide educational programs to complement on-the ground activities and enhance community understanding and appreciation of local natural resources.

Multi-jurisdictional Stewardship in the Spanish Peaks Region, $100,468 to The Town of La Veta/La Veta Trails

The Town of La Veta, La Veta Trails, the San Carlos Ranger District, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and other organizations will conduct 21 stewardship projects over two years across Huerfano and Las Animas Counties. The projects will improve forest health, mitigate wildfire risk, protect wildlife habitat, address erosion of soil and native vegetation, remove invasive weeds, and raise awareness of recreational impact on alpine, prairie and riparian ecosystems, addressing immediate needs and supporting long-term stewardship of natural resources. In addition, funding will support a new full-time stewardship coordinator at La Veta Trails who will expand the region’s capacity to sustain critical conservation efforts.

West Slope Outdoor Volunteers: A Regional Stewardship Collaborative, $54,983 to Colorado Canyons Association

Funding will help the Colorado Canyons Association-led coalition West Slope Outdoor Volunteers (WSOV) promote stewardship in Mesa, Delta, and Montrose Counties. WSOV is helping address the growing need for restoration and stewardship in the region. Initially supported by a grant from the Western Colorado Community Foundation, the collaborative aims to streamline and enhance volunteer efforts. WSOV will leverage relationships with local governments, federal agencies, and communities to promote stewardship and reduce mobilization costs with collaborative efforts. By pooling resources and expertise, WSOV will build a skilled volunteer base, promote collaborative restoration projects, and increase stewardship of natural resources.

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 5,700 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit for more information.