DENVER—Today, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded $498,550 in planning grants to eight projects across the state. The projects were chosen from a pool of 20 projects in a grant round with requested funds doubling what was available. 

Projects will help communities solicit public input to figure out how to build and improve parks and trails and expand recreation access, all with a focus on community engagement and equity. More than half of the projects are in rural communities, and funding will support efforts to diversify local outdoor recreation opportunities in these areas. 

GOCO’s planning grants help local governments gather public input, evaluate conditions, and develop strategic plans to meet the outdoor recreation needs of Colorado communities. 

Grant details are as follows: 

Central City Trails Master Plan, $47,800 grant to Central City

Central City will create a master plan for a trail network as well as other recreation amenities. Abundant outdoor recreation opportunities currently exist on public lands near Central City, but within the city limits, residents currently hike and bike in informal, undesignated areas, posing a safety risk. Nearby Black Hawk has a trail network around Maryland Mountain, and the established Peaks to Plains Trail is close by. Linking Central City to these networks would greatly enhance recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Goals of the project will be to connect to those surrounding trail networks outside the city limits and to develop a plan for a trail network linking Central City’s downtown area to Chase River Gulch. 

City of La Junta Parks, Recreation, and Trails Master Plan, $75,000 grant to City of La Junta

La Junta will create a long-term master plan for developing and managing its recreational programs, services, and facilities. Recent recreation projects have shown a need for a longer-term, more comprehensive plan to address access and equity, to maintain existing facilities, and to plan for future needs. Currently, a new $1.2 million fitness facility is being constructed, and the City boasts several playgrounds, parks, a municipal pool and golf course, several trails, and other amenities to maintain over time. 

Fisher’s Peak Ranch Master Plan, $75,000 grant to City of Trinidad

Trinidad will develop a master plan for future recreation and conservation efforts on the property that is home to Fisher’s Peak. Earlier this year, GOCO contributed $7.5 million to the purchase of the ranch by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) after it was held in private ownership for more than 100 years. While there will be no public access on the property until 2020 or 2021, a plan to manage the land and its future visitors is critical to the project’s long-term success. The 19,200-acre property is adjacent to two State Wildlife Areas managed by Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) as well as Sugarite Canyon State Park in New Mexico. New public access will connect visitors to more than 55 square miles of connected public land. 

Fountain Creek Corridor Greenway Master Plan, $75,000 grant to Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District

Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District will create a master plan proposing a 46-mile greenway trail connecting Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The trail would be part of the larger Colorado Front Range Trail (CFRT). The CFRT, originally proposed in 2003, is a vision to construct a continuous trail network along Front Range communities, ultimately running through Colorado from the Wyoming to New Mexico borders. The master plan will establish a detailed alignment for the trail, which would begin at the southern city line in Colorado Springs and end at the Arkansas River in Pueblo. 

Grand Junction Parks and Open Space Master Plan, $56,250 grant to City of Grand Junction

The City will develop a master plan for the future of parks, recreation, and open space in Grand Junction. Its current parks master plan was last updated in 2001, and much of the work outlined in that plan has since been completed. Grand Junction parks are highly utilized by the city’s residents and by those in surrounding communities. Since the 2001 plan, the city’s population has increased by nine percent, and new housing developments suggest growth will continue. In addition, rented hours of park amenities has increased by 112 percent since 2014.

Ignite Interest in Natural Resources Careers, $75,000 grant to Town of Oak Creek, in partnership with Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) and Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE)

CAEE and CYCA will create a plan to make a Careers in Natural Resources guide for high school students, serving as a complement to “A How-To Guide for Pursuing a Career in Natural Resources,” which was first published by the partnering organizations in 2014 and is designed for older emerging professionals. With Colorado’s growing and diverse population, the need for the next generation of outdoor professionals is clear. In addition, job prospects for environmental careers are strong, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting faster-than-average employment growth for several outdoor- and natural resource-focused fields. 

Kendall Mountain Recreation Area Master Plan, $37,500 grant to Town of Silverton

Silverton will develop a master recreation plan for Kendall Mountain Recreation Area (KMRA), a town-owned park and ski hill. KMRA provides some of the most affordable skiing in Colorado, and all Silverton students receive free season passes. By expanding its ski terrain, Silverton could attract more ski tourism and offer new, year-round recreation opportunities, drawing in more summer visitors. 

Parks, Recreation, and Trails Master Plan, $57,000 grant to Town of Paonia

Paonia will create a long-term master plan for improving the Town’s parks, enhancing recreation, and filling trail gaps. Paonia’s last master plan was completed in 1996, and since then, new recreation opportunities have been identified. Paonia offers several parks and recreation facilities but aims to accommodate a growing number of people relocating to the area. As part of the planning process, the Town will begin to envision and plan for potential future amenities, including bike trails or a recreation center.