CONTACTS:  Chris Leding, 303-226-4530; 303-981-7900 (cell)
    Megan Castle, Governor’s Office, 303-319-8513


 DENVER - Governor Bill Ritter today announced the award of $24 million in Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grants that will help create new trails and local outdoor recreation areas, protect more than 73,000 acres of land, and launch construction of a new state park just 50 miles from Denver. Several mayors, land trust representatives, members of the GOCO and State Parks Boards, and the Lottery staff joined Ritter today at Confluence Park in downtown Denver. Twenty-three projects in 16 counties received grants.

“Colorado’s great outdoors are the reason so many of us choose to live and raise our families here,” said Gov. Ritter. “Investing in these projects will ensure that generations of Coloradans will have more chances to connect to our great outdoors. These grants will protect open lands and provide new outdoor recreation opportunities that boost tourism and economic development efforts.”

The GOCO Board offered an additional grant opportunity this year beyond the annual programs it offers after learning from local governments that they could use more GOCO funds to take advantage of lower construction and material costs for trails and outdoor recreation projects. Similarly, the land trust community indicated that changes in the real estate market had led to increased interest among landowners in conserving properties. State Parks had also completed an extensive planning process for its newest park—Staunton State Park in Jefferson and Park counties near Pine?and was ready to proceed with development.

Among the grants, the City & County of Denver was awarded $1 million to help purchase the 2.08-acre River North Property on the South Platte River, which will be combined with two adjacent parcels to create a new eight-acre park and to provide better connectivity to the South Platte Greenway. 

“The network of trails and parks that have been assembled along the Platte shows the power of urban rivers to serve as a gathering place for people and to draw residents and businesses,” Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said. “The GOCO Board has been a tremendous ally for all who enjoy the waters of the South Platte River as it runs through the metro area.”

Another grant will help preserve more than 66,000-acres of short-grass prairie in Cheyenne, Lincoln and Elbert counties. Sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, the Winship Six Project will use a mix of fee acquisition and conservation easements to protect six properties that cover more than 100 square miles of short-grass prairie that is an important breeding and feeding stop for migratory and declining grassland birds. The project will protect a variety of habitats and riparian corridors along 15 miles of Rush Creek and Big Sandy Creek while helping to support five ranching families whose roots stretch back multiple generations.  

“The Great Outdoors Colorado Board wants to thank all of the applicants who submitted projects for these grants,” said GOCO Board Chairman Norma Anderson. “Our applicants continue to bring forward projects that assemble strong partnerships and matching resources, thereby allowing GOCO to continue to meet its wildlife, park, river, trail and open space mission.” 

Great Outdoors Colorado is the result of a citizens’ initiative passed by voters in 1992. Entities eligible to receive GOCO funds are local governments, land trusts, Colorado State parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. To date, GOCO has provided funding for projects in all of Colorado’s 64 counties.

Additional information on project awards:

The 15 Local Government Park & Outdoor Recreation grants were chosen from 33 applications that were submitted requesting $19.6 million. The $9 million awarded goes to a diverse range of projects: 

• New parkland. 161 acres is being purchased that will be used for new parks in Arapahoe County, Fairplay and Denver.
• Trails. The focus of the trail projects receiving grants is to fill in missing links to existing trails and outdoor recreation areas, and to address safety issues. The trails projects are in Boulder County, Fort Collins, Parker, Centennial and Estes Park. The City of Centennial’s project will construct one of the last remaining gaps in the 40-mile long Cherry Creek Regional Trail.

• A skate park will proceed in Lafayette and Berthoud will develop Pioneer Park. 

• New ball fields will be developed in Douglas County.

• Swimming pool projects will move ahead in Brighton, Calhan and Cortez. The City of Brighton’s project will replace a 58-year-old pool.

The Open Space Grants awarded were chosen from 10 applications requesting $14.9 million. The projects were awarded $10.4 million and will help preserve almost 79,000 acres of land: 

• Conservation easements will protect agricultural properties with wildlife and scenic view corridors in Dolores, Garfield, Mineral and Larimer counties. 

• Fee title acquisitions will be made in Gunnison County and will provide additional trail access. In La Plata County, the City of Durango will purchase 366 acres from the Fort Lewis College Board in the Horse Gulch area where the City is consolidating a number of parcels that will be managed as public open space with trails.

Staunton State Park Development will receive $5 million from GOCO to help pay for the bulk of the first phase of construction and will contribute a portion of the operating costs for the park. This is allowed under the GOCO Constitutional Amendment because GOCO helped purchase a portion of the land for the park.

Staunton State Park is a 3,700-acre mosaic of rugged rock outcroppings, lush grassy meadows, rolling forested hillsides, varied wildlife and a dramatic waterfall. The initial 1,680 acres for the park were donated to the State of Colorado in 1986, though access issues prevented State Parks from developing it. In 1998, GOCO provided State Parks with funds to purchase an additional 1,902 acres of land to help resolve access issues and allow park planning to move ahead. This latest funding support from GOCO will allow Colorado State Parks to move toward opening the Park with modest facilities for day-use visitors without using tax dollars. State Parks expects to open Staunton to the public in 2012.


April 1, 2010
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