DENVER – On Friday, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board announced it has awarded $5 million in grants to nine critical land conservation projects across the state, permanently conserving 31,816 acres of land.
GOCO’s open space grant program funds public and private land conservation projects that sustain local agriculture and economies, give outdoor recreationists a place to play (or simply enjoy the view), protect wildlife habitat, and safeguard the state’s water supply.
This round of GOCO-funded projects will leverage $8.4 million in matching funds, with landowners donating more than $6 million of their land’s value to ensure its protection from development.
Funded projects will protect approximately 140 miles of rivers and streams, provide public recreation access on four properties, and conserve nearly 8,000 acres of scenic views.
Funded projects are as follows:
This $638,000 GOCO grant will help Colorado Open Lands to permanently protect three properties with senior water rights on historic acequias in Costilla County. These ranches hold the oldest agricultural settlements and water rights in the state, dating back to 1844. Acequias are communal systems of irrigation canals and ditches, and are highly important to the San Luis Valley’s economy and culture.
A $200,000 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust will preserve Encantada Ranch, which stretches from bank to bank on the Rio Grande Island, an area where the river naturally splits. In addition to having senior water rights, the property provides habitat for elk, trout, and dozens of different bird species. The scenic property can be seen from county roads and by those traveling Highway 160, one of the most traveled roads in the San Luis Valley.
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 5,000 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.