Recently, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded three grants totaling $178,700 for forest health projects at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, trail construction at Horsetooth Reservoir, and invasive species removal and treatment along the Big Thompson River.
These grants are part of GOCO’s Conservation Service Corps program. GOCO partners with Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) to employ conservation service corps crews across the state on outdoor recreation and stewardship projects. CYCA represents a statewide coalition of eight accredited corps that train youth, young adults, and veterans to complete land and water conservation work and gain professional skills.
A $111,000 grant will help Larimer County partner with Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) to complete forest management and wildfire mitigation work at the 3,200-acre Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. The site contains heavy fire fuel loads and poses a high wildfire hazard. Corps members will reduce the density of hazardous fuels and restore forest structure and composition. This project will connect acreage restored over the past seven years and help complete the overall treatment effort. It will improve watershed health, protect nearby communities, and safeguard water resources while increasing stewardship capacity for the region.
With a $34,400 grant, the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources will partner with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and LCCC to construct a new multi-use trail at Horsetooth Reservoir. Over four weeks, crews will construct 0.7 miles of trail between Inlet Bay and South Bay. It will extend east from the Blue-Sky Trail, wrap around the southern peninsula of Inlet Bay, and end at the existing swim beach at South Bay. This project will create connection and access between two popular recreation areas that are currently only accessible to users by traveling along County Road 38E. It is slated to be completed in 2024.
Lastly, a $33,300 grant will help the City of Loveland partner with LCCC crews for three weeks to conduct Russian olive, Siberian elm, and tamarisk removal and treatment at the TCM Thompson River Natural Area along the Big Thompson River. Across approximately 15 acres, LCCC will remove invasive trees that are contributing to habitat degradation and reducing diversity along the riparian corridor. The project will improve overall ecosystem health by reducing competition for native species, decreasing the risk of wildfire and flood, and restoring wildlife habitat. Efforts will also enhance the visitor experience by clearing out dense, overgrown non-native vegetation and increasing species diversity of all types.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $57.7 million in projects in Larimer County and partnered to conserve 68,885 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fossil Creek Trail, Pinewood Reservoir, Lory State Park, River Bluffs, and Thumb Open Space, among other projects.
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 5,600 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.