Larimer County projects net $69K in GOCO grants

Larimer County projects net $69K in GOCO grants to reduce wildfire hazards, remove invasive species

By Rosemary Dempsey, 303-226-4530, rdempsey@goco.org 

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the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded two grants totaling $69,200 to fund Youth Corps projects in Larimer County. Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) received a $51,200 grant to hire Larimer County Conservation Crew (LCCC) for six weeks of wildfire mitigation work at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, and the City of Loveland received an $18,000 grant to partner with LCCC to treat and remove invasive species along the East Big Thompson River.

GOCO awards Youth Corps funding through the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA). CYCA represents a statewide coalition of eight accredited corps that train youth, young adults, and veterans to work on land and water conservation projects. Corps members earn a stipend for their service and an AmeriCorps education award to use toward college or reducing existing student loans. 

“CYCA’s partnership with GOCO not only addresses the critical land and water needs of local communities across the state, it will transform the lives of hundreds of conservation corps members,” CYCA Executive Director Scott Segerstrom said. “This investment by GOCO will help develop young leaders who become first-generation college students, launch natural resource careers, and most importantly, believe in the power of service to change the world.”

With its $51,200 GOCO grant, CSFS will partner with the Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative (ECFHI) and LCCC to reduce fire hazards through thinning, pile burning, and prescribed fire treatments at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. CSFS aims to outline a plan to help build capacity within neighboring communities to assist with future forest health maintenance and wildfire mitigation efforts. 

Over the six-week project, corps members will have the opportunity to learn from field experts about wildlife ecology and forest restoration.

The City of Loveland will use its $18,000 grant to treat and remove invasive species such as Russian olive, Siberian elm, and tamarisk in the 140-acre East Big Thompson River corridor. LCCC chainsaw crews will cut invasive trees to ground level and treat the area with herbicide to prevent re-growth. The work will improve wetland habitat along the river corridor and provide optimal conditions for native trees, shrubs, and underlying vegetation to recover. 

This diversification of plant species will improve the overall ecosystem health and restore the natural habitat for the many wildlife species in the area. River corridor restoration will also improve river flow and mitigate flood hazards on surrounding land. 

To date, GOCO has invested more than $56 million in projects in Larimer County and conserved more than 60,000 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported the Poudre River Regional Trail, Fossil Creek Trail, Boyd Lake State Park, Centennial Park Baseball Field, and the City of Fort Collins’ Children’s Garden.

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 5,200 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.