Great Outdoors Colorado Board Approves Grants To Engage Youth In Restoration

Article appears on the Great Outdoors Colorado website. Published June 25, 2014.

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado Board has approved a series of grants designed to engage youth and volunteers in projects that will restore 12 miles of rivers and streams and 220 acres of habitat.

The projects will also benefit imperiled wildlife species including the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, roundtail chub, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, Gunnison sage grouse, and northern leopard frog.

The goal of the Riparian Restoration Initiative is to provide meaningful opportunities for youth and volunteers to improve and restore rivers, streams, and connected wetlands that occur on publicly and privately protected open space properties.

GOCO approved 10 grants, each worth $25,000. The program attracted 21 applications seeking $470,000 in funding.

Each of the ten projects incorporates a strong volunteer component to the restoration effort. Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Western Colorado Conservation Corps, Weld County Youth Conservation Corps, Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Colorado Mountain Club, and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado are each participating in at least one funded project. Multiple schools, FFA, 4-H groups, and local volunteer groups also will be engaged in the work.

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 by voters in 1992, GOCO has funded more than 3,500 projects in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. The grants are funded by GOCO’s share of Colorado Lottery revenues, which are divided between GOCO, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Conservation Trust Fund and school construction.


Grant details:


Peanut Lake

Grant: $25,000

The Crested Butte Land Trust will restore 1.5 miles of the Slate River adjacent to the 80-acre Peanut Lake property located three miles north of Crested Butte.  The work  will prevent the river, which has migrated west due to in-stream gravel mining and berming decades ago,  from entering the lake.  The river and the lake are presently separated by only a few feet of beaver dam. The 24-acre lake sits downstream of an abandoned mine and now contains deposited toxic coal and silver waste, which could end up flowing down the river if its banks are breached. The land trust’s volunteers, Crested Butte Community School and a locally based flyfishing camp will be involved in the work.

Upper Gunnison Basin and Wetland Habitat

Grant: $25,000

The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Gunnison Climate Working Group, will restore about four miles of the Upper Gunnison Basin, including several tributaries in state wildlife habitat areas and a privately conserved ranch. The work will raise the water table to reconnect the channel to the floodplain and increase wetland plant cover, which will benefit the Gunnison sage-grouse. Western Colorado Conservation Corps and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers will do the labor.



Estes Valley

Grant: $25,000

The Estes Valley Land Trust, in collaboration with the Town of Estes Park, will plant native, woody vegetation and seed with native grasses and wetlands species on about 135 acres of flood-damaged riparian lands along Fish Creek, Fall Creek, Black Canyon Creek, the East Fork of Fish Creek and the Big Gulch of the Little Thompson River.  The goal is to restore habitat for wildlife and reduce erosion and run-off of sediment. Land trust volunteers and students from Eagle Rock School will be engaged in the work.


Campbell Valley

Grant: $25,000

The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, will begin an effort to repair longstanding erosion damage and restore the Campbell Valley watershed on the conserved Roberts Ranch.  The work will include re-grading of Leaky Creek, stabilizing 2,000 feet of bank on Campbell Creek tributaries and planting native vegetation. The goal is to restore vegetation for wildlife and provide habitat for the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.



Jim Creek

Grant: $25,000

Conejos County, in partnership with Trout Unlimited, will create a riparian buffer area on property along Jim Creek by building wildlife-friendly cattle fencing on 2.5 miles of each side of the creek. Long-term grazing caused erosion and sedimentation problems, damaging fish habitat and water quality. The creek currently supports native Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Colorado Mountain Club, Trout Unlimited and Adams State University students will be involved in the work,



Navajo River

Grant: $25,000

Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, with assistance from the San Juan Conservation District and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, will restore a two-mile section of the Navajo River that runs through two contiguous conserved properties. It is part of a larger project to restore nearly 7 miles of river.  The work will include deepening the channel to benefit fish habitat, planting trees like willows and cottonwoods, and restoring or connecting to shallow wetlands. Species benefitted include the Colorado roundtail chub and the northern leopard frog, two species that both have “special concern” status in the state. Chama Peak Land Alliance will train volunteers and 4-H club members to plant trees.



South Republican River
Grant: $25,000

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will remove invasive Russian olive and tamarisk trees and restore native species along three forks of the Republican River. The grant will help secure a federal grant to remove invasive trees from 60 acres near the former Bonny Reservoir site. Future Farmers of American will re-seed treated areas and complete additional restoration work to improve wildlife habitat.



East Plum Creek

Grant: $25,000

Douglas County, in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation, will remove riprap and re-contour the east side of East Plum Creek on the Iron Horse Open Space. This work will undo damaged caused by flood and rechanneling due to Interstate 25 construction. The goal is to slow the water current and allow it to meander, thus creating new wetland and floodplain areas for wildlife. Volunteer gardeners will plant wetland vegetation and tree seedlings.



Eagle’s Nest

Grant: $25,000

Ducks Unlimited and the Weld County Youth Conservation Corps will clear woody vegetation from a sandbar in the South Platte River. Afterward, the sandbar will be re-contoured to benefit the waterfowl and shorebirds population which has declined in recent decades due to loss of habitat.  Water level controls will be repaired or replaced.



DPG-Prewitt Wetland

Grant: $25,000

Colorado Open lands and Ducks Unlimited will install three water level controls on the east side of Prewitt Reservoir along the South Platte River on the Logan-Washington county line.  The Weld County Youth Conservation Corps will remove invasive plants. This will help re-establish native wetland plants to benefit waterfowl habitat and expand roosting sites.