GOCO board approves $387,900 in Mesa County grants

The Business Times, December 13, 2022 – Nearly $400,000 in grants will help fund natural resource stewardship, conservation and restoration efforts in Mesa County.

The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board of Directors awarded three grants worth a total of $387,900 for the projects.

A $300,000 grant to Mesa County Public Health, part of the GOCO stewardship impact program, will support a four-member Grand Valley Stewardship Crew for three years.

The crew will in turn support partner projects, such as the Colorado West Land Trust  Monument Connector Trail restoration, riparian habitat improvements with Rivers Edge West and other government and nonprofit efforts. The crew also will help land management agencies maintain campgrounds and facilities during shoulder seasons.

“We are grateful for the GOCO funding that directly supports this crew and hope the next iteration of their work will more broadly support our community partners in a variety of natural resource management realms,” said Ross Mittelman, Mesa County Public Health trails coordinator.

GVSC crews are trained to work with chainsaws, trail building tools and herbicides on stewardship projects in Mesa County. Since its inception in 2020, crews have worked about 10 months a year. In 2021, the crew maintained 273 drainages, installed 310 drainages and 82 water bars, closed 5,074 feet of social trails and revegetated 4,304 square feet of land.

A $50,000 grant to the Colorado West Land Trust, part of the Keep It Colorado program, will help fund the cost of establishing a conservation easement for 1,754 acres of the Flying Triangle Ranch in the Plateau Valley area of Mesa County.

Surrounded by U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands and other ranches, Flying Triangle Ranch property includes irrigated acreage for ranching operations as well as winter range for big game animals.

A $37,900 grant, part of the conservation service corps program, will support the Colorado West Land Trust in its Pinyon Mesa headwaters restoration project.

A Western Colorado Conservation Corps crew will work on watershed restoration and habitat improvement projects on conserved properties and BLM lands. Crews will remove 1.7 miles of fence, apply native grass seeds and remove invasive vegetation from 21 acres of river corridors and meadows to enrich wildlife habitat. The collaborative efforts involves the Colorado West Land Trust as well as the BLM, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Mountain Island Ranch, Rivers Edge West and Trout Unlimited

To date, GOCO has invested more than $48.1 million in projects and partnered to conserve 18,304 acres in Mesa County. GOCO funding has supported the Colorado Riverfront Trail, Highline Lake State Park and Las Colonias Park as well as the restoration of Riverbend Park.

GOCO invests a portion of proceeds from the Colorado Lottery to preserve open spaces, parks, trails, rivers and wildlife habitat. Created by an amendment to the Colorado Constitution approved by voters in 1992, Great Outdoors Colorado has since funded a total of more than 5,600 projects in all 64 counties in the state.

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