Grants awarded for river land purchase

The Mesa Land Trust wasn’t the only group that recently won a Great Outdoors Colorado grant.

The city of Delta received a $175,000 grant to purchase open-space land along the Gunnison River. Routt County was awarded nearly $488,000 to buy open land along rivers.

The grants stem from a special river-corridors initiative that GOCO focused on this year to help protect the state’s rivers and streams. It made about $18 million available for the project, asking local governments and land trusts to submit grant requests to that end. That call resulted in 63 applications asking for more than $160 million.

Only 27 entities received grants in the final round, splitting about $5.9 million.

The GOCO board approved continuing the grant program into 2012 and invited 17 additional projects, including one in Mesa County, to submit full applications to get a piece of nearly $32 million it expects to award next summer.

The board says it’s looking for projects that either provide direct access to river-based open space and recreational opportunities, including trails, or those that provide buffers to open space or recreational facilities along the state’s rivers.

In December, the GOCO board awarded the Mesa Land Trust $675,750 to purchase about 130 acres to extend the popular Lunch Loop trail system.

At the same time, it invited the county to apply for additional funds to improve the Fruita, Kokopelli and Clifton trails. Garfield County also was among the 17 invited to request funding for the next phase of the South Canyon Trail.

Meanwhile, Montrose officials are disappointed they didn’t get a grant for a proposed whitewater park on the Uncompahgre River.

The city asked GOCO for $350,000 to help build the kayaking park, which is expected to cost nearly $800,000. It planned to match the GOCO funds and secured grant money from other sources.

Great Outdoors Colorado grants are funded by lottery proceeds.


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