The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded a $340,000 grant to the City of Colorado Springs to employ seasonal staff to complete critical stewardship projects in local parks and open spaces experiencing significant visitation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This grant is part of GOCO’s Resilient Communities program(link is external), which helps grantee partners advance outdoor recreation, stewardship, and land protection work. Funded projects respond to one-time, immediate needs or opportunities that have emerged in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic all within the context of GOCO’s five program values: resource conservation, outdoor stewardship, community vitality, equitable access, and youth connections to the outdoors.
In partnership with Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI), the City of Colorado Springs will use these funds to employ 5-7 seasonal workers to complete stewardship projects over the course of the next two years. Stewardship activities will include new trail construction and restoration, fence installation and repair, habitat protection, and erosion control. In addition, workers will benefit from environmental education opportunities, including training in Leave No Trace (LNT) practices.
RMFI stewardship crews will be supplemented by community volunteers of diverse ages, experiences, and backgrounds, further extending resources and enhancing community relations. Project locations will be determined based on highest need, visitation levels, and needed support for existing management plans.
Additionally, the City will partner with the Trails and Open Space Coalition to develop a Trail Ambassadors Program to educate users on trail safety and etiquette. Ambassadors will inform users about trail etiquette, provide general trail information, connect users with community resources, and share LNT principles. The program aims to train 40 volunteers over a two-year period, with the goal of having ambassadors be a consistent presence at popular trailheads in Colorado Springs.
Through these efforts and others, the City aims to be a Leave No Trace Gold Standard site by 2021.
GOCO receives a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to preserve, protect and enhance the state's wildlife, parks, rivers, trails and open spaces. Since 1992, GOCO has invested more than $56.3 million in projects in El Paso County and conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Colorado Springs Legacy Loop, Ute Valley Gateway Open Space, John Venezia Community Park, Edison Park at Venetian Village, El Paso County Fairgrounds, the Manitou Incline, and the Generation Wild of the Pikes Peak Region coalition, among other projects.