GOCO grants almost $6 million to area projects | SummitDaily.com

GOCO grants almost $6 million to area projects

garfield county correspondent

DENVER ” Great Outdoors Colorado awarded nearly $6 million in state lottery funds for a wide range of projects in the Crystal Valley Watershed and Rifle.

On Monday, GOCO announced that the Crystal Watershed Legacy Project will receive about $5 million to protect essential open space areas and fund construction of the first phase of a trail up the Crystal River Valley.

“This is by far the largest GOCO grant that’s ever been received by an open space program on the Western Slope, so we’re thrilled to have secured this level of assistance from the state,” said Dale Will, director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.

About $1 million of that will go toward building 5 miles of multi-use trail from Carbondale to the mouth of the Crystal Canyon. The trail still needs approval permitting from the Colorado Department of Transportation. Will said there are hopes to put the project out to bid early next year and complete construction before next winter.

Another $1 million will go toward purchase of a boat ramp for people to access the Roaring Fork River for fishing and rafting from Carbondale. The remaining $3 million will go into land conservation projects, Will said.

Property purchased for conservation includes 7 acres housing the old hydroelectric plant for the Redstone Castle. That was a “Victorian hydrohouse” completed in 1941, making Redstone one of the first towns in the Rockies to have electricity, Will said, but it’s since fallen down.

“By purchasing the river frontage out in front of the castle, one of the objects was to allow the Redstone Historical Society to restore that,” he said.

It would also allow for public fishing in an area that has been private. Nearby, a 35-acre parcel on the red cliffs above Redstone was purchased. That will preserve public access to a world-class ice-climbing formation called “The Drool,” Will said.

A 620 acre conservation easement was purchased on a ranch property near Carbondale, plus another 100 acre conservation easement on a ranch near Marble, Will said.

Will said the grant application was submitted in partnership with Carbondale and the Aspen Valley Land Trust, and that Pitkin, Garfield and Gunnison counties have pledged matching funds. Garfield County promised $500,000 this year and next year to go toward the trail, Will said. He thought the number of different political entities and the diversity of projects included in the grant application contributed to its success.

According to GOCO, Centennial Park in Rifle will also receive $750,000 for improvements. The undeveloped open space surrounding Rifle Creek will receive funds for a fitness course, a wetland boardwalk and riparian area, themed play areas, interpretive signs, an outdoor learning area, picnic areas, restrooms and parking.

GOCO said the grants are part of $75 million awarded Monday. About $57 million was slated for 15 legacy projects that will protect 138,000 acres in Colorado. The rest is for local park and outdoor recreation, open space, planning and wildlife grants.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121, pfowler@postindependent.com

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