OSAC debates applying for GOCO grant
SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County Open Space Advisory Commission (OSAC) debated last week whether to apply for Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grants to help cover the cost of the 573-acre Cow Camp property the county purchased last month.One criteria GOCO uses to determine who receives what funds is the urgency involved in protecting the land, and once a parcel has been purchased for protection, the urgency factor usually diminishes.Commissioners cited a Pitkin County application to which GOCO might have been more receptive if the land hadn’t already been purchased for protection. Instead, the agency passed over the application, saying the sense of urgency to protect the land was no longer a pressing factor.Such is the case with the Cow Camp parcel, located near Heeney at the north end of the county. The county purchased the property for $2.66 million last month.Last year, open space commissioners felt they needed to acquire the land before GOCO’s spring grant cycle in 2003 because the owners were in the process of subdividing the parcel into lots and actively seeking buyers. Thus, they said, the application had a sense of urgency at the time and that that urgency should be considered in the spring grant cycle.Applications for that cycle are due March 3; GOCO will award grants June 27.”In a perfect world, land is put under contract, you apply for the grant, get the money and close on the deal,” said county Open Space and Trails Director Todd Robertson. “There are applicants out there that haven’t even talked with landowners; they just want to protect certain parcels, so they apply.”The odds aren’t in our favor,” he said of the Cow Camp application. “But it’s kind of like the Lottery itself. If you don’t play, you can’t win.”And OSAC needs the money. The county and the town of Breckenridge are under contract with the owners of a B&B Mines parcel to buy 1,800 acres of land in the Golden Horseshoe northeast of Breckenridge. The $9 million deal is scheduled to close in June 2004 after the town and county determine the possible extent of the environmental liability associated with mining in the area.Breckenridge and the county will split the cost to buy the B&B lands, and OSAC dipped into its funds to acquire Cow Camp. Now, commissioners wonder if they will jeopardize their chances to get GOCO grant money for the B&B lands next year if GOCO decides to grant them retroactive funds for the Cow Camp purchase.”We’re hurting now,” Robertson said. “We have a $4.5 million purchase coming up, and we took a big chunk of change to get this piece of property.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.—At a GlanceGrantsAmounts awarded in Colorado since 1994Open Space$36.4 millionLocal governments$27.2 millionTrails$7.4 millionPlanning and capacity building$8.6 millionLegacy Projects$118.3 millionColorado State Parks$44.3 millionDivision of Wildlife$53 million
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