Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
GOVERNOR OWENS ANNOUNCES PRESERVATION OF
Chris Leding/GOCO 303-226-4530/303-981-7900
John Swartout/GOCO 303-916-4105 (cell)
Dan Hopkins/Governor's Office 303-866-6324
80,000 ACRES WITH $60 MILLION IN GOCO/LOTTERY GRANTS
DENVER Governor Bill Owens today joined with members of the Great Outdoors
Colorado (GOCO) Board in announcing an unprecedented investment of $60 million in state
lottery proceeds. $48 million of that total will help preserve 80,000 acres including dramatic
landscapes in Northern Colorado's Laramie Foothills, Jefferson County's Front Range
Mountain Backdrop, and southwest Colorado's San Juan Skyway. The remaining $12
million will advance work on two new State Parks, trails, and regional outdoor recreation
"With broad support from communities across the state, large expanses of open space
that define the rich beauty of Colorado will now be preserved. This unprecedented
investment by the GOCO Board to protect open space is good for Colorado's wildlife, our
citizens and economy," Owens said. The Governor was joined by GOCO Board members
and project sponsors at the State Capitol.
The $60 million will go to 18 projects that have been competing for the money since
June. The grant cycle was offered by GOCO to address large-scale land preservation needs
that were brought forward by local governments, land trusts and state agencies. This was
part of an extensive stakeholder process the board conducted when it was deciding whether
to exercise bonding authority granted to it by the voters in 2001.
"The approach the GOCO Board has chosen fulfills the voters intent without going
into debt," said GOCO Board chairman, T. Wright Dickinson of Maybell. "These grants
meet the most urgent land preservation needs at this time. And, if additional projects of the
same urgency come forward in the future, GOCO still has preserved its option to bond."
The Governor, who supported the effort to give GOCO bonding authority, said the
Board had taken a "common sense approach" by using lottery proceeds to fund the projects.
"In this case, I believe the decision to fund projects from lottery proceeds, instead of
incurring debt, was a common sense approach that is good for the state."
Grants awarded for land preservation include:
Grants awarded to recreation projects from the remaining $12 million include:
- $11.6 million to the Laramie Foothills/Mountain to Plains Project sponsored by
Larimer County, Fort Collins, The Nature Conservancy, and the Legacy Land
Trust. The project will protect 55,400 acres north of Fort Collins creating a mountain
to plains conservation zone of approximately 140,000 acres. The protected area is a
contiguous band extending 22 miles across, from native grasslands along I-25 to the
foothills and lower reaches of the Roosevelt National Forest. It is rich in wildlife and
working landscapes. Sponsors will construct 30 miles of trail in an area that has
previously been inaccessible to the public. The landscape, where sweeping
grasslands merge with red buttes, remains as it was when early settlers first arrived.
- $3 million to the City of Durango for the Jacob's Cliffs Open Space Acquisition.
The property lies at the base of Animas Mountain and advances the City's goal of the
mountain being a fully protected resource for the community. The 176 acres of
Jacob's Cliffs provides scenic vistas and a heavily wooded mountainside with a mix
of steep terrain and large rock outcrops and cliffs. The area also provides critical
winter-range for deer and elk, as well as passive recreational opportunities such as
hiking and rock climbing.
- $5 million for Jefferson County's South Table Mountain Acquisitions. Four
million dollars will be used by the County toward the purchase of the 730-acre Coors
property that was negotiated in November. The remaining $1 million can be used for
future purchases in the same area. The preservation of South Table Mountain, one of
the most recognizable landmarks on the Front Range, has been a priority for the
County since voters approved an open space sales tax in 1972. Home to many
wildlife, the area will also be available for hiking, mountain biking and horse back
- $3.7 million to the Saguache Creek Corridor Project sponsored by the Colorado
Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT). The Saguache Creek Corridor is
defined by a narrow, but unbroken chain of irrigated agricultural lands stretching west
from Saguache, bordered on both sides by sagebrush-covered BLM uplands, and
framed in the distance by the forested mountaintops of the Rio Grande National
Forest. GOCO funds will allow CCALT to assist willing landowners, many of who
have been in the area for four generations, in the perpetual protection of agricultural,
wildlife and scenic values in the corridor through below market purchases of
conservation easements. CCALT envisions purchasing easements on 17 ranches,
permanently protecting 18,400 acres, with this grant assisting with the first eight. All
of the proposed conservation easement ranches include stretches of Saguache Creek
or its primary tributaries.
- $4.2 million to the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) for the Colorado
Species Conservation Partnership (CSCP)/Phase 2. This partnership is advancing
the goals of Governor Owens and DOW to prevent the further decline of wildlife
species, recover declining species, reduce the necessity of further listing of species
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and down-listing and de-listing species
listed as threatened and endangered under the ESA. Significant success has already
been achieved by the CSCP partnership between DOW, the United States Department
of the Interior, land trusts, and landowners through the permanent protection of 4600
acres for Gunnison Sage Grouse Habitat in Gunnison County. Colorado currently has
16 species of vertebrates listed as federally threatened or endangered. Five additional
species (Gunnison sage-grouse, boreal toad, black-tailed prairie dog, Arkansas darter
and lesser prairie-chicken) are in various stages of review for federal listing.
"These projects, fueled by GOCO/Lottery dollars, are helping to conserve some
special open spaces and to meet our recreation demands both key components of quality of
life," said Governor Owens.
- $820,000 for the Continental Divide Trail Alliance to construct four segments of
Colorado's portion of the Continental Divide Trail, an effort to create a primitive
and challenging backcountry trail on or near the Continental Divide from the
Canadian to the Mexican border. Colorado's portion of the trail is approximately 800
miles long; it is estimated that 487 miles of that is complete, leaving 258 miles of
planning and new construction and 55 miles of reconstruction. This grant will
construct 56 miles of new trail and reconstruct 17 miles in Chaffee, Clear Creek,
Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Jackson, Lake and San Juan counties.
- $4 million to Colorado State Parks for continued development of St. Vrain State
Park in Weld and Boulder counties and $2.5 million for development of the
Cheyenne Mountain State Park in El Paso County. Work at St. Vrain will include
infrastructure development and construction and improvement of more than 160
campsites. The park, formerly known as Barbour Ponds, is within 20 miles of
downtown Denver and will serve as an important outdoor resource for urban
Mr. Dickinson concluded "The GOCO Board thanks the sponsors of these projects for
their vision, creativity and for working in partnership to preserve critical wildlife habitat, our
working landscapes, and scenic vistas. We know the investment of these dollars in your
projects is wise and that they will be well spent by you to preserve the character of
Great Outdoors Colorado is the result of a citizens initiative passed in 1992. It
receives up to half of lottery proceeds. Since 1994, GOCO has awarded $489 million for
more than 2200 projects in all of Colorado's 64 counties.
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