Enhance land stewardship through increased conservation

Why is this important to Colorado?

Enhancing land stewardship efforts across Colorado ensures the sustainability of millions of acres of land for the enjoyment of generations to come.  Active land management including agricultural leases, mineral development, and leasing lands for recreational activities supports Colorado’s commitment to land stewardship. By developing new and maintaining existing trails for the public while conserving wildlife habitat through restoration and improvement projects, Colorado is engaging the next generation of land stewards and protecting the abundant natural resources that make this state so special.

How do we measure success?

  • Increase private funding for trails from $17.8 million by 2018. GOCO secured $7.8 million to match with private fundraising for Colorado 16 trails.
  • Restore, maintain or enhance at least 6,650 acres of wetlands annually by 2018.  In FY 2016-17, CPW restored, maintained, or enhanced 3,828 acres of wetlands, which is about 1,300 acres more than in FY 2015-16.
  • Maintain at least 40,000 acres of native prairie grassland habitat each year. As of June 2017, there are 40,000 acres of privately-owned prairie grassland enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program. Funding for this program is expected to end this year and CPW will find funding to replace the federal money and either re-enroll or enroll at least 40,000 acres each year.
  • Increase the streams miles occupied by native Greenback Cutthroat Trout from 2 miles to 10 miles by 2018.  While Greenback Cutthroat Trout only gained one additional mile in FY 2016-17, extensive fieldwork in the summers of 2017 and 2018 is targeting a threefold increase in the stream miles, which we believe will get us to the 2018 goal. 
Status Outcome Measure 2015 Outcome Baseline 2016 Actual 2017 Actual 2018 Actual 2018 Outcome Target


Private funding for trails associated with CO 16 initiative $7.8 million $7.8 million $7.8 million $9.8 million $17.8 million


Number of acres of wetlands restored, maintained, or enhanced per year 2,583 6,650 5,456 1,600 6,650

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Number of acres of prairie grassland habitat restored, maintained, or enhanced per year 40,000 40,000 40,000 40,000 40,000

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Stream miles occupied by native Greenback Cutthroat Trout 2 2 10 13 10

Source: Colorado Department of Natural Resources

What actions are we taking?

  • The Governor’s Colorado the Beautiful initiative envisions that within a generation, every Coloradan will live within 10 minutes of a park, trail or vibrant open space. It builds on existing efforts and creates new partnerships to grow, enhance, connect and market statewide outdoor recreation resources. The Department of Natural Resources is working with a team of experts, including Great Outdoors Colorado and Colorado Pedals Project, to map trails and open spaces, protect iconic outdoor landscape, and encourage youth to participate in healthy outdoor activities.
  • Colorado identified 16 priority trails to be a part of Colorado the Beautiful “16 in 2016” initiative, now known as Colorado’s 16; these 16 trails consist of critical trail gaps, missing trail segments and undeveloped trails that rely on strong partnerships to push them to completion.
  • While private fundraising was delayed, other funding sources have put over $28 million toward the Colorado the Beautiful 16 trails. This funding has helped to complete several key segments of trail already, including connecting Two Ponds Wildlife Refuge to Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge as part of the Rocky Mountain Greenway, Fort Collins to Loveland, and Fruita to Loma. 
    • ​Other funding sourced include: Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the Federal Highway Administration, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and other state, local, and federal sources
  • Through funding sources including Great Outdoors Colorado, the Federal Highway Administration, and other state, local, and federal sources, local governments and trail sponsors have been able to complete a few key segments of trail already, including 3 miles of the Peaks to Plains Trail in Clear Creek Canyon and connecting Two Ponds Wildlife Refuge to Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge as part of the Rocky Mountain Greenway. 
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife launched the Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) in June 2017.  COTREX is a online application connecting Coloradans and visitors to rewarding trail experiences by enabling anyone with a browser to explore over 39,000 miles of recreational trails.
  • Habitat restoration and protection efforts result in better habitat for native animal and plant species, as well as increased and improved recreation opportunities for hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.  Colorado Parks and Wildlife works with private landowners to enroll their land in habitat enhancement or protection programs, as well as hunting access programs that provide public access for hunting on public and private lands.
  • Wetland restoration projects not only benefit the species that depend on wetland habitat but also ensure more and higher-quality water for the growing population in this state. Colorado Parks and Wildlife administers a grant program that funds wetland restoration projects performed both by CPW and outside groups that restore, maintain, or enhance wetlands.
    • Since 2015, over 16,000 acres of wetlands were restored maintained or enhanced, but do to the variable nature of project completion, the total acres was lower in 2018 than in previous years.    
  • Colorado launched the Colorado Habitat Exchange for Greater Sage Grouse (GrSG) as a way to incentivize private land conservation for key species.