Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded $147,000 to the National Forest Foundation and Chaffee County to create sustainable recreation opportunities across Colorado’s iconic 14,000-foot+ mountains.
This visioning grant is part of GOCO's Centennial Program, which helps partners thoughtfully plan for high-value, once-in-a-generation projects that will create lasting impacts on the Centennial State and future generations.
With this funding, the National Forest Foundation and Chaffee County will work with over 20 partners, including outdoor recreation organizations and local communities, to create a shared vision for sustainable recreation across Colorado’s 14ers.
View from Mount Evans peak. Photo by Mike Petrucci.
In partnership with staff from several Colorado-based nonprofit and community organizations, the National Forest Foundation and Chaffee County will convene communities, local governments, sovereign tribal nations, outdoor stewardship organizations, federal and state land management agencies, and businesses at a statewide level to agree on a set of broad desired conditions that can be applied to each 14er while considering needs for visitor use, primitive trail experiences, and cultural or tribal significance.
Partners aim to identify a statewide, scaled approach to meet trail sustainability, resource protection, and outdoor recreation access goals at the most popular 14ers. The effort will consider equitable access to these places and how to break down local barriers to the outdoors. It will also work to identify an investment plan for sustainably funding proposed efforts.
"The NFF is thrilled to work alongside Chaffee County, the U.S. Forest Service, and organizations around Colorado to create a once-in-a-generation vision that will honor Colorado's 14ers and support equitable, sustainable access to these important and well-loved mountains," said Mary Mitsos, President & CEO, National Forest Foundation. "We appreciate GOCO's trust in our coalition of partners, and are grateful for the opportunity presented by GOCO's Centennial Program."
The visioning process will occur over 18 months beginning in the spring of 2022 and will include key stakeholders such as the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Get Outdoors Leadville!, Chaffee Recreation Council, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, volunteer groups, recreation user groups, Colorado-based youth corps, community-based participants, and the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The coalition has provided $62,551 in cash and in-kind matching funds to implement the planning process.
View from trail on Mount Evans. Photo by Meredith Fontana.
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,500 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.