Great Outdoors Colorado announced $2 million in grants Monday that will fund conservation, recreation and wildlife projects along the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs and Hayden.

Photo by John F. Russell

Great Outdoors Colorado announced $2 million in grants Monday that will fund conservation, recreation and wildlife projects along the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs and Hayden.

GOCO grants $2 million to Steamboat, Hayden water projects

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— The latest batch of grants from Great Outdoors Colorado could fund the first trails along the Yampa River in Hayden.

The state organization known as GOCO, which uses lottery revenues to protect and enhance wildlife areas and parks across the state, announced a $2 million grant Monday that will fund projects along the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs and Hayden. The grant is part of $57 million in GOCO "Legacy" allocations that will impact 138,000 acres across Colorado. Projects include $10.5 million for greenway development along the South Platte River near Denver, and $7.4 million to protect nearly 5,700 riparian acres in the San Luis Valley.

Linda Kakela, director of intergovernmental services for the city of Steamboat Springs, said part of the $2 million from this latest grant cycle will be used to purchase land and conservation easements adjoining the Howelsen-Emerald Mountain regional park and along the Yampa River south of Steamboat.

Kathy Hockett, Hayden's parks and recreation director, said the funds will also help the town purchase land for trails to connect Hayden parks - including Hayden Town Park on Third Street and Dry Creek Park near the Routt County Fairgrounds - to the Yampa River.

"It could potentially be our first trail access from the town to the river," Hockett said. "Eventually, we would like to go west, hopefully hooking up with the Yampa River State Park, and east, to the Nature Conservancy. It's essentially bringing together the core pieces of the park system and getting it to the river."

Hockett credited Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin with making the grant possible. She said that while full funding for the project could be three years away, linking Hayden parks to the river is an exciting vision.

"There's just so much potential for fishing and recreation and wildlife habitat," she said.

Kakela said the $2 million will build on projects that have collected more than $30 million since 1996, through collaborations between groups including the Routt County Purchase of Development Rights Program, the city of Steamboat Springs, the town of Hayden and the Yampa Valley Land Trust.

"We are absolutely thrilled to be able to work with the GOCO Legacy Program," Kakela said. "It continues a decade of good partnering in Routt and Moffat counties for open space, parks trails and outdoor recreation."

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