Yampa River Legacy Project funding to be discussed | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa River Legacy Project funding to be discussed

— The future of the five-year-old Yampa River Legacy Project will be on the table at Olympian Hall tonight.

Representatives of the Legacy Project say they intend to impress upon the Great Outdoors Colorado board members here tonight the major role lottery proceeds routed through GOCo have played in conservation efforts in Northwest Colorado.

The GOCo board and its executive director, John Hereford, will be in Steamboat Springs for a stakeholders meeting with representatives of five neighboring counties at 10 a.m. at Olympian Hall in the Howelsen Hill Lodge. They’ll convene again at 7 p.m. for a public meeting. The board decides how a portion of lottery proceeds dedicated to broad conservation and recreation projects will be spent.

“I believe our message will be strong support for continuing Legacy programs,” said Linda Kakela of the city of Steamboat Springs. “One of the things we’ll want the board to hear is that Legacy has been extremely important to the success of conservation in the Yampa Valley.”

The local Legacy project was created in 1996 to carry out a variety of voluntary conservation projects intended to protect and enhance the ecological health of the Yampa River and the agricultural lands surrounding it. The Yampa project has also sought to provide recreational activities that fit in with its conservation goals.

One of the first six Legacy project created by GOCo, the Yampa River Project has received $10.5 million to date. It still has funds in its account that have been attached to projects that will be carried out through 2003, Kakela said.

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The Yampa River Legacy Project has enabled 15 different stakeholders in Northwest Colorado to take on a large scale planning project it could not have otherwise managed, she added.

Great Outdoors Colorado faces declining lottery proceeds and with a new director and significant turnover on the board is traveling the state to learn more about how Colorado residents want GOCo funds spent, Kakela said. The board has not made a commitment to continuing Legacy funding.

In a letter to Kakela, Hereford said: “It has been three years since GOCo adopted its current strategic plan. This will provide a good opportunity for GOCo board members, most of whom were not on the board three years ago, and staff, to hear firsthand from stakeholders and citizens about how you want lottery proceeds invested across the state and in your area.”