GOCO board awards $1 million in grants for Arapahoe County projects 

The  Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded $1,033,800 in grant awards for three projects in Arapahoe County. This funding will help revitalize Reynolds Landing Park in Littleton, mitigate invasive species along the High Line Canal, and repair damaged trails in South Suburban Parks and Recreation District’s South Platte Park.

A $950,000 grant will help the City of Littleton transform Reynolds Landing Park on the South Platte River into a community asset. The City plans to incorporate low flow pools and other wave features, separate cyclists from pedestrians, and ensure accessibility. The park will serve diverse user groups, enhance regional trail access, improve river health, and create unique outdoor experiences that will contribute to the community’s quality of life. 

The grant is part of GOCO’s Community Impact program, which develops and revitalizes parks, trails, school yards, fairgrounds, environmental education facilities, and other outdoor projects that enhance a community’s quality of life and access to the outdoors. 

The project involves several partners including Mile High Flood Control District, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, Arapahoe County Open Space, Colorado Water Conservation Board, South Platte Working Group, and a local private donor. 

The next two grants are part of GOCO’s Conservation Service Corps program. GOCO partners with Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) to employ conservation service corps crews across the state on outdoor recreation and stewardship projects. CYCA represents a statewide coalition of eight accredited corps that train youth, young adults, and veterans to complete land and water conservation work and gain professional skills. 

A $66,600 grant will support the High Line Canal Conservancy in partnering with Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) to continue restoring the High Line Canal’s plant community. The Canal has not been filled with water in 20 years, resulting in the corridor’s tree canopy being covered with invasive weeds that outcompete native plants for water. Over six weeks, MHYC crews will inventory and remove invasive Russian olive trees beginning at the Denver-Aurora border and continuing northeast along the Canal. Conservancy staff will train corps members to use GIS mapping applications to collect data on invasive species. This project will build on mitigation efforts initiated in 2022, adding 14.5 miles of coverage to create a continuous 42-mile treated area.

Lastly, a $17,200 grant will help South Suburban Parks and Recreation District partner with a MHYC crew to repair a mile of damaged trails and improve three access points at South Platte Park. The park has four miles of walking trails, mostly on clay-loam soil surfaces, without much slope or drainage. As a result, they have become muddy routes that cause visitors to go off-trail. MHYC will fill trenched, low, or soft trails with crushed granite and create wider, firm surfaces that better drain water and are more sustainable as trail use continues to grow. MHYC will also build stairs and drainage features on points approaching the river to reduce the creation of user-made social trails.

To date, GOCO has invested more than $25 million in projects in Arapahoe County and partnered to conserve 2,267 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported the High Line Canal, Cherry Creek State Park, Mary Carter Greenway East Bank Trail, and two local Generation Wild communities, Generation Wild Northeast Metro Coalition and Sheridan Inspire, among other projects.