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County projects receive GOCO grants

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Photo by Pat Sunderland Over the winter, city parks crews continued efforts to clean out tamarisk, Russian olive trees and encroaching vegetation from Confluence Park. The north side of the park has a much more open feel, which makes walkers feel more com

The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board has awarded two grants totaling $103,000 to Delta County projects.

The City of Delta received a $75,000 planning grant to develop its first parks, recreation, open space and trails master plan, and the Town of Cedaredge received a $28,000 mini grant for improvements to and an extension of Surface Creek Trail.

GOCO planning grants help local governments gather public input, evaluate conditions, and develop strategic plans to meet the outdoor recreation needs of Colorado communities. The City of Delta's planning grant will allow the city to hire a professional consultant to coordinate an extensive public input and stakeholder engagement process driving the development of its first master plan.

The master plan will help parks and recreation staff members balance opportunities for expansion with ongoing maintenance needs of existing facilities. It will also allow various key partners, including Delta County commissioners and representatives from Delta County Economic Development and Delta County Tourism, to weigh in on the plan.

In Cedaredge, a $28,000 GOCO mini grant has funded the first phase of an effort to improve and extend Surface Creek Trail. The town received a land donation from Deer Creek Village Homeowners Association, which will help make the improved Surface Creek Trail, the longest public nature trail in the area.

The trail, which is already popular with residents, will be extended and widened, and drainage improvements will increase the trail's safety and year-round usability. Hazardous trees will be mitigated and uneven surfaces repaired. The trail is used by students walking to and from school, school sports teams, commuters, and locals for exercise. A recent study conducted as part of planning efforts by a local GOCO Inspire Initiative coalition found that 72 percent of adults and 45 percent of students in Delta County regularly hike or walk on trails.

The Western Colorado Conservation Corps is scheduled to start working on the trail in May 2017, and the project is projected to be completed by the end of summer 2017. The town is also planning future phases to extend the trail to a scenic overlook and connect it to other existing trail segments.

To date, GOCO has invested $7.2 million in Delta County projects and has conserved more than 600 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported Crawford State Park, Delta regional youth sports complex, and the Delta County Fairgrounds, among other projects. Greater Delta County was also named a GOCO Inspire pilot community and is part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.

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 4,900 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.

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