Anita Evans and Scott Rist with the Nature Connection approached the Town of Crawford last week, seeking financial and in-kind support for a matching Inspire grant they intend to apply for through Greater Outdoors Colorado in July.
The Nature Connection is a nonprofit group working with the Delta County School District and other partners to provide outdoor recreational opportunities and environmental education to schoolchildren here. Recently, the Nature Connection has provided opportunities for students in Delta County and in Olathe to go rafting, cross country skiing and learn how to monitor snow levels on Grand Mesa.
Board members have spent the past 18 months surveying almost 3,000 kids and parents to see what kinds of outdoor activities kids most want to try. From that survey process, the Nature Connection has drafted a community plan that outlines specific projects that will help kids get outside. For the community of Crawford, based on survey results, the Nature Connection has outlined creating a school garden space at North Fork Montessori School at Crawford, building a shade structure, revitalizing the path to C Hill and adding signage to the path, and creating a storywalk display at Crawford State Park. Those projects are estimated to cost $26,800. The total amount the Nature Connection will apply for is close to $2.2 million, Evans said, which includes projects in each community. "It's really a great process, working with all of these communities. You guys care about your kids. They are the future of your towns," Evans said.
She said they need to have a commitment of a 10 percent cash match and 15 percent in-kind match to apply for the grant. She and Rist asked the Town of Crawford to consider pledging a small amount of cash in 2018, 2019 and 2020, as well as write a letter of support for the project.
Trustees did not hesitate to offer to send a letter of support. The financial piece was a little trickier. "Our budget this year is extremely tight," noted public works director Bruce Bair. But he offered up his department to help with manpower and equipment usage for the projects. "I think it would be a great partnership for the community," he said. Trustees agreed to look at dedicating some in-kind support in addition to the letter of support, and said they would look at the budget at the end of the year to see if the town can also contribute financially for the next three years.