On Friday the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded two grants totaling $652,512 for projects in Lake County. The board awarded a $500,000 grant to Central Colorado Conservancy to expand the Shawn Andrick Memorial Preserve and a $152,512 grant to Lake County to upgrade the pump track at Leadville’s Huck Finn Park.
GOCO Land Acquisition program
The first grant is part of GOCO’s Land Acquisition program, which supports urban and rural landscape, waterway, and habitat protection priorities across Colorado.
With its grant, the Conservancy will add eight additional parcels containing 161 acres of land and nearly one mile of Arkansas River frontage to Shawn Andrick Memorial Preserve. Funding will be used to purchase the parcels in fee title and develop a management plan in coordination with local partners, Colorado Open Lands (COL), and Lake County. The conservation easement will be donated to COL, and Lake County will manage the public access easement.
The acquisition will double the size of the existing preserve, protecting critical wildlife habitat and migration corridors, while also expanding public access to nearly three miles of the Arkansas River. Upon completion of the management plan in 2023, partners will allow public access to the property, while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of habitat and wildlife protection.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to protect this important habitat and public resource with the generous support of GOCO and our other partners. This Preserve will help ensure the health of the Arkansas River for the benefit of wildlife and our community,” said Kyle Clifton, Conservation Projects Manager at Central Colorado Conservancy.
The conserved area will act as an important connector to publicly protected lands in the area. The parcels will help link three Colorado Parks and Wildlife state wildlife areas, Bureau of Land Management lands, and national forest, benefitting public access, wildlife migration routes, and habitat protection. With significant population growth in the region, the likelihood that these parcels would otherwise be developed by private interests is high.
Central Colorado Conservancy has also secured $100,000 from private fundraising and $900,000 from the Natural Resources Damages Trustees, which oversee settlement payouts from the California Gulch mine.
This project will build on existing partnerships with Lake County, COL, Lake County Open Space Initiative, Trout Unlimited, Gates Family Foundation, and Climax Mine, which all invested in the establishment and protection of the preserve in its early phases.
GOCO supported the preserve’s initial creation with a $505,500 investment in 2017.
GOCO Community Impact Program
The second grant is part of GOCO’s Community Impact program, which develops and revitalizes parks, trails, schoolyards, fairgrounds, environmental education facilities, and other outdoor projects that enhance a community’s quality of life and access to the outdoors.
Funding will support the renovation of Huck Finn Park in Leadville, enhancing recreational access and community vitality at the centrally located park by offering a paved pump track that accommodates a wide range of wheeled sports and is more user-friendly for beginner riders, as well as reducing safety and maintenance concerns with the existing structure.
Huck Finn attracts intermediate and advanced riders from across the county. The updated park will offer a wide range of features for users of all abilities as a multi-use facility with an asphalt pump track, progressive skill features, jumps, and various shade and seating structures to enhance family gatherings.
“Lake County Government and the Recreation team are thrilled about the GOCO award for Lake County nets $652K in GOCO grants to expand Shawn Andrick Memorial Preserve and update Huck Finn Bike Park ,” said Amber Magee, Recreation Director at Lake County. “The Cloud City Wheelers are fantastic partners and have put in years of hard work to make this project a reality. We know this renovated asset will not only expand community access for a wide range of riders, but be one of the first steps in addressing the many deferred maintenance projects in Lake County.”
Many nearby trailheads and bike trails require specialized equipment or vehicles to access; this new bike park will expand equitable access to not only cyclists but also to skateboards, scooters, rollerbladers, and roller skaters in the community. It also aims to reduce user conflicts at the adjacent skatepark.
The park enhancements were designed by Full Circle, a local nonprofit committed to community placemaking in Lake County, and is being spearheaded in partnership with Cloud City Wheelers, a local chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association. Cloud City Wheelers members have hosted several community events to raise funds needed for the project, and local contractors and businesses have offered free materials and their time to help build the park. The Cloud City Wheelers will help manage this park and will be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep.
“The Cloud City Wheelers first began building the Huck Finn Park in 2007 working with Lake County and the City of Leadville,” said Sterling Mudge, Executive Director at Cloud City Wheelers. “With the addition of the GOCO funded skatepark, the need for a more inclusive and progressive park became evident. Over the course of three years our community dug deep and helped raise much needed funds and support to help make our dream a reality.”
The new park has strong support of local organizations that plan to use the pump track for outdoor programming, including the Generation Wild coalition Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!), Colorado Mountain College, Full Circle, and Cloud City Mountain Sports, an outdoor sports group that helps foster a love for outdoor recreation.
GOCO previously invested $350,000 to support the construction of Huck Finn skatepark in 2014. Lake County aims to have the new pump track completed and open to the public by fall of 2022.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $11.1 million in projects in Lake County and conserved 4,266 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported Mt. Elbert trails and stewardship, the Get Outdoors Leadville! Generation Wild community, West Park Elementary play yard, Lake County Community Park, and the conservation of Headwaters Ranch, among other projects.
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 5,500 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.
Featured image: Huck Finn Skate Park in Lake County, CO. Courtesy image