DOW Receives More Than $15 Million in GOCO Funding

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Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) projects aimed at conserving native wildlife species and their habitats, improving education programs, and creating new wildlife viewing sites around the state will be funded by more than $15 million in Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) funds over the next few years.

Some $9 million in GOCO funding for the 2005-2006 fiscal year was approved in early December, along with another $6 million awarded to the DOW as part of a $60 million funding package for large-scale projects around the state.

The DOW leveraged the GOCO funds with at least $15 million of its own funds for a total investment of more than $30 million over the next few years.

This level of funding will make a profound impact upon protecting Colorado’s declining species and their habitat for future generations, said Rich Larson, a GOCO liaison for the DOW.

”Because of the GOCO funds, the DOW has developed partnerships it has never had before. We have expanded our traditional constituency base of hunters and anglers, and are immersed in positive relationships with many of the 40 land trusts around the state,” Larson said. ”We really are the envy of the vast majority of states in the country. To put this money on the ground to benefit Colorado’s diverse wildlife heritage – Colorado really is on the forefront here.”

Over the past 10 years, the GOCO board has awarded nearly $100 million to the DOW for ongoing species and habitat conservation programs and popular education and wildlife watching programs.

The new round of funding includes $4.2 million in capital funds for the DOW’s highly successful Colorado Species Conservation Program (CSCP). The program, which was launched in 2001, fosters positive relationships between the DOW and private landowners to conserve wildlife habitats. Another of the program’s primary goals is to keep native wildlife species from being listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We’re finding tremendous success with this program,” Larson said. “Its success really has its roots in private landowners realizing they can continue to work their land and raise cattle while benefiting Colorado’s declining wildlife species.”

Some of the GOCO funds will be allocated to ongoing species conservation efforts, including those to reintroduce Canada lynx, black-footed ferrets, bald eagles, and other Rocky Mountain native species.

Also, a portion of the lottery proceeds will be used during the 2005-2006 fiscal year on river stewardship and youth education programs, including one that will train kindergarten through 12th grade school teachers and provide them with materials they can use in classrooms. GOCO funds will also be used to support the DOW’s Colorado Watchable Wildlife program, which supports the development of wildlife viewing sites and workshops.

The funds awarded to the DOW as part of a $60 million GOCO package for large-scale projects will help the agency develop three major projects that will benefit wildlife and outdoor recreation. They include the previously mentioned CSCP program; the Laramie Foothills project spearheaded by Larimer County and Fort Collins; and the development of a large shooting sports facility tentatively named the Colorado Outdoor Education & Recreation Complex.