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Palmer Receives GOCO Resilient Communities Program Grant

Palmer Land Trust receives $303,700 grant to expand outdoor recreation opportunities and protect agricultural lands

The GOCO board awarded a $303,700 grant to Palmer Land Trust (Palmer) to support its Southern Colorado Community Resiliency Project, which aims to expand outdoor recreation opportunities and protect agricultural lands. The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the need to accelerate progress and increase operational support for the effort.

This grant is part of GOCO’s Resilient Communities program, which helps grantee partners advance outdoor recreation, stewardship, and land protection work. Funded projects will respond to one-time, immediate needs or opportunities that have emerged in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic all within the context of GOCO’s five program values: resource conservation, outdoor stewardship, community vitality, equitable access, and youth connections to the outdoors.

With the GOCO funding, Palmer will hire two conservation program managers. One position will be located in Colorado Springs and will support three critical community recreation projects, including the Ring the Peak Trail project, the Front Range Trail project, and the Mueller State Park Expansion project. The second conservation program manager will be located in Pueblo and will lead the outreach and community development aspects of the Bessemer Farmland Conservation Project and the Pueblo Community Conservation Initiative, both concentrated on protecting important agricultural lands and local food production. Funds will also be used to open a land trust office in Pueblo to help expand the organization’s support, capacity, and impact on conservation projects across Southern Colorado.

"Outdoor recreation and locally grown food are pillars of our high quality of life in southern Colorado. Our resiliency as a region is directly connected to how we take care of our outdoor spaces and natural resources. GOCO's capacity investment in our region will directly result in more miles of trail, the conservation of key natural landscapes, and water and food security," says Rebecca Jewett, Palmer's President and Chief Executive Officer. 

The Southern Colorado Community Resiliency Project is focused on expanding public open space and outdoor recreation opportunities and protecting local sources of food production. These efforts not only provide increased access to local food and the outdoors but also strengthen the resilience and sustainability of Southern Colorado communities today during the crisis and into the future. 

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 5,300 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.

Founded in 1977, Palmer Land Trust is a regional organization that serves 19 counties representing over one million people throughout southern Colorado. Working with individuals, private and public partners, and various communities, Palmer Land Trust has conserved 136,000 acres, including 20 public parks and open spaces, important working farms and ranches, and iconic scenic views. Palmer promotes the conservation and enjoyment of our region’s most important natural assets that define why we love Colorado - its natural beauty, locally grown food, and outdoor recreation. For more information: www.palmerlandtrust.org.

Views from Pikes Peak