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GOCO seeks public input about use of Lottery proceeds

As it marks its 15th anniversary of awarding grants for outdoor recreation, open space protection, trail and wildlife projects, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board is asking for help in planning for the future.

Members of the GOCO board and staff will conduct a public meeting in Durango at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Durango Public Library, 1900 East 3rd Ave. Citizens and representatives of local governments, state agencies, land trusts and user groups are being invited from Archuleta, Dolores, Hinsdale, La Plata, Montezuma, Ouray, San Juan and San Miguel counties.

The meeting is part of a series that GOCO is holding around the state to seek input about the use of GOCO’s portion of Lottery proceeds in the next five years.

“GOCO grants are a smart community investment,” said GOCO Board Chair Norma Anderson. “The projects awarded grants build recreational and economic assets within Colorado communities.”

GOCO is the result of a citizens’ initiative that was passed by 58 percent of the voters in 1992.

It receives approximately half of Colorado Lottery proceeds — $54.3 million in Fiscal Year 2009. It awards grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks. More than 3,000 projects have benefited from GOCO grants since 1994. All 64 counties in Colorado have received GOCO grants.

Demand for GOCO dollars continues to outpace funds available. In addition, current population projections for Colorado indicate that another 1 million people will move to the state by 2020, creating a need for additional outdoor recreation areas, and a need to continue to protect valuable land that marks our rich western heritage and draws new residents and tourists to the state.

In all, projects in the eight southwestern counties have won more than $40 million from GOCO since 1994.