The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded a $17,960 grant to the city of Gunnison to support a new park in the West Gunnison neighborhood, a diverse and underserved area of the city. A crew from Western Colorado Conservation Corps (WCCC) will build a gravel trail to connect the park to a new housing development.
This grant is part of GOCO’s Conservation Service Corps grant program. In partnership with the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA), GOCO offers funding to hire conservation service corps for outdoor recreation and natural resource stewardship projects. CYCA represents a statewide coalition of eight accredited corps that train youth, young adults and veterans to work on land and water conservation projects. Corps members earn a stipend for their service and an AmeriCorps education award to use toward college or reducing existing student loans.
“The investments by GOCO arrive at a critical time for our Colorado public lands and our young people,” said Scott Segerstrom, executive director of CYCA. “These projects create jobs across the state while ensuring our iconic public lands are well-maintained and accessible to improve the physical and emotional well-being of Coloradans. GOCO and CYCA look forward to changing lives together in 2021.”
Planning for a park in West Gunnison began in 2008, and in 2015, the city purchased a 15-acre property for use as a park and future housing developments. To expand amenities for area residents, WCCC will work to build a .7-mile path connecting the park to a planned residential community, the scenic Gunnison River waterfront, a senior care center and nearby open space. Crews will also restore native vegetation and remove noxious weeds along the trail and, if time permits, install playground equipment purchased by the city.
Currently, approximately 3,900 residents live within one mile of the park, and once future housing is complete, the neighborhood will be home to more than 6,100 people. This park is the only outdoor recreation area in west Gunnison, and the need for more outdoor recreation opportunities has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The city hopes to complete this portion of the park development project by the end of 2021.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $46.2 million in projects in Gunnison County and conserved more than 33,000 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported planning for West Gunnison Park, the Ridges to Rivers Trail project, Teller Baseball Field and the conservation of Trampe Ranch, among other projects.