The Fountain Creek Watershed Trails and Recreation Project has won a $2.5 million Great Outdoors Colorado lottery grant, one of eight funded via a special rivers corridor initiative to foster outdoor recreation and land preservation.
The money will be used to turn Fountain Creek into a recreational asset in Pueblo and El Paso Counties.
Ultimately, the goal of the project is to provide a continuous trail connection from the Springs to Pueblo, with recreational amenities throughout.
Project components approved by GOCO are:
• Improvements to Colorado Springs’ America the Beautiful Park to connect it to the creek, provide users direct creek access and add an environmental playground by removing a berm that separates the park from the creek and its trail.
• Expansion of the existing Fountain Creek Nature Center, by adding 2,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor environmental education space, nearly doubling the center’s size. This joint Fountain/El Paso County effort will also include installation of interpretive and way finding signage.
• Construction of a trailhead and trail along the creek through the Colorado Springs’ Clear Spring Ranch open space. This 1,000-acre property currently offers limited public access. Direct creek access will be added for tubers and provide environmental education opportunities.
• Construction of a creekside park in Pueblo’s Eastside neighborhood, including splash park and skate park features and direct creek access. The park will be physically linked to the existing recreation center. The Fountain Creek trail through the area will be improved for accessibility and safety.
Several local groups sponsored the application: city of Pueblo, the city of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, the city of Fountain, Colorado Springs Utilities, the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District and the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority sponsored the application.
“Great Outdoors Colorado spends a lot of time out in communities across Colorado and we heard the same themes repeatedly over the last couple of years,” said GOCO Board Chair Peggy Montano. “Coloradans stressed the importance of increased recreational opportunities close to home and the potential of rivers and trails, trails, trails.”
The GOCO Board awarded a total of $37.3 million in grants to 42 projects throughout the state at its meeting on June 19. GOCO’s special river corridors initiative will result in the protection of more than 3,000 acres of publicly accessible open space and trail development.
GOCO is the result of a citizens’ initiative passed by the voters in 1992. As the recipient of approximately half of Colorado Lottery proceeds―$56 million in 2011―GOCO awards grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.
To read CSBJ coverage about Fountain Creek’s potential, click here.