GOCO board awards $294K to RiGHT for staffing, training

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded a $294,375 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) to hire two new conservation staff positions and provide staff training in the San Luis Valley.

The grant is part of GOCO’s Planning and Capacity program, which invests in projects that address opportunities, explore issues, engage communities, and examine trends in the outdoors.

RiGHT will hire two new staff positions and enhance staff training to promote conservation and restoration in the Valley. With this added capacity, RiGHT expects to create cost and administrative efficiencies, increase the donor pool and donations by as much as 30%, and advance 2-3 new conservation easements per year, while better serving and representing the region.

A conservation connector position will help RiGHT's three program directors conserve new properties, steward lands with conservation easements, and restore ecosystem function on public and private lands. Additionally, an administrator/events and outreach coordinator will engage the community through events and targeted fundraising, and support the executive director in administrative and operational tasks. To better represent the population of the Valley, RiGHT hopes to recruit a local candidate for one or both positions.

Staff training will include Esri geographic information system (GIS) mapping and drone operations, allowing the organization to conduct these activities in-house and reduce outside contracting costs while supporting staff retention through professional development opportunities.

“We are so grateful to GOCO for this opportunity to enhance our capacity and excited to continue supporting local agriculture, conservation, and restoration efforts,” said Laura Cusick, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust’s interim executive director. “This funding ensures that RiGHT can conserve more acreage, further protect water rights, and include more voices from the community we serve in the San Luis Valley.”

RiGHT has served the San Luis Valley since 1999 and, as the organization embarks on its 25th year, they're celebrating over 32,000 acres conserved via 57 easements, 95% of which are on working lands.

To date, GOCO has invested more than $8.7 million in Alamosa County and partnered to conserve 30,453 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported San Luis Valley Generation Wild and Alamosa City Ice Rink, Montaña Azul Park, and Rio Grande Healthy Living Park, among other projects.

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 5,700 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.