GOCO initiative may mean good things for Moffat County

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Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) may receive additional funding if voters approve a ballot iniative in November.

This could mean more funding for projects in Moffat County.

"Our Land, Our Future," a coalition of conservation groups, filed a ballot initiative with the state legislative council Monday that would amend the Colorado Constitution to increase funding for the GOCO trust fund.

GOCO funds are used to protect working ranches and farms, open spaces, urban parks, wildlife habitat, rivers, lakes and streams.

The initiative will allow the excess limited-stakes gaming license funds that currently go into the state general fund to be placed in the GOCO trust fund.

Those funds would mark a substantial increase to the GOCO trust fund.

Fifty percent of the license fees come from the limited-stakes gaming in the towns of Cripple Creek, Blackhawk and Central City. These funds are allocated into the state general fund. The iniative would reallocate all that money in the GOCO fund.

"Some of Colorado's indeed the nation's most productive agricultural lands are being permanently lost. As communities are expanding and developing pressures grow, Coloradans are facing unprecedented economic pressures which often profoundly change communities," said Jay Kenney, one of the two proponents of the initiative. "At the same time, current requests to Great Outdoors Colorado for open space preservation money outstrip available funds by more than 4 to 1."

If passed by the voters, some of this additional revenue could make its way to Moffat County in the form of new recreational facilities and protected openspace, according to Will Shafroth, executive director of GOCO.

"It would provide significant additional funds for the whole range of facilities and land projects that GOCO funds," said Shafroth. "GOCO has provided more than $10 million to the Yampa Valley Legacy Project. With more funding, that would have the opportunity to grow. In the past, Routt County has received larger amounts of funding due to the higher population and the pressure of development in the area, This extra funding may free up the (GOCO) board to do more work in Moffat County."

Before the initiative finds its way on the ballot, a number of signatures must be collected by August.

Shafroth believes it is still to early to speculate on whether the initiative will pass or not.

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