Eagle County governments add support to Colorado Lottery reauthorization | VailDaily.com

Eagle County governments add support to Colorado Lottery reauthorization

Hockey players congregate at Eagle Town Park to play on the seasonal outdoor rink. Eagle used Conservation Trust Fund money from the Colorado Lottery to purchase the outdoor rink liner.

EAGLE COUNTY — Eagle County, and the various municipal governments within the county, have greatly benefited from funding generated through the Colorado Lottery.

As a result, they have a vested interest in seeing it continue.

The proceeds from Colorado's Lottery support outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state. Colorado Lottery money comes to local governments in two forms. The first is through the Conservation Trust Fund. These allocations are based on census figures and are made annually to governments that request the funding. Towns and counties can only spend the money on recreation projects, and if they do use Conservation Trust Fund dollars, then they are audited by the state for the expenditures. In the town of Eagle, for example, the Conservation Trust Fund money has been in the $31,000 to $36,000 range for the past three years.

"I don't know of any county or municipality that would say no to that money," said Eagle Finance Director Jill Ewing.

The other program funded through Colorado Lottery money is the Great Outdoors Colorado grant program. Through competitive grant applications, GOCO funds large projects such as the Sylvan Lake State Park land purchase nearly 20 years ago and the Hardscrabble Ranch purchase in 2017.

According to Eagle County Communications Director Kris Widlak, the county has received nearly $18.5 million in GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) grants and more than $3 million in Conservation Trust Fund money.

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To ensure that money keeps flowing to their pet projects, local governments have joined their counterparts statewide to pass resolutions in support of reauthorizing the state's lottery division. The town of Avon passed its support resolution in December. Eagle County is slated to approve its in March .

Reauthorization

Last week, the Colorado State Senate passed SB18-066, which extends the operation of the State Lottery Division. The bill reauthorizes the division, which would expire in 2024 without action from the General Assembly, to administer the program for 25 additional years.

"Colorado is the only state that distributes 100 percent of lottery proceeds to support outdoor recreation and land conservation," said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado.

With the Senate bill now approved, the Colorado House of Representatives will take up the debate.

"The Senate's support for lottery reauthorization sends a clear message that we value our public lands — from city playgrounds to state parks. Our representatives should follow suit and pass this bill to ensure that Coloradans can continue to access and enjoy the trails, rivers and wildlife we all treasure," Braden said.

Conservation Colorado reports that GOCO has returned more than $1.1 billion in funding to the people of Colorado.

"These projects have helped connect families to the outdoors, created and enhanced community trails and parks, built outdoor recreation facilities, preserved wild spaces, wildlife habitat and improved river access and quality," Braden said.

Colorado Lottery …

by the numbers

Since its inception in 1992, the Colorado Lottery has compiled the following statistics:

• 1,600: Community parks and outdoor recreation areas funded.

• 1 million: Acres conserved.

• 900: Miles of trails restored or reconstructed.

• 1,000: Miles of rivers protected.

• 47,000: Acres added to the Colorado State Parks system.

• 43: Endangered or threatened species supported.

Source: Conservation Colorado