Colorado Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed October 2021 ‘Colorado Lottery Conservation Month’ to celebrate the organization’s commitment to conservation and protection of Colorado’s great outdoors.
“Conservation goes beyond open space. Every acre of local parks improvement, trail upkeep, new recreation spaces and school infrastructure help keep our spaces supported and expanding to accommodate all of the new people who enjoy Colorado’s great outdoors every year,” said Colorado Lottery director Tom Seaver.
For the first time in decades, new legislation in FY21 changed the Lottery’s funding distribution after the GOCO cap was met. The Colorado Legislature voted to approve the creation of the Outdoor Equity Fund. The fund, which is managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, received $750,000 for fiscal year 2021. In addition, the Wildlife Cash Fund received $2.3 million and a Parks/Outdoor Recreation Cash Fund received $2.3 million for the first time. Building Excellent Schools Today received $7.6 million.
The governor’s proclamation highlights the Lottery’s commitment to becoming one of the most responsible Lottery organizations in the country. As of today, the Lottery has returned more than $3.7 billion to parks, recreation, conservation projects and schools and this fiscal year alone, the Lottery gave nearly $169.4 million to its partners.
To help drive awareness about the importance of conserving the open spaces of Colorado, the Lottery has partnered with organizations throughout the month to promote conservation volunteer events. The Colorado helped sponsor and drive volunteers for three events this year. Combined, all three events saw more than 250 volunteers, with more than 100 participating in the Lottery’s Runyon to the Res Arkansas river cleanup event.
To continue to drive awareness about the importance of conservation, on Oct. 2, the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council hosted its 12th annual year of ReTree event on October 2. Over the past 12 years, they have planted over 23,000 trees in the Yampa Valley. This year, volunteers planted approximately 500 trees (donated by the Colorado Lottery) along the Yampa River near the City of Steamboat Springs’ Rotary Park. This project aims to increase shade along the river to reduce water temperatures, improve riparian habitat, and sequester carbon.
The Lottery also hosted its third annual “Runyon to the Res” Arkansas River Trail clean-up event Saturday, Oct. 9, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the City of Pueblo Parks and Recreation, and the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center in Pueblo. Volunteers helped clean up debris from the banks of this important and popular river.
The final volunteer opportunity occurred Oct. 16, at Cherry Creek State Park. Volunteers spent the day helping remove Russian Olive trees. Russian Olive is an extremely invasive species known to choke out native plants and prevent them from re-establishing.