GOCO says open space applicants can include water-rights mapping in grants

open space

A mountain biker rides through the tall, lush grasses and wildflowers in Red Rocks Canyon Open Space. (Photo by Christian Murdock/The Colorado Springs Gazette, )

Great Outdoors Colorado wants to know that when it gives out a grant that applicants aren’t wading into a bog of red tape that could tie up conservation and low-impact recreation projects.

GOCO is making a water rights mapping software part of the deal to ensure local governments, land conservation groups or Colorado Parks and Wildlife to guarantee due diligence as part of this year’s applications.

Local policymakers need to know this. This year’s round of GOCO Open Space Grants are due by Aug. 3, with a July 20 deadline to show a draft. Grant projects tend to be natural greenways, stream corridors, sheds for scenic views and other low-impact recreation areas and habitats.

Tools such as Denver-based Water Sage, used in drafting the state’s water plan, can be written into the grant.

“GOCO supports our grantees’ use of systems designed to enhance the due-diligence review process associated with real estate transactions,” Chris Castilian, GOCO’s executive director, said in a statement. “Water Sage provides an efficient mechanism for searching, identifying and confirming water rights.”

Water Sage isn’t the only tool for the job, but it’s the one that explained all this stuff to Colorado Politics, and we don’t know any others. The cost per application ranges from $99 to $6,000, depending on the size of the project, so the lottery players who fund GOCO are picking that up.

“Understanding water rights can be an overwhelming task,” said Spencer Williams, the business development manager at Denver-based Ponderosa Advisors, which developed the tool starting in 2013. “With Water Sage in hand, applicants can navigate Colorado’s challenging water rights system with confidence and ease and know it won’t break their budget.”

GOCO, which turns 25 this year, has spent $917 million from the Colorado Lottery on more than 4,900 projects in all 64 Colorado counties, the agency says.

 

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