Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCO, has awarded $60,750 to Colorado Springs-based conservation group, Palmer Land Trust. The grant will fund efforts to recruit a new generation into the cause of land conservation.
Palmer Land Trust says that though young people in Colorado Springs use and value open space, they’re less often involved in efforts to preserve and expand it. The organization wants to change that, says director of operations Anais Spitzer.
"We have to work to create land conservation advocates who understand the importance of conservation for our region and who will help our community navigate some of the conservation challenges that we inevitably face," she explains.
With the grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, Spitzer says Palmer Land Trust plans to put together an awareness campaign and event series, and create a new advisory board consisting of millennials and Gen X-ers.
GOCO, which is the agency responsible for distributing a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to parks and open space initiatives, says the idea is innovative. Michele Frishman, manager of GOCO's open space program, says many land trusts and conservation organizations around the state are led and supported by aging board members and advocates. She says it's important that younger people learn what it takes to preserve open space in Colorado.
"Eventually these are the people who will be making the decisions about funding and protecting these areas," she says, "and they are also a large percentage of the people who are going out and using these lands."
Frishman says GOCO will be monitoring Palmer Land Trust's efforts. If successful, GOCO hopes to replicate the program in other communities across the state.