Conservation fund grants announced

VALLEY – The San Luis Valley Conservation Fund (SLVCF), a partnership between Colorado Open Lands, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, Western Rivers Conservancy and the LOR Foundation, announced its third round of grant awards for organizations working in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.
A total of $540,000 was awarded recently by the SLVCF to bolster conservation efforts within the Valley and to help preserve the region’s rich cultural heritage while enhancing livability for local communities.
A total of 21 organizations received grants that ranged from $5,000 to $50,000.
“There is great work being done by the organizations and communities in the San Luis Valley, and the most recent round of grants from the SLVCF will only strengthen that work, maintaining the rich culture and natural beauty of this region for future generations,” said Jake Caldwell, program officer at the LOR Foundation. “We are proud that we are able to make these grants to 21 different local organizations in partnership with Colorado Open Lands, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust and Western Rivers Conservancy.”
Local grants follow:

Conejos Clean Water
Preserving Community: Sustaining Community Engagement and Construction of Facilities for Promotion –$30,000
This project will sustain programs that CCW has developed to enhance livability and health of San Luis Valley communities, especially through outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities for valley youth and families; additional preservation of local communities and their rich cultural heritage; and conservation of valley land and water through sustainable natural resource management practices.

Costilla County Conservancy District
Upper Culebra Watershed Planning Project – $35,000
This project aims to engage stakeholders in an inclusive process to develop a scope of work and prepare an RFP for a watershed assessment of the Culebra Watershed. Stakeholders will determine the needs of the ecological conditions of the area, identify problems, and develop a list of prioritized objectives needed for the assessment.

Costilla County Economic Development Council, Inc.,
Funding for project coordinator – $12,000
This award will fund the Project Coordinator position, which complements the work of the Hispano Farm Curriculum project by developing a signature exhibit at the Sangre de Cristo Heritage Center on acequias and the Hispano farm. The Coordinator will collaborate with public and private agencies and individuals to enhance collaborative partnerships for CCEDC projects and other projects such as Congreso de las Acequias.

Sangre de Cristo
Acequia Association
Developing Strategies for the Sustainability of the Traditional Acequia Culture – $50,000
The Developing Strategies for the Sustainability of the Acequia Culture will be centered on the practices that were adopted through the Association’s ongoing strategic planning process for 2018. This includes employment of the association’s executive director, identifying member acequias, and developing training sessions for acequia producers, as well as collaborating with partners to develop needed programs.

Volunteers for Outdoor
Sustaining and Growing Our Valley Organizations – $30,000
As the San Luis Valley grows and evolves, its nonprofit organizations will be challenged to step up their community support. This project offers tools and techniques to sustain current operations and to position organizations for future growth.
The partners’ efforts are focused on the Rio Grande and the open space surrounding and dependent upon the river and its tributaries. The Rio Grande provides crucial habitat for fish and wildlife, including pronghorn, elk, bighorn sheep, over 200 bird species and 95 percent of the Rocky Mountains’ greater sandhill crane population.
The Rio Grande and its tributaries sustain the working ranches and farms that form the base of the region’s agricultural economy. They are also the primary source of water for the valley’s historic acequias, a system of communal irrigation in the southern portion of the valley that predates Colorado’s statehood and has connected local communities for generations.
The river also provides some of the best recreation opportunities for people throughout the San Luis Valley.
With the support of the LOR Foundation, COL, RiGHT and WRC are working together to help preserve the valley’s rich heritage, balancing agricultural needs with conservation and recreation along and around the Rio Grande.

San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, Environmental and Regenerative Farming Education at the Rio Grande Farm Park – $35,000
This award will support RGFP’s initiative to enhance its environmental and regenerative farming educational offerings, which help visitors draw connections between the environment, recreation, and conservation. Park staff will create construction documents for an education pavilion and work with many partners to ensure that the plan meets the needs of local youth, families, residents, and other community stakeholders. In addition, the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, Valley Roots Food Hub Regenerative Soil Farmer Project was awarded $5,000
The project will build on the burgeoning soil health movement in the SLV. This phase will feature participating farmers in a soil health marketing campaign aimed at area restaurants, schools, and other retailers. This will be accomplished by going to participating farms, touring the land, documenting and interviewing the farmer, and constructing the results into an effective marketing campaign.
Walk2Connect, Caminos del Valle Capacity Building – $13,000
This project is an investment in capacity building and new program development alongside a diverse list of partners for the San Luis Valley’s Caminos del Valle connection-focused walking community. The project will support development of meaningful walking events, walking leader training and community outreach throughout the Valley.



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