GOCO awards $20,000 grant for Circle Park fishing pond project

MEEKER | The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded a $20,000 grant on Thursday to Area 6 of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to transform a portion of the Meeker Power Ditch into a new fishing pond at Circle Park.

The grant is part of GOCO’s CPW Director’s Innovation Fund (DIF), a partnership between GOCO and CPW to create a funding source for one-time, innovative projects that would not otherwise receive funding from either organization. CPW receives half of GOCO’s funding each year for statewide programs, wildlife, and state parks through an annual investment proposal, however many innovative, small-dollar projects fall outside current funding parameters.

The funding awarded to Area 6, which covers Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, will open up one acre of land and provide a consistent water supply to Circle Park Pond for public fishing access. Currently, the pond suffers from irregular waterflow, making for low-quality fish habitat. It also has limited public access around it, making it difficult for the public to fish and for CPW to host youth fishing clinics in the summer.

The project brought together partners from Eastern Rio Blanco Recreation and Park District (ERBM), the Town of Meeker, White River Electric Association (WREA), and local business Five Rivers, Inc.

WREA modified its latest hydropower project to allow the town and ERBM to use return flows from their Meeker Ditch water rights to fill the pond consistently. Five Rivers designed and will build the pond, with varying water depths, a floating dock and a pavilion. CPW will keep the pond stocked with rainbow trout and host youth and community events at the park.

The new pond will also create opportunities for Meeker School District science classes, which are already studying the adjacent White River.

CPW aims to have the pond open to the public at the beginning of 2019.

To date, GOCO has invested $16.7 million in projects in Rio Blanco County and has conserved more than 29,000 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported Meeker School District stadium, Foothills Park, and Paintbrush Ballpark among other projects.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.