GOCO awards $20,000 grant to manage river algae

RBC | The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board has awarded a $20,000 grant to Area 6 of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to document and manage the negative effects of excessive green algae (Cladophora) growth in the White River Basin.

The grant was 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 Rio Blanco County, will provide the resources needed to research, document and manage Cladophora overgrowth, which is impacting the water quality of the White River and fouling irrigation pumps in nearby towns. The algae overgrowth is affecting fishing, irrigation and municipal pumps, and the area’s natural landscape. CPW’s research will focus on understanding the timing and occurrence of algal blooms and the physical and chemical properties influencing its growth. It will also provide insight into its migration into other Colorado rivers.

The long-term benefits of the research conducted by Area 6 will provide CPW with the information needed to sustain the White River Basin’s native fish populations and watershed health. Understanding and determining the cause of algae overgrowth will also guide CPW’s mitigation strategies, preserve the natural landscape of the White River Basin, and improve the river’s water quality.

This project brought together more than a dozen partners and stakeholders to form the White River Algae Technical Advisory Group (TAG). Partners include: Rio Blanco Water, Conservancy District, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Rio Blanco County, Town of Meeker, Town of Rangely, Meeker Sanitation District, White River Conservation District, Douglas Creek Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Trout Unlimited, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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 5,200 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.

Special to the Herald Times

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