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By Randy Hampton
Special to The SUN
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is accepting applications from individuals, organizations and local governments to distribute up to $1.7 million for outdoor recreation activities in Colorado. Matching grants are available in 2013 for projects in Colorado that benefit fishing, shooting ranges or boating.
The grant programs are partially funded by federal excise taxes on the sale of boating, hunting and fishing equipment and come to Colorado through the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2012, marking the initial passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937.
“These programs are one of the ways Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency partners with local governments and local groups to make it possible for more people to enjoy the real Colorado,” said Rick Cables, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Outdoor recreation is a powerful driver for local economies and jointly building these projects is a win for everyone.”
A 2008 study by BBC Research and Consulting found that hunting and fishing recreation contribute $1.8 billion annually to the state’s economy. Hunting and fishing revenues support 21,000 jobs across the state in businesses and industries that provide direct and indirect services and goods to sportsmen and sportswomen.
Projects to improve angler access, fish habitat and angling conditions can receive matching funding from the Fishing Is Fun grant program. During the past quarter century, Fishing Is Fun has provided assistance with nearly 300 projects statewide, including projects to open new ponds and lakes, improve fish habitat in streams and rivers and add trails, shade shelters and parking areas. Municipalities, counties, angler groups, and park and recreation departments are among those eligible to apply for community-based projects that will benefit anglers. This grant cycle, Fishing Is Fun has $900,000 in available matching funds to distribute to selected projects. The deadline to apply for the 2013 Fishing Is Fun funding cycle is March 1. Complete details on the Fishing Is Fun grant program are available online at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/ResourcesTips/FishingIsFunProgram/.
The Shooting Range Development grant program started in 2009 and will provide up to $500,000 this grant cycle to aid in the development of new firearm or archery shooting ranges or improve existing ranges.
“The Shooting Range program has helped bring about a significant increase in safe and accessible recreational shooting opportunities across the state,” said Cables. “I am particularly pleased to see new and expanded ranges up and down the Front Range, where demand greatly exceeded supply.”
Matching funds can be used for berms, backstops, fencing, signage, parking or other range components. Acquisition of property for construction of new shooting ranges is also considered. The application deadline for the 2013 Shooting Range Development program is Feb. 1. Details on the Shooting Range Development program can be found at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/ShootingRanges/ShootingRangeGrants/Pages/RangeGrants.aspx.
The Boat Colorado! grant program is looking for projects that open new waters to boats or improve facilities at lakes or reservoirs that already allow boat access. Boat Colorado! has up to $300,000 in matching funds for this grant cycle for projects such as new boat ramps, docks or access roads. Funding can also be used to establish cleaning facilities to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species. The application deadline for Boat Colorado! is March 2. For more information on Boat Colorado! visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/ResourcesTips/MotorboatColorado/.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife also offers Non-Motorized Trail Grants and Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Grants on a separate funding cycle. Applications for trails grants programs are typically available in August with the deadline for non-motorized trail projects in early November and OHV trail project grant applications due in early December.
More information on the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program is available at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/.