Recently Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) awarded a $25,000 grant to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to enhance solar water wells at Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area (SWA), the largest SWA in Colorado at 30,000 acres.
The grant is part of GOCO’s CPW Director’s Innovation Fund (DIF), a partnership between GOCO and CPW. The program is designed to fund small-dollar, innovative projects across the agency.
Bosque del Oso currently has 11 solar water wells, but only three are in operation. The functioning wells are miles apart, and the two forks of the Purgatoire River that run through the property are on opposite ends. In addition, the lake and streams are typically dry by June each year, limiting water resources for wildlife and their habitat.
“Bosque del Oso is one of the largest jewels in the SWA portfolio,” said GOCO Parks and Wildlife Program Manager Emily Orbanek. “Water for wildlife in the Bosque del Oso is hugely important. There is not a ton of flowing water there. So, it is important to get the wells up and running and several of them have been out of commission for a while now.”
CPW will be responsible for completion of the work.
According to GOCO the funding will help CPW make improvements to four of the non-functional wells to ensure they operate properly. Some wells may need to be re-drilled, and large tanks will be installed to collect water for wildlife and prevent it from seeping into the soil. This will directly benefit all wildlife by creating proper access to water and will help distribute wildlife more equally across the property, enhancing hunting and viewing experiences.
A new policy from CPW that goes into effect July 1 requires a valid hunting or fishing license (the main funding mechanism to maintain SWAs) to access SWAs like the Bosque del Oso, or State Trust Land leased by CPW.
“This new rule change will help our agency begin to address some of the unintended uses we’re seeing at many of our State Wildlife Areas and State Trust Lands,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow.
Meanwhile, GOCO has invested more than $29.2 million in projects in Las Animas County and conserved more than 205,000 acres of land here. GOCO funding has supported the ongoing work on Fishers Peak in Trinidad, which will become Colorado’s 42nd state park. Funding has also supported the conservation of JE Canyon, Trinidad State Park, and the Kim Equine Pavilion, among other projects.
“Yes, obviously we love Trinidad,” said Orbanek. “When you protect large landscapes they do benefit wildlife. When we can keep land in tact, it might not be contiguous, but when you have that land in close proximity to other protected lands — it is significant.”