Gates Family Foundation Awards Major Grant to Southeast Colorado Collaboration Effort

Canyon and Plains LOGOThe Gates Family Foundation recently awarded nearly $400,000 in grant money to a collaborative effort to preserve the southeastern Colorado landscape and revitalize its communities.  The grant was awarded to four project applicants:  Canyons & Plains of Southeast Colorado, Palmer Land Trust, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

Together these four groups share a vision to build upon the unparalleled array of natural, historical and agricultural resources in southeastern Colorado and forge a sustainable economic future for the region.  The project spans eight counties:  Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers and Pueblo.

Working with these four main organizations will be three implementation partners:  the National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, and the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition.  All seven organizations have already accomplished much in the region, but this grant will fund a powerful, coordinated effort to achieve results.

Goals of the effort are for cooperative planning to drive overall efforts in the region; to energize rural communities by a rich overlay of tourism and business infrastructure; and to promote conservation by private landowners to preserve local control of land and water resources, protect future prosperity, and create one of the largest protected landscapes on its kind in the country.

Working towards these goals over the next few years, the partners seek to build core conservation and tourism development capacity, expand land stewardship and agricultural infrastructure for long-term economic impact, and establish a national heritage area in southeastern Colorado.

Overall, the partners were granted funding in the amount of $390,000.  Canyons & Plains, the southeastern Colorado regional heritage tourism group, received $200,000.  Palmer Land Trust received $110,000.  Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory received $30,000.  Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and their subcontractor, Guidestone Colorado, received $50,000.  All are moving forward with hiring staff and coordinating efforts to build on their shared vision.

Canyons & Plains and Palmer Land Trust have now opened offices at the Idea Center, 408 North Main Street, in Rocky Ford.  Both have also hired new staff:  Rick Manzanares, as Executive Director for Canyons & Plains, and Ginger Davison, as Palmer Land Trust Lower Arkansas Valley Conservation Director.

The Gates Grant partners will be hosting an Open House at the Idea Center in Rocky Ford on Wednesday, December 18 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.  All are invited to come and meet the partners’ new staff members and learn more about this exciting project for southeastern Colorado. 


Canyons & Plains (formerly known as the Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Task Force) is a heritage tourism development organization. Formed in 2003, C&P serves seven counties—Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, Prowers and eastern Las Animas. The non-profit group promotes visitation to and stewardship of the unique historical, natural and cultural assets of south-eastern Colorado among resident, state, national, and international audiences. Since its formation, C&P has garnered over $1 million in funding for projects in the area.

For more information contact: Rick Manzanares, 719.688.5026

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessEnvironmentEventsFeaturedHistoryRecreation


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