Colorado Lottery Recognizes 13 Projects With Sunburst Awards In 2024

Written By T.J. McBride on 04/27/2024 - Last Updated on April 28, 2024
Castle Rock Park, one of the 13 2024 Sunburst Award winners

The Colorado Lottery created the Sunburst Awards to reward projects that use Lottery funds excellently.

In 2024, the group awarded 13 projects with the honor for their positive impact on Colorado’s natural beauty.

The awarded projects included new parks, trail-building, and fire-mitigation efforts across the state.

All Lottery proceeds enhance the outdoors in Colorado

In most states, the lottery spends its funds on public education. However, the Colorado Lottery spends its proceeds entirely spent on the outdoors. Colorado is the only state that does that. The more than $4 billion the Lottery has collected over the last 41 years goes to five specific entities:

  • Great Outdoors Colorado
  • Conservation Trust Fund
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Building Excellent Schools Today Fund
  • Outdoor Equity Fund

From those programs, the lottery awards grants to organizations, cities, and towns across the state to fund outdoor projects.

To be considered for a Sunburst Award, projects must show how funding from the Lottery was spent to enhance a community in Colorado. Then, the state judges them on the “creativity of the project, economic and social impact on the community, and the goals achieved.”

In 2024, there were more submissions than ever, said Tom Seaver, director of the Colorado Lottery.

“The incredibly impactful projects represented here showcase critical funding for everything from important planning grants and connecting communities through trails, to open space conservation and the protection of vistas, and demonstrate how Lottery dollars have helped make Colorado what it is today.

“This year’s Starburst winners are exemplary advocates for their communities, making a difference one project at a time.”

The 13 projects awarded in 2024 combined to use nearly $9 million in Lottery funds.

The 2024 Sunburst Award winners

AHRA Rec Ranger Program

The project created a Rec Ranger Program to fight against human effects on nature at the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.

The project’s submission said:

“Thanks to this Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant, this summer of 2023, new rec rangers contacted more than 1,600 dispersed campers, broke down 150 illegal fire rings, removed 189 contractor bags of trash and 54 bags of human waste, and distributed housing resource information to over 100 residential camps.”

Butterfly Crossing and Possibilities Playground

The city of Castle Rock was honored for its efforts to make Butterfly Crossing and Possibilities Playground accessible for kids of all abilities. To accomplish that goal, the city added wheelchair-accessible fitness courts and sensory walls.

Panorama Park

The Lottery honored Panorama Park project for redesigning and expanding the park in Colorado Springs to serve the community better.

Crown Mountain Bike Park

Instead of leaving space underutilized in El Jebel, the Crown Mountain Bike Park was created to revive the area. It is now open all year, built to be affordable, and offers health and recreation options while making the sport more accessible to residents.

Brick and Tile Park

The city of La Junta left the La Junta Brick and Tile Park unused for years. It is now an inclusive recreation area that addresses the community’s need for fitness and play options. The city’s nature conservation efforts on the park bolstered the project’s chances of being honored with a Sunburst.

Coal Creek Park

The redevelopment of Coal Creek Park in Erie began in 2017. Since then, the project added 163 new trees, built a multi-use event lawn made of turf and new play areas for children.

Winter Wildlife Conservation Initiative

The Winter Wildlife Conservation Initiative is unique in the Sunburst Awards because it did not win for its direct impact. Instead, it won for its efforts to better educate the public about wildlife conservation.

Colorado Front Range Trail

The Colorado Front Range Trail was planned for years but never completed. That changed thanks to the town of Castle Rock, which completed a five-mile section of trail that now connects the city to Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

Black Girls Hike, Urban Trekker and American Adventure Sports Club

Vibe Tribe Adventures is a nonprofit based in Denver that creates adventure sports opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and people of color to enjoy Colorado’s outdoors. In 2023, Vibe Tribe Adventures helped 480 participants and 600 kids.

Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative

Elkhorn Creek Forest Health Initiative used its funds from the Lottery to mitigate fire risk in several areas.

RESTORE Colorado

RESTORE Colorado works with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to maintain and restore Colorado’s rivers, streams, wetlands, and all habitats that exist in those spaces. It has received $4.5 million from the Colorado Lottery to continue its important work.

Lake San Cristobal Island Acquisition

Hinsdale County and the Trust for Public Land purchased the second-highest alpine lake, Lake San Cristobal, in Colorado, to open it to the public. There are plans to add an ADA-accessible pier and create places for guests to enjoy the scenery.

Delhi Ranch Conservation Easement

The Delhi Ranch Conservation Easement covers 27,340 acres across Las Animas, Otero, and Pueblo counties.

Photo by Colorado Lottery
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter with an extensive background in covering the NBA and Denver Nuggets. T.J. is Southern California native who provides news and analysis on the legal gambling industry across a number of Catena Media's regional US sites.

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