Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and the Montezuma Land Conservancy are partnering with a new nature center in Dolores to spread the word about the value of the outdoors, literature and writing.
Land Conservancy has received a $264,560 grant from GOCO to conserve The Nature Center at Butler Corners, located off County Road 31, north of Dolores at the border of the San Juan National Forest.
The project will put a conservation easement on the 263-acre property north of Dolores owned by Kathy Butler, a retired teacher and Dolores librarian.
“I want kids to learn to respect nature, learn about wildlife and get outdoors more,” she said of her motivation to start the center.
Butler has begun to develop the property into a nature center and will use the proceeds from the conservation transaction to expand opportunities for local kids to get outside.
Several hiking trails and a temporary outdoor classroom are already in place and serving school groups and local families.
Montezuma Land Conservancy foresees partnering with The Nature Center as part of its Community Conservation Initiative. The initiative, also funded by GOCO with a previous grant, will engage the community to increase local awareness for conservation efforts.
MLC executive director Jon Leibowitz said the nature center project may also partner with the Montezuma Inspire Coalition, part of GOCO’s $25 million Inspire Initiative working to break down barriers for kids to get outside.
“This easement and nature center are a perfect fit for Land Conservancy’s mission of conservation and outdoor education,” he said.
Local teachers and conservation groups are planning field trips to the new nature center, Butler said.
As part of its outdoor education program the center plans to have snowshoe tours and star-gazing programs, in addition to writing programs.
“I’m so excited. I’ve always wanted to have an educational use for the family ranch, and this is a perfect fit,” she said.
Butler is a devoted writer and has completed eight children’s novels she is working on publishing.
To date, GOCO has invested $9.2 million in Montezuma County and has conserved more than 4,800 acres of land in the county.
GOCO funding has supported Land Conservancy’s $6.7 million “legacy” project to conserve land along the San Juan Skyway in addition to a number of local outdoor recreation projects in Cortez, Dolores, Mancos and other nearby communities. Projects include Cortez’s ballfields and municipal pool, Ron Kotarski Jr. Memorial Playground in Dolores, and Cottonwood Park in Mancos.
Montezuma County was also named a GOCO Inspire community and will be part of a $25 million initiative to help kids get outside.