$1.5 billion Powerball helped drive record distributions for conservation projects
People buy Powerball lottery tickets in hopes of winning the $1.5 billion jackpot at Safeway on January 12, 2016 in Estes Park.
Colorado this week gave more than $14.3 million in conservation funds drawn from Lottery purchases to a variety of governments and special districts across the state, the final distribution for the year, bringing to nearly $60 million the total for 2016.
The money is tied to the state’s Conservation Trust Fund, established for governments to pay for park and recreation services. The total is the largest amount distributed in at least the last five years, state officials said, and nearly $10 million more than last year.
The $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot in January 2016 helped push the trust fund distribution in June to more than $20 million, a record, according to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs that doles out the funds each quarter.
In all, 476 counties, cities, towns and special districts received portions of the funds, which are 40 percent of the net proceeds the Colorado Lottery receives in its own games, as well as those it participates in with other states, such as Powerball.
Participating agencies must apply for the program and show they have a certified trust fund that will pay for the acquisition, development and maintenance of conservation sites, or the capital improvement or maintenance of public recreation sites such as parks and open spaces.
Distribution is based on population, so areas such as Denver and the Front Range tend to receive larger amounts of the funds than smaller communities across the state.
For instance, governments in Baca County this quarter received just $15,000 and Dolores County got about $5,000, while Denver received nearly $1.8 million and governments in Arapahoe County got $1.6 million.
Colorado began participating in the Powerball game in 2001 and sharing in the proceeds.
Yet Coloradans have won the monthly drawing just twice: in 2014 when a Western Slope couple claimed a $90 million prize, and in 2007 when a Polish immigrant couple in Denver won a $20 million prize.