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Revitalizing a 71-mile regional gem

High Line Canal Conservancy unveils ‘Great Lengths Campaign’ following GOCO award.

Last month, the High Line Canal Conservancy announced its “Great Lengths for the High Line,” a $33 million campaign poised to revitalize one of the region's most cherished resources. 

This investment leverages public funding for a total investment of $100 million in the canal over five years, breathing new life into the 71-mile High Line Canal and ensuring its preservation, protection and enhancement for generations to come.

A sign along the High Line Canal trail in Aurora installed in 2021 provides a map to help trail users navigate the corridor. Photo credit: Denver Water.

In a significant leap toward this goal, the nonprofit on March 15 announced a $7 million contribution from Great Outdoors Colorado, often referred to as GOCO. 

The conservancy said the extraordinary award from GOCO adds to the significant philanthropic support from donors across Colorado to date, including $10 million from Denver Water, and leaves the conservancy with a remaining $1 million to raise. 

Learn more about the work behind the transformation of the High Line Canal. 

Completion of the campaign will ensure that the community vision for the canal is realized through more than 30 prioritized trail projects. The GOCO grant brings the conservancy closer to its goal, but there is still a great deal of work to be done.   

“For decades, the future of the historic High Line Canal has been in jeopardy. Today, with tremendous public and private investment, we can immediately begin fulfilling the community’s vision for the canal and, together with our many partners, ensure the High Line Canal will be improved and protected as a centerpiece of our region’s park system,” said Harriet Crittenden LaMair, CEO of the High Line Canal Conservancy. 

The High Line Canal is an irrigation ditch built in the 1880s. Denver Water still uses the canal to deliver irrigation water to customers when conditions allow. Photo credit: Denver Water.

Formed in 2014 to revitalize Denver Water’s historic 71-mile irrigation delivery system into one of the nation's longest continuous urban trails, the High Line Canal Conservancy aims to enhance trail users' experience and improve the region's environmental health.

“Denver Water has a century-old canal that has outlived its usefulness as an irrigation canal,” said Alan Salazar, CEO/Manager of Denver Water. 

“We wanted to transform the canal into a recreational and environmental crown jewel for the region. And, after years of building partnerships with the help of our governmental partners and the leadership from the High Line Canal Conservancy, today, with GOCO’s investment, we celebrate a giant leap toward this vision. With $32 million in private funds raised by the conservancy and matching funding from local partners and Denver Water, we are thrilled to help make this vision a reality for our region,” Salazar said.

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In partnership with local jurisdictions and Denver Water, the Great Lengths campaign will support the conservancy’s work to improve safety, ecological sustainability, community vitality, and equitable access along the High Line Canal, which meanders continuously from Waterton Canyon in Littleton to the high plains near Denver International Airport.

Over the past seven years, the conservancy and its partners have engaged communities across the region to develop a comprehensive plan, “The Plan for the High Line Canal,” to protect and enhance the trail. 

Today, as one of the most exciting and largest urban trail projects in the country, the transformation of the canal with enriched landscape, safer crossings, improved access, better signage, and areas for gathering, play and education is becoming a reality. 

The High Line Canal Conservancy in March announced its “Great Lengths for the High Line,” a $33 million campaign aimed at reimagining the historic canal as one of the nation’s premier linear parks. Image credit: High Line Canal Conservancy.

“We owe our progress to the more than 10,000 community members across the region — countless volunteers, youth and leaders — that have participated and underscored the importance of safety, connectivity, access and comfort along the Canal,” said LaMair. 

“Now we look forward to High Line Canal users joining our Great Lengths for the High Line fundraising campaign, so this great work continues for decades to come.”

Projects along the canal will be implemented in partnership with the local governments, including counties, cities and special districts. No donation is too small and can be made by logging on to

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“We are grateful for this much-needed investment and commitment to improving accessibility and quality of life for residents across our region,” says Arapahoe County Board Chair Carrie Warren-Gully. 

“The county has long been a leading partner in efforts to enhance the High Line Canal corridor. This new investment reinforces the power of collaboration to ensure future generations can enjoy this treasured resource, especially along a stretch of the canal that has been historically underserved and underfunded. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get the work done.”

The High Line Canal trail as it winds along the Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve south of Belleview Avenue in Greenwood Village. Photo credit: Evan Anderman/High Line Canal Conservancy.

Serving more than 1 million trail users annually across 11 jurisdictions, the canal traverses some of the most diverse communities in the state. The 860-acre canal connects 24 schools, hundreds of neighborhoods, and millions of people to more than 8,000 acres of open space. 

“Investing in the Great Lengths Campaign is a wonderful way to improve the canal not just in your own community — but across all communities. It’s an opportunity for individuals to leverage their philanthropic dollars in a public-private partnership to create a legacy for generations to come,” said Tom and Margie Gart, co-chairs of the Great Lengths Campaign Committee.