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Lottery proceeds have funded almost all of the Peaks to Plains Trail, which stretches 65 miles from Loveland to Golden. Photo by William Rochfort

How Your Hike was Made Possible by the Colorado Lottery

Billions of dollars from lottery proceeds have gone toward preserving and enhancing Colorado's wilderness.

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The odds of winning the Colorado Lottery’s Powerball game are right around one in 292 million. Because you are more likely to become president of the United States, your nominal expenditure really just lets you rent the dream of a jet-setting, job-free life—but it’s also a reliable way to bolster the Centennial State. Since 1992, the majority of the proceeds from your lotto tickets have been set aside for preserving—or enhancing—our Instagram-worthy wildlife, trails, parks, and other open spaces. (A small portion has also gone toward public schools in recent years.) We’re not talking about petty cash here: So far, Colorado’s great outdoors has reaped the benefits of close to $2.6 billion from lottery sales, and about 20 percent of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s annual budget comes from lottery proceeds. That aid could come to an end, though, if state legislators don’t reauthorize the lottery, a process that begins this month. Technically, lawmakers have six years to reapprove the program. Until then, we’ll just keep enjoying our 900-plus miles of lottery-funded trails, among them portions of the Cherry Creek and South Platte River paths. That’s what we call living—not renting—the Colorado dream.

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