Not quite $1 million is being dispensed for 14 projects around the country that will improve trails and trailheads that tie national historic and scenic trails to national parks and other federal lands.
The money, flowing through the 2012 Connect Trails to Parks Awards, will "restore or improve existing trails and trailhead connections, provide better wayside and interpretive services, encourage innovative educational services, support bridge and trailhead designs, and provide planning services for important trail gateway," according to the National Park Service, which administers the program.
Funding will help places such as the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee where $100,000 will be used to develop education programming, and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin where $31,845 will be spent on trail construction and upgrades.
“We really want people to get up, get out, and enjoy the outdoors,” said Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “It is vital for physical and mental well-being. These trail projects will provide additional places to recreate and improve access to existing parks and other green spaces.”
Many of the projects reflect Park Service priorities such as expanding outreach, connecting to youth, enhancing urban recreation, promoting healthy lifestyles, and upgrading interpretive materials as outlined in the agency’s A Call To Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement.
In addition to operating 397 parks across the United States and its territories, the Park Service plays a vital role in overseeing the 52,000-mile National Trails System.
The trails system dates from 1968 legislation that created the Appalachian and Pacific Crest national scenic trails. Today, the National Trails System includes 11 national scenic trails (NSTs), 19 national historic trails (NHTs), and more than 1,150 national recreation trails (NRTs).
The Connect Trails to Parks program is designed to increase awareness, appreciation, and use of the nation’s federally-designated system of trails. The years from 2008 to 2018 have been declared A Decade for the National Trails ramping up to the trails system's 50th anniversary in 2018. Many of these projects will help specific trails and their related federal facilities to achieve goals associated with this commemorative decade.
Here's a breakdown of the funding grants, according to the Park Service:
- 2012 Connect Trails to Parks Project Awards StatesAward Project Title Trail(s) Park or Other Federal Area Alabama Mississippi Tennessee$100,000Develop Natchez Trace NST Education ProgramNatchez Trace NSTNatchez Trace Parkway Connecticut Massachusetts Vermont$83,200Landscape Painting on the New England NSTNew England NST Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP, Weir Farm NHS, Thomas Cole NHS Connecticut Georgia Maine Maryland Massachusetts New Hampshire New Jersey New York North Carolina Pennsylvania Tennessee Vermont Virginia West Virginia$64,200Implement Appalachian Trail Leave No Trace InitiativeAppalachian NST 6 NPS park units, 8 national forests North Dakota Broadcast network + Amtrak programs$64,500Distance Learning Along the Lewis & Clark NHTLewis & Clark NHT Ft. Union Trading Post NHS, Knife River Indian Villages NHS Massachusetts Connecticut$49,920Creative Youth Engagement on the New England NSTNew England NSTMarsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP + 3 other NPS sites Minnesota$99,840Shingobee Connection Trail/Pumphouse Bay BridgeNorth Country NSTChippewa National Forest Montana North Dakota South Dakota$19,552 Interpreting Indian Language & Culture on the Lewis & Clark TrailLewis & Clark NHT Ft. Union Trading Post NHS, Knife River Indian Villages NHS Utah$99,996Interpretation at Lions Park Transit and Trail HubOld Spanish NHTArches National Park Utah$36,644Non-Motorized Pathway Along the Old Spanish NHT at MoabOld Spanish NHTArches National Park Virginia$43,543Capt. John Smith Chesapeake NHT / James River AssetsCapt. John Smith NHT Presquile NWR, Colonial NHP, Petersburg NB, Richmond NB, James River NWR Virginia Washington, DC$98,800Implement Signage Program in Virginia and DC Potomac Heritage NST, Star-Spangled Banner NHT National Mall and Monuments, Rock Creek Park, Nat. Capital Parks-East Washington, DC$84,760DC Park Prescriptions Initiative Potomac Heritage NST, Star-Spangled Banner NHT, Capt. John Smith Chesapeake NHTDC Area Parks, including Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP Wisconsin$57,200Children’s TV Program About the Ice Age TrailIce Age NSTIce Age Reserve Units Wisconsin$31,845Trail Construction and Upgrades, Ice Age NSTIce Age NSTIce Age Reserve Units