OLYMPIA – Backcountry trails in 16 counties got a boost this week when the Recreation and Conservation Office announced grants totaling nearly $1.4 million.
The grants from the federally funded Recreational Trails Program support rehabilitation and maintenance of backcountry trails, as well as projects to educate trail users about protecting the environment and having a safe experience.
Projects in the following counties were approved for funding. Project Details.
“Walking and hiking are the most popular outdoor activities in Washington, according to our surveys,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), which administers the grants. “These grants provide funding to maintain trails in some of the more remote areas, making it easier and safer for people to enjoy Washington’s great outdoors.”
RCO surveys peg the number of Washingtonians who recreate in our backcountry at 33 percent, including those who hike or venture into the backcountry on bicycles, horses, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, four-wheel drive vehicles, snowshoes, cross-country skis and snowmobiles.
Last year, RCO received 137 grant proposals for trail projects requesting more than $4.3 million. About
25 percent of these projects will receive funding. In January, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board was able to award $608,000 to 10 of these projects and this new award adds another 34 projects to the list that will receive funding.
“The competition for these grants is very high,” Cottingham said. “That means that only the best projects get funded. Keeping trails well maintained takes the resources of many different groups, including the grant applicants themselves who are contributing $2.9 million in matching resources and volunteer hours toward these projects. It’s great to see that kind of commitment to keeping Washington a great place to live and play.”
Projects are evaluated on criteria including need, project design, cost-effectiveness, and community support by a committee of trail experts. RCO manages the distribution of the federal funding, which comes from federal gasoline taxes.
The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board was established in 1964 to finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state.