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More Than $4 Million Awarded In Trail, Local Park Grants
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission Aug. 23 approved $3.66 million to fund 41 recreational trail projects and $797,231 for small community grants for 18 communities across the state.
Of the 18 small communities approved for grant monies, only seven received less than the maximum $50,000 grant. Those receiving $50,000 grants to help develop community parks were: Coolidge, Driscoll, Farmersville, Fort Bend, Gladewater, Lamesa, Marble Falls, Odem, Tuscola, Vernon and Windthorst. Community grants ranging from $18,982 to $44,548 were awarded to: Brownfield, Carmine, Clarendon, Edgewood, Edna, Martindale and Rockdale.
The Small Community Program provides grants reimbursing 50 percent of the cost, up to a maximum of $50,000, to political subdivisions responsible for providing public recreation services to their citizens. Small communities are classified as communities with a population of 20,000 or less. The initiative is funded through the Texas Recreation and Parks Account grant program, established in 1993 by the Texas Legislature to direct a portion of the state sales tax collected on sporting goods for basic outdoor recreation.
Dozens of communities throughout the state, the U.S. Forest Service and four Texas state parks will receive more than $3 million in National Recreational Trails Grant monies. In all, 58 trail projects totaling $5.5 million in federal funds were submitted to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for consideration.
Two motorized trail projects, including $520,000 to the U.S. Forest Service to renovate 85 miles of trail in the Sam Houston National Forest, received funding approval from the Commission. The Texas Forest Service’s request for $100,000 for a trailhead, signage and planning for a motorized trail in the E.O. Siecke State Forest in Jasper County also won approval. A federal requirement of the trail fund is that 30 percent of the funds be spent on motorized recreational trail projects and 30 percent on non-motorized trail projects, with the remaining 40 percent discretionary.
Four Texas state parks receiving approval for trails funding were: Big Bend Ranch State Park ($369,986) for jeep trail improvements; Devils River State Natural Area ($48,000) for development of a hike & bike trail; Cooper Lake State Park ($76,000) for equestrian trails renovation and new corrals; and Huntsville State Park ($75,000) for hike & bike trail renovations.
The Texas Trails Network will receive $18,000 in national trail grant monies to plan for a statewide trails conference in The Woodlands. A $100,000 grant was awarded to The Texas Bicycle Coalition for a 10.3 mile rails-to-trails project in Bastrop County.
Five Austin area communities received national grant funding for non-motorized trails: $100,000 to build the .4 mile Spring Lake Trail at the Texas Rivers Center in San Marcos; $100,000 to develop the 1.7 mile Lost Pines Hike & Bike trail in Bastrop County; $45,016 to build the crushed granite Mountain Creek Trail in Pflugerville; and $48,000 and $40,892 to build the El Camino Real Recreational Trail and the Ringtail Ridge Trail in San Marcos.
Several Dallas/Fort Worth area communities received national trail grant funding for non-motorized trails: $99,686 for the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center Trail in Dallas County; $46,020 for the Pilot Knoll Horse and Hiking Trail in Denton County; and $99,704 to implement Phase II of the Trinity Trails in Collin County.
A number of recreation trail grant projects in the Houston area received funding for non-motorized trails: $45,344 for the City of Conroe’s Carl Barton Jr. Park Trail; $82,957 to reconnect the Greenspoint Trails in Harris County; $96,000 for another Harris County project, the Dixie Farm Park Trail; two $100,000 grants to the City of Houston for construction of ADA trails at the Metropolitan Center and the Houston Arboretum; $100,000 for a new trail along Mary’s Creek in Pearland; $100,000 for the Cypress Creek Hike & Bike Trail project in Harris County; and $100,000 to develop the Keegans Bayou Hike & Bike Trail.
Two San Antonio area communities received national trails grant funding for trails projects: $59,499 for the Leon Valley Connectivity Trail and $51,800 for the City of Schertz Recreational Trail.
The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) comes from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases for off-road recreational vehicles, such as off-road motorcycles and four-wheelers. NRFT provides funding for projects that create new and maintain existing motorized and non-motorized recreational trails.
The Federal Highway Administration administers the funds and distributes them to states via a formula that takes into account state population and sales of fuel for off-road recreational vehicles. Nationwide, the program was appropriated $75 million for the current federal fiscal year (FY2007); Texas' share of these funds is $3.4. In addition, because some prior trail projects were completed under budget, $361,000 became available for reallocation this year
Each project awarded NRFT funds is reviewed by a nine-member Texas Trails Advisory Board and ranked based on the quality of the project, its cost effectiveness, its impact on recreational trail opportunities and geographic distribution of funds.
In March 2007, a 90-day call for proposals was issued. The 41 projects approved were selected from 58 submitted proposals requesting more than $5.5 million in funds.
In addition to recreational trail project funding for major metro areas mentioned above, the Commission also approved funding for the following counties:
- Angelina — $12,400 for the Texas Forestry Museum’s Urban Wildscape Trail
- Bee — $37,813 for the Poesta Creek Walking Trail in Beeville
- Calhoun — $70,000 for the Lighthouse Beach Trail in Port Lavaca
- Cameron — $100,000 for the Laguna Vista Park Trail in Laguna Vista
- Cameron — $34,681 for the Washington Park Trail in Port Lavaca
- El Paso — $77,956 for the Riverbend Trail in the City of El Paso
- Fannin — $16, 554 for the Lake Fannin Trail
- Fannin — $45,800 for the Caddo Grassland Multi-use Trails
- Hidalgo — $100,000 for the Hidalgo County Trails
- Hidalgo — $64,160 for The Wild Path to Learning project at the Lower Rio Grande Nature Center in Weslaco
- Lamar — $99,991 for the Trail de Paris Extension in the City of Paris
- Nacogdoches — $48,000 for the Banita Creek North Trail in the City of Nacogdoches
- Rusk — $96,880 for the Fair Park Trail in Henderson
- Smith — $99,920 for the Faulkner Park Trail in Lindale
- Webb — $36,680 for the Paso del Indio Nature Trail at Laredo Community College
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department administers the Recreation and Parks Account program and uses a priority scoring system to determine which projects are eligible to receive matching grant funds for recreational projects. For more information on local park grants, call the Recreation Grants division of Texas Parks and Wildlife at (512) 912-7124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local governments such as cities, counties, municipal utility districts and water districts depend on these grants to develop public outdoor recreation facilities for playgrounds, sports, trails, hunting, fishing, aquatic activities, camping and beautification.
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