This week the Baker-Polito Administration announced $5 million in MassTrails Grants to 71 projects throughout the Commonwealth. The grants are designed to provide assistance for the construction, maintenance, and improvements for a variety of public trails throughout the state trails system, such as hiking trails, bikeways, and shared-use paths.

Governor Charlie Baker said the MassTrails Grants “will aid in the improvement of these trails and assist in the creation of new sections for the public to enjoy. The MassTrails Grants serve as a great example of our administration’s dedication to ensuring that the Commonwealth’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources remain accessible for years to come.”

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who made the announcement in Lowell, said the administration is proud to prioritize the state trails system, which builds community pride, connects municipalities, and improves quality of life throughout Massachusetts.  By working in partnership to support these 71 trail projects, we are able to invest in the enhancement of our communities, and ensure natural resources are protected and available for all to appreciate and enjoy.”

MassTrails Grants focus on the improvement of existing trails, the construction of new trails, and the maintenance of the statewide trail system. This year’s projects include facility landscaping and amenities installation; land surveys and design plans; evaluation of off-road bikeway connections; culvert repair and gradient restoration; hiring of trail staff; structure construction; installation and maintenance of directional and interpretive trail signage; development and creation of GIS mapping and trails guides; purchasing of trail maintenance equipment; and upgrading existing trails to accessible trail standards.

Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said the 2019 grants “showcase diverse trail projects throughout Massachusetts, and will ultimately increase outdoor recreational opportunities and encourage residents and visitors to lead healthy active lifestyles. The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to supporting municipalities and local organizations to achieve our shared goal to conserve and protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources while also increasing access to the natural world around us.”

Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said, “The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased to continue working with residents, community leaders, and other stakeholders to design and build a connected network of shared-use paths for mobility and recreation throughout the Commonwealth,”  “These grant awards will allow continued investments in our trail networks, closing gaps that exist, expanding the shared-use path network, and enabling more members of the public to reach destinations in a safe, efficient, and healthy manner.”

Funding for MassTrails Grants comes from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) capital budget, and from the motor fuel excise tax on off-road vehicles including ATV’s and snowmobiles, which is provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Surface Transportation Act, in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

All MassTrails Grant applications have been reviewed in consultation with an inter-agency MassTrails Team and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB). Additionally, each recipient matches awarded grants with a minimum of twenty percent in funding or in-kind services for the designated project. This year’s total investment, including matching funds, is approximately $14 million. In order to meet their funding obligation, an organization is able to utilize a variety of methods to fund at least twenty percent of the project’s total cost to receive the grant. Methods include in-kind labor and professional services, material donations, use of equipment, or a cash match. Funding is made available to registered non-profits and municipal, state, and federal agencies.

Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) said, “We must continue to take concrete steps to ensure our open space and recreational opportunities remain accessible for future generations to come.  These MassTrails Grants will go a long way in helping our communities utilize their open space and bring benefits to local communities while helping advance our broader environmental goals in the Commonwealth.”

State Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth) said, “The trails and paths supported by these grants are assets to our economy that attract visitors and local residents to enjoy the natural beauty of Plymouth and Cape Cod. These projects are extremely important to these communities, and I am excited that the Administration’s continued partnership will allow them to be enjoyed by many future generations.”

State Senator Ed Kennedy (D-Lowell) said,  “Creating the Connector Trail to connect the Concord River Greenway to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail has long been a priority of the city of Lowell as we continue to work to provide accessible opportunities both for recreation and pedestrian traffic, getting more people out of their cars and onto their feet. Showcasing aerosol art along the path makes for a unique and interesting outdoor art gallery for all to enjoy. I am looking forward to the completion of this exciting project.”

A full list and brief description of each of the 71 projects receiving a grant can be found on the MassTrails Grants webpage.