The Baker-Polito Administration announced nearly $4 million in grant funding to support 52 trail projects across the Commonwealth as part of the MassTrails Grant Program.

The grants will assist the construction, maintenance, and improvements for a variety of public trails across the Commonwealth, including hiking trails, bikeways, and shared-use paths.

The announcement was made by Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who joined Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, Department of Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery, and state and local officials at the Army Corps of Engineers Cape Cod Canal Visitors Center in Sandwich

“Massachusetts has a vast network of public trails which connect communities and regions together, providing recreation, exercise, and tremendous access to the natural world, and this funding offers an excellent opportunity to continue building and expanding that network and support new opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We continue to see residents taking a greater interest in the great outdoors, and through our plan to put federal relief funding to immediate use in cities and towns across the Commonwealth, our Administration is proposing to direct $100 million in parks and open spaces, including the expansion of Massachusetts’ long distance trail network.”

“Trails are important community resources that improve quality of life by offering access to parks, reservations, forests, and beaches throughout the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The MassTrails Grant Program is providing critical funds for projects from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, enabling our local partners to continue their efforts to improve trail infrastructure by creating new segments and enhancing existing trails for the public to enjoy.”

The MassTrails Grant Program supports projects that build public-private partnerships to maintain and improve existing trails and construct new ones across the state. This year’s projects will help communities address trail drainage, develop new trails, expand universal access, support the construction of boardwalks and bridges, design and install new signage, acquire new land for trails, and expand and maintain biking trails.

“We’ve seen an explosion of interest in the great outdoors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with residents and families across the Commonwealth exploring our parks, trail networks, and open spaces,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These MassTrails projects are just one example of the significant investments that could be made to expand and improve access to outdoor recreation and open space through the Administration’s federal ARPA spending proposal, especially for residents in communities hit hard by the pandemic.”

“MassTrails grants support the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to providing a safe and equitable transportation network to advance the Commonwealth’s transit, economic, climate and public health goals,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “Grant money will go toward placemaking projects which offer new opportunities for economic development and connection in downtowns or community centers – including new and expanded outdoor spaces for dining, gathering and mobility.”

The MassTrails Grant Program is funded through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) capital budget, and from the motor fuel excise tax on off-road vehicles, including ATVs 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).

“The Department of Conservation and Recreation is proud to be the steward of nearly half-a-million acres of public land that encompass hundreds of trails stretching for thousands of miles,” said DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “The Baker-Polito Administration actively seeks to foster strong relationships between the state, local leaders, and organizations through programs and initiatives like the MassTrails Grant Program to further advance priorities that have positive impacts on local communities and regions.”

All MassTrails Grant Program applications are reviewed in consultation with an inter-agency MassTrails Team and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB). The program provides important funding for project development, design, and construction of shared-use pathways, which facilitate connections to where people live, work, and recreate. These funds are focused on construction and maintenance of recreational trails of all types and uses, including both motorized and non-motorized activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, paddling, snowmobiling, and recreational off-highway vehicle riding.

“Sandwich has been working for more than a decade to design and construct a shared use pedestrian path along Service Road from Exit 2 off the mid-Cape highway to the Barnstable town line,” said Sandwich Town Manager George Dunham. “This path will ultimately connect to the Cape Cod Rail Trail and to the Cape Cod Canal. Our MassTrails grant will help us plan the most difficult section connecting the Canal pedestrian path to Route 130 and will eventually allow for safe, pedestrian access from the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown. We can’t thank the Department of Conservation & Recreation and the Governor’s Office enough for their support and funding.”

“I am thrilled to learn that the Town of Sandwich has been selected as a recipient of a 2021 MassTrails grant,” said State Representative Steven Xiarhos (R- Barnstable). “The ability to be able to safely walk, run, bike, and exercise outdoors is so important; particularly after the last year when it was difficult for many to leave their homes. I am grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration and the Department of Conservation and Recreation for including our community in this round of grants.”

“With this round of MassTrails grants, my communities will be able to continue to develop our local trail system and allow more of our residents to participate actively in the outdoors while also opening up new areas for the public to enjoy,” said State Senator Susan L. Moran (D-Falmouth). “This funding is vital to using a shared path from Route 130 to Cape Cod Canal Bikeway that will allow bikers and walkers to use this trail in a safe way. Thank you to the Town of Sandwich and the Sandwich Bikeways & Pedestrian Committee for their tireless work and who have advocated to make this a reality.”

This year’s MassTrails Grant projects are located in the following municipalities: Adams, Arlington, Athol, Barre, Becket, Belchertown, Bernardston, Brewster, Buckland, Colrain, East Boston, Easton, Everett, Fall River, Foxborough, Franklin, Freetown, Gardner, Gill, Granville, Great Barrington, Hardwick, Harvard, Hawley, Haydenville, Holden, Hubbardston, Lakeville, Lawrence, Lee, Leicester, Lenox, Leyden, Malden, Medford, Medway, Middleton, North Adams, North Brookfield, Northampton, Norwell, Orange, Pittsfield, Plainfield, Sandisfield, Sandwich, Savoy, Shrewsbury, Southampton, Springfield, Sturbridge, Sunderland, Templeton, Ware, Washington, Westborough, Westfield, Westford, Williamsburg, Windsor, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester, Wrentham. For a full list and brief description of each of the 52 projects receiving funding, please visit the MassTrails Grants webpage.

In June 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration re-filed its plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. As part of the Administration’s proposal to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color, Governor Baker would direct $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including $100 million for parks, recreation, and open spaces. These funds would support investments in public lands, as well as lands specifically conserved for public access including parks, lakes, rivers, trails, beaches, fishing piers, boat ramps, and other waterways. Funding would be dedicated to projects that expand, enhance, and modernize the Commonwealth’s park facilities to steward and conserve natural resources, and to improve the resilience of natural and working lands, plants, and wildlife in the Commonwealth.