- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $3.9 Million for 75 Trail Projects
Olivia Dorrance, Press Secretary
BOSTON — Recognizing the benefits trail networks provide residents and communities, the Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $3,940,000 in grants to fund design, construction, and maintenance for 75 trail projects throughout the Commonwealth. The grants, which will benefit projects located in over 60 communities, are being awarded through the Recreational Trails Program and state capital funds.
“The Commonwealth’s network of trails offer residents and visitors outdoor recreational opportunities, while also serving as connections between regions and communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants will aid local organizations, municipalities, and other stakeholders in their efforts to build and maintain trails throughout Massachusetts.”
“Massachusetts is home to thousands of miles of trails, and by providing these critical funds, our administration is able to make significant progress in further improving our trail system,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our Administration continues to foster partnerships with local leaders throughout Massachusetts to increase public access to the Commonwealth’s vast natural resources.”
The grants are funded by both federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds and state capital funds. Federal RTP funds are received directly from the motor fuel excise tax on off-road vehicles including ATVs and snowmobiles, and are provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Surface Transportation Act, in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). All RTP grant applications have been reviewed by the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB), which is an independent volunteer board appointed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner.
As part of the Administration’s commitment to expand and connect trail networks across the state, Governor Charlie Baker announced in June 2017 that the RTP budget would be increased by 60 percent. The grants announced today are made possible by an additional increase in RTP funding to $2.8 million, with the remainder coming from state funds.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to ensuring residents in every region of the state are provided with excellent opportunities to get outside and enjoy the Commonwealth’s natural resources,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “These funds will support efforts to increase access to our shared natural resources, and enable the public to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle.”
In June 2017, the Baker-Polito Administration established a Trails Initiative and Trails Team, which consists of key staff from agencies with responsibility for trail work, including the DCR, MassDOT, and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). The Trails Team is charged with partnering with communities and others that are interested in trail projects to complete trail networks statewide.
RTP grants can be used for improvements to long-distance trails, rail trail development, ATV trail maintenance, the creation and/or maintenance of municipally owned trails, among other activities. Each recipient must match their awarded grant with a minimum of 20 percent in funding or in-kind services for the designated project.
“Contained within the Massachusetts state park system are nearly 4,000 miles of trails that provide the public with exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy. “The DCR is proud to support the Baker-Polito Administration’s work to enhance the state’s networks of trails, and the Department looks forward to continuing our strong partnerships with local communities, advocacy groups, the public, and other key stakeholders to increase important access.”
The trail projects will provide important benefits to communities and regions, such as enhancing recreational opportunities; strengthening regional and community bonds; increasing home property values; attracting additional tourists; providing alternative motor vehicle transportation opportunities; and supporting small businesses; while also improving access to the natural world.
Projects are located within the following municipalities: Ashland, Belchertown, Bernardston, Billerica, Boston, Boxborough, Brewster, Cambridge, Charlemont, Chatham, Cheshire, Chesterfield, Colrain, Conway, Dennis, East Otis, Everett, Fitchburg, Foxboro, Framingham, Gloucester, Great Barrington, Hawley, Holden, Ipswich, Lancaster, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Medfield, Medford, Methuen, Montague, New Bedford, Newburyport, Newton, North Easton, Northampton, Oakham, Peabody, Pelham, Pembroke, Phillipston, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Princeton, Reading, Rockland, Rutland, Sandisfield, Sandwich, Saugus, Savoy, Southwick, Stoneham, Sudbury, Topsfield, Uxbridge, Ware, Wareham, Westborough, Weston, Weymouth, Williamstown, Winthrop, and Worcester. A full list and brief description of each of the 75 projects receiving a grant can be found on the Recreational Trails Program webpage.
“We are working to make western Massachusetts a premiere destination for outdoor recreational activities, and these awards will further that effort,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield). “Whether you are walking, hiking, mountain biking or snowmobiling I’m thrilled these regional groups are partnering with DCR to build and maintain excellent multi-use trails in the Berkshires and across western Mass.”
“Greenspaces are vital to our communities, and this grant will enable Holden and West Boylston to further improve and extend our Rail Trail system, which is used by residents throughout Central Massachusetts,” said State Senator Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “Expanding access to and preserving our Commonwealth’s expansive natural resources ensures they will be enjoyed by generations to come.”
“I am delighted that Wachusett Greenways has been awarded this grant and wish to congratulate them on this achievement,” said State Representative Kim Ferguson (R-Holden). “As a frequent Rail Trail user, I know firsthand the value of this wonderful area and I am excited to see this project move forward. I wish to thank the folks at Wachusett Greenways for all the work they do throughout the year, as well as the Baker-Polito administration, Secretary Beaton, and DCR for this funding.”
“The outdoor recreational options in Berkshire County are great for all of our residents, but they also have great potential as an economic sector in our economy,” said State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield). “We all know that tourists flock here for the cultural attractions. As we make investments in trail-making and maintenance, we are beginning to expand the opportunities for the outdoor recreational economy to blossom here as well.”
Since the Baker-Polito Administration came into office, approximately 150 miles of new trails have been designed, planned, funded, and/or completed with trail rehabilitation and repair also becoming a major priority. Additional information can be found by visiting the Recreational Trails Program webpage.