Colrain, Conway clubs, DCR win grants for trail projects

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Colrain Sno-Drifters and the Conway snowmobile clubs and state park officials based in Erving will be getting help in trail grooming this winter from state grants awarded Tuesday for community trail projects.

The Colrain Sno-Drifters won a $34,370 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant, with $11,670 in matching funds, to replace a 1993 Suzuki Mini Truck with a new Kubota RTV X100 utility vehicle. The new vehicle will reduce repair costs, increase efficiency and be used to maintain snowmobile trails.

The Conway Snowmobile Club was awarded $17,987, with $4,997 in matching funds, to buy equipment attachments for a snow-grooming power unit that had been purchased under a 2016 RTP grant. The additional equipment will help in grooming operations on over 120 miles of snowmobile trails that connect four bordering towns and run through two state forests.

Also, Department of Conservation and Recreation officials who maintain winter trails in the Erving, Warwick, Northfield and Mount Grace state forests will use their $12,600 grant, plus $3,150 in matching funds, to buy a new, efficient snowmobile to replace old equipment used to groom those trails.

These three grant were included in $1.8 million given out by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker to 49 community trail projects throughout the state. Altogether, the grants will improve over 150 miles of existing recreational trails within the statewide trail network, while constructing at least 10 miles of new trails.

Besides snowmobile trails, many of the grants awarded outside of Franklin County are for the construction and maintenance of hiking trails, bikeways, and off-road vehicle trails.

Baker had announced in July that the RTP budget would be increased by 60 percent.

“Massachusetts is home to hundreds of miles of trails offering healthy, outdoor recreational and transit opportunities, and today’s awards will help communities increase accessibility and build and maintain many more,” he said.

The grant funding comes from the motor fuel excise tax on off-road vehicles, including ATVs and snowmobiles, and is provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It is coordinated by the state Department of Transportation. Grant applications are reviewed by an independent volunteer advisory board.

The grants may be used to improve long-distance trails and rail trail development, ATV trail maintenance, and municipally owned trails. This year’s trail improvements include trail drainage, surfacing and erosion control, signs, kiosks, maps and brochures, and purchase of trail maintenance equipment. Each grant must be met with a match of at least 20 percent in money or in-kind services. This year’s matching funds total at least $1.7 million.