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Funding ideas from across the US

Get creative! That's the advice that successful trails activists invariably give. Finding funds for trails and conservation projects is the ultimate creative challenge. Here are some suggestions on trail funding from across the nation:

Adventure Cycling has started a "Trailblazer" program for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. So far donors have "purchased" 216 miles of the route at $100 per mile. Proceeds will go toward developing, mapping, and publicizing the off-pavement touring route that follows the Continental Divide from Montana to New Mexico.

The Howell Wetlands Outdoor Education Center of Evansville, Indiana, is building a half-mile boardwalk from recycled-plastic lumber. Indiana Power and Light Co. gave $5,000. The utility has contributed $147,000 to environmentally-oriented projects in the last three years. Another $10,000 came from the Wal-Mart Foundation.

Another utility company involved in trails is the Salt River Project, which is helping the Arizona Trail with a $3,400 grant to produce directional and interpretive signs. Other corporate partners for the Arizona Trail are Hughes Missile Systems, BHP Copper, and Pace American, Inc.

A pivotal 40-acre section of the Ice Age Trail between the cities of Madison and Verona, Wisconsin, has been acquired with the help of the Madison Area Youth Soccer Association. The group's payments over 50 years for leasing 30 acres of the parcel for a soccer complex will cover a substantial part of the $600,000 acquisition [from Trust for Public Land publication Greensense]

Mitigation requirements for developments and highway projects are routine, but an unusual twist helped fund the Clear Creek Greenway near Golden, Colorado. After a massive beer spill into the creek by Coors Brewing Company, the brewer agreed to donate $1 million to stream projects, including a long-sought corridor for the trail.

Indiana drivers are paying extra for special license plates that benefit greenways open space, parks, and recreation. In 1995, about $1.9 million was netted from sales of 75,740 plates. The plates cost an additional $35, of which $25 goes to the Indiana Heritage Trust. The state of Maine also has a "loon" license plate which funds parks and wildlife. Since 1993 over 80,000 of the $20 plates have been sold.

In Idaho, cross-country skiers help pay for parking area plowing and trail grooming through the Park 'N' Ski program. Skiers can use 18 sites statewide by the purchase of a $15 annual sticker.

In Colorado's San Luis Valley the Juvenile Restitution Program has become a key source of labor for trail projects. Mountain Trails Youth Ranch supervises the young people, who have committed crimes and are required to earn money owed for damages. Several community agencies and the State Off-Highway Vehicle Program combine to support the program.

As part of a major training exercise, the Connecticut Army National Guard reconstructed an abandoned railroad between Vernon and Bolton. The combat engineer battalion will leave three miles of trail that will be part of the Central Connecticut Greenway system.

We hear so often about adjacent landowners opposing trails it's nice to hear about the other side of the coin: In Colorado Springs, the Rock Island Rail Trail is being partly funded by the Rustic Hills Improvement Association of local homeowners. Other work on the trail was done by a Boy Scout troop who cleaned up ten miles of left-over railroad ties in the corridor.

The frogs, geese and waters of the Alcovy River Greenway near Atlanta are making money with the help of Soundfisher Productions' Steve Hulse (404/493-8218). Hulse has hiked, canoed and boated through Georgia's wilds to record natural sounds and put them to music. His first audio portrait "Sound Journey: The Natural Sounds of Georgia," has paid for itself and now brings in $1,400 a month for Alcovy greenway.

return to TrailTracks Fall '96 index