Microfinancing, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy style

Posted 03/26/13 by Pat Tomes in Building Trails

Photo © Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

The best part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's work is when we can provide the resources that enable local trails organizations to make good things happen in their communities.

That's why we started the Pennsylvania Mini-Grants Program, which is supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - to assist local organizations that need to make small repairs and improvements to their trail, below the amounts typically requested in larger state and federal grants.

It's microfinancing, RTC style. And like microfinancing, the Mini-Grants Program has been shown to provide real bang for the buck.

I am very pleased to announce the recipients of the 2013 Pennsylvania Mini-Grants:

Bells Gap Rail Trail - $1,896 for drainage and fencing.

D&L Trail - $1,984 for wayfinding and mileage signs.         

Lardner's Point Park - $8,175 for interpretive signage.

Lower Trail - $3,750 for a wheelchair accessible ramp.     

5 Points Trail - $7,000 for five new foot bridges.             

Montour Trail - $3,180 for bridge railings and signage.

Path of the Flood Trail - $15,000 for surface and drainage improvements.         

Pennypack Trail - $5,050 for bridge redecking.     

Queen City Trail - $1,250 for signage pilot program.          

Sheepskin Trail - $1,500 for Point Marion mural.         

Schuylkill River Trail: Thun Trail - $3,495 for mile markers.

Trans Allegheny Trails - $1,575 for trailhead signs.             

Butler Freeport Community Trail - $10,000 for bridge decking.

Of course, the warm and fuzzy feeling of providing a helping hand gets even warmer and fuzzier when we hear directly from the people who receive these grants.

"Thanks so much for the great news," said Dee Columbus of the Cambria County Conservation Authority, which can now continue its work on the Path of the Flood Trail. "This gives us the funds that we need to complete this project and get it opened. You have been a great partner for us, and we look forward to continuing our work together on our regional trail system."

A note for trail managers and builders: most projects do not include the cost of wayfinding signs in their initial construction, and so the Mini-Grants program is perfect for covering the costs of signs and matching it with donated labor.

This year we were very excited to be able to assist several trail projects which will complete gaps in broader trail networks. In particular, the 5 Points Trail project will open five closed footbridges and complete a gap between the Clarion-Little Toby Trail and Red Bank Valley Trails in the northwest region of the state.

Keep up the good work, Pennsylvania!

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