RTC’s 2018 Doppelt Grants Invest in 10 Trail Projects, Filling Critical Gaps in Trail Funding

Posted 05/22/18 by Eli Griffen in Building Trails, America's Trails

Katy Trail State Park | Photo by Aaron Fuhrman

Next week is National Trails Day 2018, and in honor of this celebratory occasion, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2018 Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund grant program!

Since 2015, RTC’s Doppelt Fund has awarded nearly a half-million dollars in grants to nonprofits and government agencies working to develop and improve multiuse trails. Established with funding from philanthropist Jeff Doppelt of Great Neck, New York, and an anonymous donor, the Doppelt Fund helps organizations and local governments bring trail concepts to fruition and fill gaps in trails and trail systems. Uniquely, awards from the Doppelt Fund can be used to match federal or state funding awards—encouraging increased participation in these trail funding programs by municipalities and other levels of government, and demonstrating their value to decision-makers, locally and nationally.

Route of the Hiawatha | Photo by Milt Hull

2018 Grant Recipients

This year, RTC is awarding the most annual funds yet to the most awardees, with more than $140,000 going to 10 worthy recipients.

“The projects that we were able to fund this year are incredible,” said Jeff Doppelt. “Through a relatively small investment, we’re able to complete and connect iconic trails and improve the trail user experience. Hundreds of these types of projects exist all over the country; it’s important that people begin to understand that the need far outweighs the funding available. These projects are essential to building and maintaining the trails that so many of us love and that communities rely upon for recreation, transportation and economic vitality.”

The 2018 Doppelt Fund recipients are as follows:

  • City of Dayton (Ohio), receiving $15,000, which will serve as a federal funding match for the acquisition of a former rail corridor that will eventually be home to a new trail, The Flight Line.
  • Dallas County Conservation Board (Iowa), receiving $15,000 for the acquisition of six parcels of land required to extend the iconic High Trestle Trail to the Raccoon River Valley Trail north of Des Moines.
  • Friends of Clare County Parks & Recreation (Michigan), receiving $5,000 to increase support for an off-road alignment of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail through Clare.
  • Idaho Panhandle National Forests, U.S. Forest Service, receiving $20,000 to resurface and reshape the slope of the Route of the Hiawatha through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel.
  • Marin County Bicycle Coalition (California), receiving $5,000 to promote efforts to convert the closed Alto Tunnel into a crucial trail link through Marin County.
  • Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority (Missouri), receiving $25,000 for the Greenwood Connector, which will help to build the final 8-mile trail segment to complete a statewide trail connecting St. Louis to Kansas City via the Katy and Rock Island trails.
  • Western New York Land Conservancy, Inc., receiving $10,000 to conduct a design competition to convert a former rail line in Buffalo into a trail and linear park.
  • New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, receiving $7,500 to build support for the Ice & Iron Greenway, a future rail-trail through densely populated and underserved communities in North Jersey.
  • Rutherford County Government (North Carolina), receiving $30,000 for trail enhancements that will improve and encourage trail use, including the development of crosswalks and fencing; installation of educational kiosks and signs; and construction of wildlife viewing stations along an extension of the Thermal Belt Rail-Trail.
  • Southwest Renewal Foundation of High Point, Inc. (North Carolina), receiving $10,000 to increase capacity for the future Southwest High Point Greenway, including outreach expenses and matching funds for additional grants.

Supporting the Growing Demand for Trails in America

This year, we received more than 180 applications from across the United States seeking nearly $5.5 million in funding to support their trail projects, reflecting the incredible demand for rail-trails and trail networks across the country.


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A bicyclist stops to admire the limestone bluffs along the Katy Trail. | Photo by Aaron Fuhrman

Of note, Doppelt funds will specifically go toward improvements and enhancements to three trails in the national Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, including Katy Trail State Park in Missouri, the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail in Michigan and the Route of the Hiawatha in Idaho. RTC was fortunate to receive a legacy gift of just over $40,000 from North Carolina Rail-Trails, Inc. to support rail-trails in the Tar Heel State.

We are confident that all the 2018 grant recipients will benefit from the outsized impact that other previous Doppelt Fund recipients have experienced in years past. This effect can be seen in places like Bozeman, Montana, where the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT)—one of six awardees in 2016—completed their Doppelt Fund-supported work on the Gallagator Linear Trail, purchasing a trail counter to better track trail usage and bringing three trail bridges up to safety codes and standards. According to GVLT, “Runners, walkers and bikers all express their unsolicited appreciation” for the work “when they see GVLT staff members near the bridges.”

Additional impact was felt in 2016 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where a $20,000 award to Fort Wayne Trails, Inc. supported the ongoing development of the Pufferbelly Trail. The trail, named for a steam locomotive that once ran on the abandoned Fort Wayne, Jackson and Saginaw Railroad line, will eventually connect downtown Fort Wayne to its suburbs and vast rural expanse to the north. The Doppelt Fund grant was fully used to support trail construction, with a beautiful extension to the developing trail opening just last year.

Gallagator Bridge before (left) and after (right) | Photos courtesy Gallatin Valley Land Trust
Gallagator Bridge before (left) and after (right) | Photos courtesy Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Congratulations to all our 2018 grantees! We’re excited and inspired to see all the incredible projects that are being developed across the country, and we are thrilled to be able to support their great work.

To learn more about RTC’s trail development resources, and to get information on the 2019 funding cycle for the Doppelt Fund, sign up for our Trail Expert Network.

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