2021 RTC Fall Trail Grants Supporting Equitable Trail Access Around the Nation

Posted 11/17/21 by Mary Ellen Koontz in America's Trails, Building Trails

Washington's Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in part of the Great American Rail-Trail | Photo by TrailLink user scfroehlich

This fall’s Trail Grants are aiding 45 partners around the country in advancing trails in their communities. These 2021 grants are in addition to those announced in the spring.

On Nov. 17, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) announced the recipients of over $300,000 in grants as part of the 2021 Trail Grants Program. These grants were given to 45 organizations around the country to advance trail projects in their communities as part of TrailNation™ networks and along the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail™.

This year’s awards make up the largest amount of money given by RTC to the most amount of trail organizations in a single year. Of the total $308,500 given in this grant cycle, $283,500 was  given directly by RTC to support and accelerate the work of our partners on the equitable development of trails and active transportation systems while $25,000 was given by a generous anonymous donor. These investments represent RTC’s commitment to working directly with community organizations to create meaningful walking and bicycling connections that can positively impact economic and health outcomes in their communities.

Baltimore Greenway Trails Network

Photo by Side A Photography
Photo by Side A Photography

In Baltimore, Maryland, grants were distributed to nine community organizations working to advance the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network. This investment will support partners in designing programming and events that inspire neighborhoods to connect with each other and enjoy the benefits of trails, walking and biking throughout the city. The Baltimore recipients are as follows:

Bay Area Trails Collaborative

Rich City Rides members participate in Celebrate Trails Day along the Richmond Greenway in Richmond, CA in 2016. | Courtesy RTC
Rich City Rides members participate in Celebrate Trails Day along the Richmond Greenway in Richmond, CA in 2016. | Courtesy RTC

RTC is working with more than 50 organizations across the San Francisco Bay Area as part of the Bay Area Trails Collaborative. This year, three partners from this collaborative have been awarded grants to increase community awareness of, the 2,700-mile developing trail network connecting the region’s diverse attractions, recreational options and communities.

Capital Trails Coalition

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail | Photo by Milo Bateman

The Capital Trails Coalition is creating connections across the National Capital Area through the development of an more than 800-mile trail network spanning cities and suburbs across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Grants were given to these organizations to activate and empower people to enjoy the benefits of walking, biking and trails through local events and activities designed to show how connected trails can impact communities.

Caracara Trails

Matamoros, Mexico | Photo by Frontera Media
Matamoros, Mexico | Photo by Frontera Media

In Texas, the vision of the Caracara Trails is to weave together the Lower Rio Grande Valley’s cultural, historic and natural resources across an emerging 428-mile network. This grant led by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health Brownsville will further build momentum around the region by promoting public health on and off the trail.

The Circuit Trails

Participants of 2016 Youth Sojourn | Photo courtesy Kyle McIntyre

Across Greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, the Circuit Trails are becoming a destination all their own. The 800-mile Circuit Trails network aims to connect the region’s diverse neighborhoods to parks, employment opportunities and other destinations. Investments were made to organizations increasing awareness of and neighborhood engagement around the developing Richmond Industrial Trail. This will be a critical neighborhood connection to the regional trail network in North Philadelphia.

Great American Rail-Trail

Cardinal Greenway | Photo by Jane Holman, courtesy Waynet, Inc.
Cardinal Greenway | Photo by Jane Holman, courtesy Waynet, Inc.

RTC is working with countless partners between Washington, D.C., and Washington State to bring the vision of the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail to life. The trail is anticipated to bring a windfall of economic opportunity and tourism dollars to the communities through which it passes. These grantees received a total of $50,000 to fund trail projects and critical maintenance along this cross-country trail.

Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Massillon | Photo by Richard T. Bower

The Industrial Heartland Trails network spans more than 1,500 miles across 51 counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. When complete, the network will aid in establishing America’s Industrial Heartland as a destination for all. These grants will support two municipal organizations in Ohio and West Virginia that are filling in critical gaps that will  connect parts of the trail network  to Pittsburgh.

Miami LOOP

Blackwater Heritage State Trail | Photo by John Moran, Courtesy Florida Department of Environmental Protection

In Florida, the Miami LOOP trail network is gaining momentum to make getting around by foot, bike or wheelchair more equitable and accessible across Miami-Dade County. The Miami LOOP is set to connect communities and tourist destinations, such as Loan Depot Park, through a cohesive trail system. These awards add to the more than $124,000 RTC has awarded to advance the network in the last decade.

New England Rail-Trail Network

New Hampshire's Northern Rail Trail | Photo by Suzanne Matyas
New Hampshire's Northern Rail Trail | Photo by Suzanne Matyas

Across New England, a number of cross-state trails are forming and connecting to create a larger inter-state trail system, called the New England Rail-Trail Network, bringing the power of a regional trail system to as many as six states. State advocates in New Hampshire are working together to develop new trails across the state through the New Hampshire Rail-Trail Coalition and the development of the River Park trails system.

Route of the Badger

Route of the Badger | Photo by Ben Carter

In the greater Milwaukee area, the Route of the Badger network is creating connections across the region's communities. The 700-mile network aims to connect urban Milwaukee with suburban and rural communities in Southeast Wisconsin. To advance this work, RTC has awarded grants to seven community organizations working to address the diverse needs of the region and explore the potential of the trail system.

This investment by RTC is made to further empower and engage our many partners working on the ground to develop trails and community programming that supports trails and active transportation. These grants add to the more than $2 million in trail development grants that RTC has distributed to projects across the country since 2008.

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