TP&W awards recreational trail grants to Smith, area counties

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The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved $3.38 million dollars in grants to fund 19 motorized and non-motorized recreational trail-related projects across the state.

The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) funds recreational trail construction, renovation and acquisition. The grants are funded from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases for off-road motorcycles and four-wheelers. Thirty percent of the total NRTF grants must be earmarked for motorized recreational trails, while another 30 percent must be spent on non-motorized trail projects. The remaining 40 percent is discretionary.

Several projects funded in previous years were completed under budget and four were cancelled, creating an additional $700,000 available for re-allocation this year.  The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been utilizing the re-allocated funds for trail improvement projects in state parks. The result is a total of $4.37 million dollars in federal funding available to fund eligible trail construction projects.

Projects awarded funding for a few area counties included:

University of Texas-Tyler in Smith County received $56,900 towards the UT Tyler Trail project. Improvements include a new 1.24 miles of natural surface multi-use trail and renovation of 3.32 miles of mountain bike trail.

Friends of Neches River National Wildlife Refuge in Cherokee County received $160,000 to fund the Song Bird Trail Restoration project at the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge. The grant will aid the restoration of a half-mile natural surface trail, as well as the development of a .11 mile natural surface trail, bridge replacement, installation of a gate and interpretation sign.

Mineola Economic Development Corporation in Wood County received $200,000 towards the International and Great Northern Recreational Hiking and Biking Trail. The project includes a new 1.1 mile linear biking and pedestrian use trail with railroad ballast, a trailhead, benches, culverts, erosion preventing wing wall and signage.

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