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$300k Available in 6 Counties of Maine, New Hampshire, & Vermont to Improve Recreation Opportunities

Mar 22, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  

Six northeastern US counties will receive $300k in grant money to expand outdoor opportunities, partially as a response to the massive participation spike seen in outdoor sports since the start of Covid-19. $200k is available to all six counties in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, while an additional $100k is available to projects in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom through a separate fund.

Eligible projects must be directly tied to improving outdoor recreation opportunities and must be located in one of the six counties included in the project. More information about the project, along with application instructions, is available on the Northern Forest Center's website.

The full press release from the Northern Forest Center:

Projects in six counties in western Maine, northern New Hampshire, and northeast Vermont can take advantage of grant funds from the Northern Forest Destination Development Initiative to respond to the increased demand for outdoor recreation due to Covid-19 restrictions. The program is an initiative of the Northern Forest Center in Maine and New Hampshire, offered in partnership with Northeastern Vermont Development Association/NEK Collaborative in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The initiative is supported by the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC).

“The first round of grants last year coincided with the arrival of Covid-19,” said Joe Short, vice president of the Northern Forest Center. “The 10 projects we funded were planned before the pandemic, but they added resources and infrastructure that served residents looking to get outdoors for exercise, fun, and stress relief. I expect many of this year’s applicants will be responding to the increased demand for outdoor recreation.”

Early data reported by the Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association, from its annual outdoor participation report show a 28% increase in camping and a 16% increase in hiking nationwide in 2020.

The Northern Forest Destination Development Initiative funds projects that build destination appeal and related economic opportunity and are closely tied to community-developed plans and priorities. Eligible applicants include public entities, Indian Tribes, and non-profit organizations that design, build, maintain or market trails, parks, wayfinding, and related outdoor recreation and community infrastructure and amenities. Grants will range from $10,000 to $50,000. Program details and application are available at https://nfcenter.org/recgrants.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Eastern Time, April 14, 2021. Approximately $200,000 in grant funds is available this year across the six counties, with an additional $100,000 available specifically for projects in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom through separate funding from the Northern Border Regional Commission to the Northeastern Vermont Development Association. Applicants can apply to both grant opportunities through one application.

Projects must be located in Caledonia, Essex, Orleans counties in Vermont; Coos County, New Hampshire; Oxford, Franklin counties, Maine, and qualify in one of the following categories:

Wayfinding & Interpretation: Public access and navigation improvements including signage, maps and/or other informational materials.

Outdoor recreation infrastructure: Trail development, signage/kiosks/maps, or other outdoor recreation infrastructure improvements. Any infrastructure must be owned by or under the long-term control (minimum 20-year lease) of the eligible applicant.

Marketing: Marketing activities tied directly to outdoor recreation (as a portion of a larger project; application cannot be for marketing alone).

Supporting amenities: Such as parking or downtown infrastructure that will directly support outdoor recreation development.

In the first round of grants in June 2020, the Initiative awarded $302,000 to the following 10 projects:

Northern Forest Canoe Trail, regional: $19,600 to map and promote underutilized waterways of the Northern Forest.

Mahoosuc Pathways, Bethel, Maine: $30,000 to develop a “Main Street to the Mountains” recreational wayfinding system.

Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, Rangeley, Maine: $36,000 to implement a strategic wayfinding project that enhances visitors’ experience, establishes a consistent brand, and promotes healthier lifestyles.

Western Foothills Land Trust, Norway, Maine: $21,000 to connect the recreational and educational assets of Roberts Farm Preserve to downtown Norway.

Craftsbury Community Care Center, Craftsbury, Vermont: $30,000 to build accessible paths open to the public and connected to the town trail system.

Greensboro Land Trust, Greensboro, Vermont: $12,000 to repair bridges and add and improve signage at Barr Hill.

NorthWoods Stewardship Center, E. Charleston, Vermont: $50,000 to replace the main lodge roof.

Town of Brighton, Brighton, Vermont: $38,200 for improvements to Island Pond’s Lakeside Park, including trailhead improvements and a dock.

Town of Granby, VT, Granby, Vermont: $15,000 to maintain trails and improve signage at the Cow Mountain Pond Municipal Forest Area.

Vermont Land Trust, Newport, Vermont: $50,000 to build a boardwalk that connects Newport’s beach area to Bluffside Farm, creating a waterfront recreation corridor.

The Northern Forest Center is a regional innovation and investment partner creating rural vibrancy by connecting people, economy, and the forested landscape.



62 Comments

  • 14 1
 Maybe one day we can get this here in CT. Our trail systems are strangely structured, and almost all are unsanctioned. One day. Nice to see this happening further north though.
  • 3 0
 Sounds like CA. Government money for quality legal riding? Hahahaha
  • 10 1
 That’s because NEMBA is absolutely effin terrible.
  • 6 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: I looked through all your photos and not one of them shows a dual crown fork on that spark, now I can't trust anything you say.
  • 1 0
 @robw515: hahahhaha maybe one day, need a 100mm dualcrown fork lol
  • 2 0
 @DHhack: I hear a lot of hate on NEMBA, but I'm not sure why. Honestly asking the question because I never got an explanation.

I feel like we have some pretty good sanctioned trails in CT. I've been riding Rockhouse in Oxford and it's very impressive what NEMBA has done there in the past 2 years. Sure the trails are pretty tame, but they are fun to take a rip after work if you only have an hour or so. I see a lot of families and little kids getting out there too, so that's a good thing.
  • 2 0
 Norbrook brewery has a good variety of trails. And the beer is good too
  • 2 0
 @Endurahbrah: The problem is that they have 1 or 2 trail systems that they maintain and then neglect the other ones. I'd like to see world-class trails here, its a tall order, but I'm working towards trying to get some trail systems that are better maintained, have more variety, and have a layout that makes sense. Case, for example, me and my friends are the only ones I know of on the pond side that do any sort of maintenance, even though Nemba (should be) the maintainer. I'm fine with that though, it allows us to build trails that have good features, and aren't just some raked path in the woods. One thing I really, really want to see in CT is a good skills and jump park, but we just don't have any I know of. You could say Rockland, but that isn't really what I'm talking about.
  • 2 0
 @Chives09: Norbrook might be the best trails in CT.
  • 2 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: Gotcha. Yeah the pumptrack at Rockland isn't great. I heard there is another place Rockwell Park I think. Supposed to have more of a skills area.

I gotta get up to Case this year, can't believe I've never been. Sometimes it's better if you don't have an organization involved. If somebody complains about a feature then it will likely get torn down.

Norbrook is awesome! Also professionally built trails.
  • 2 1
 @Endurahbrah: they are basically a rake and ride organization. Zero inclination to keep up with the times when it comes to trail design (pretty sure most of them are afraid of flow or jumps), anti e-bike which excludes a pretty well off subset of trail advocates, almost zero maintenance of trails once they’ve been “built” and very little regard for providing incentives to communities when it comes to location of trails, almost never built near areas where riders would go spend money before/after a ride in the town the trails are in. The only reason they get any new trails made is to keep their subscriber base up.
  • 2 0
 @Endurahbrah: I'll show ya around if you'd like. I ride there almost daily.
  • 1 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: Thanks, let ya know when I make it up there!
  • 2 1
 Sanctioned trails are boring. The less nemba touches the better. Its good to have a bit of both.
  • 2 0
 @jdkellogg: Well, I was thinking of one day having something similar to Bentonville up here, sanctioned, helps the community, and is super fun.
  • 9 0
 Dang! Only Coos County NH. Southern NH could really benefit from some gravity fed trails.
  • 4 0
 As much as I love XC, its a bit of an overload considering there are almost no DH trails longer than 2 minutes around here.
  • 4 0
 It will never happen in SNH, the people just. Don't. Get it.
  • 1 0
 As much as I would like to see DH trails in southern NH I don't see it happening. Not many places I can think of that aren't National Park land. Or Highland.
  • 1 0
 @FriedRys: You need a place with at least 1000' elevation. not too many places like that in SNH sadly.
  • 4 0
 @EdSawyer: seriously? Highland is like 620' there's only maybe 1000 hills that size in NH
  • 4 1
 @FriedRys: national park land in Southern NH? LOL. Are we talking about the same state?
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: probably he is talking about state park land or national forest land. I have plenty of land that would be fun to have trails on but it's not in SNH or Coos, more like central NH. And not 1000 or even 620' of vert.
  • 2 0
 @EdSawyer: Im not sure the vert and it’s not too southern but I remember a while ago the owner of Whittier mountain in ossipee wanted ideas on how to develop it...
  • 2 0
 @keatonistheguy:
I know in NEMBA’s recent Trail Mix, the southern chapter was inquiring of readers fo leads on land that could be used for a gravity fed trail system. It seemed to imply that the majority of useable land that would suffice is most likely privately owned. If only I had a couple million bucks.
  • 1 0
 @keatonistheguy: Whittier would be ideal. Great access off route 16, plenty of very, an existing lift infrastructure (-ish). Tenney Mt would be another good option too.
  • 2 0
 @dgsmith15: honestly there's been opportunities over the years and whenever we get a hill we waste the vert and make a nice 2 way xc trail on it. National forest hasn't been the issue, as they have allowed stuff in certain areas. The state on the other hand hasn't, the whole bear brook fiasco is infuriating. Best chance for vert in the southern half of the state and it's all wasted. Look at vermont, so many state parks and funding goes to hiring professional trail builders to build gravity fed trails in state parks. NH is mostly still stuck in the 90's when it comes to MTB except for a few key areas...
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: what's the fiasco @ bear brook? There seem to be some nice trails there from the ones I have ridden.
  • 1 0
 @EdSawyer: Bear Brook is awesome! Bout 8 years ago we were supposed to in there and start a stacked trail system with greens blues and then blacks on the outer terrain and in the places with elevation. That got squashed even though I believe it was approved, the state went back and had Nemba fixing and repairing doubletrack for them. Now years later the only new trails have been flowy XC with zero features. Our state parks system is stuck in the 90's for bikes as is this southern half of the state. Atleast places like COOS trails get it, and are building AMAZING stuff, and they are getting the attention for it as well. The state still loves to take our money though!
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: good thoughts, thanks for the backstory. There is some good stuff up north, not even need to go as far as Coos. Some stuff around Plymouth area is pretty decent too.
  • 1 0
 @EdSawyer: yes I know, I travel upnorth almost exclusively to ride now... living in southern NH it kinda sucks but, it is what it is and why I say SNH just doesn't get it
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: there is some ok stuff here though, as mention bear brook, also FOMBA looks interesting but I haven’t been there yet. Some of the other state parks like pawtuckaway and northwood should also be decent. Additionally: stratham hill park, fort rock, and others. I am not sure what is near Londonderry though, I am more seacoast-area.
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: I’m only a recent member of NEMBA as I’ve just gotten back into mtb after a lengthy hiatus. However I’m really interested in becoming active in the SNH chapter. It would be nice to see some changes from the history you’ve described. I don’t see any reason why NH couldn’t become as active in the downhill MTB word as places like NC. Maybe a little wishful thinking, but still.
  • 1 0
 @dgsmith15: well, lets see what happens... if it's anything like my experience it will end in someone telling you "if you want trails like that show up" and then you do, and they build the trail anyway and turn it into the same xc trail like the other 500 miles in the area. Then the state will crush your dreams of anything being built that isn't straight up cross country buff singletrack. Then you will give up, and just travel to ride the trails you want to ride and give your efforts and money to areas that are doing what you would do in SNH or what you'd like to see. That's why I'm completely ok with COOS getting ALL the money, as they are doing it right and building what the people want.
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: Let's hope it doesn't come to that, but if it does so be it. I'm happy to ride trails away from home just as much as near home. Also, are you the same person running the projectnortheast yt channel?
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: Nice. Love your content. Keep it up!
  • 2 0
 @projectnortheast That's my experience with the NEMBA trails in Southern NH as well. It seems like trails are still being built for 90's stumpy hardtails. No one likes log rolls anymore and teter-totters don't really work all that well with modern geometry (ie. very long wheelbases). Combined with routing trails through >700mm gaps in trees (I'm not saying we should cut the trees down, but the trail just shouldn't be there as modern bars are too wide). I'm all about xc type trails, so I'm never going to say we have too many of them, but when even new trails, or new re-routes are not being designed with modern riding in mind (I don't mean flow when I say "modern") it is a little disheartening and gets me driving to NoCo every weekend
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: My apologies, I should have said State Park land.
  • 7 0
 YES!!!
  • 6 1
 Coos county? That’s great for the maybe 10 people that live up there.
  • 4 0
 I think the point of these grants is that regardless of whether the infrastructure was sufficient for the residents, with the pandemic, the amount of user traffic has skyrocketed. There are thousands of vacation homes in Coos county, and the Western portion of the county is pretty accessible from all points South via I-93 and I-91. I think you'd agree that basically all of Coos county is a pretty depressed area. Any help they can get to bring in tourism, or even just make their lives less depressing is a positive.
  • 3 0
 As a born and raised resident of Coos I’m not complaining if you don’t want to visit. But lots of other people are and this is awesome. We have some great trails being built and there’s going to be more.
  • 4 0
 Yeah But I'd rather Coos get the money as they already are building RAD trails. youtu.be/1I4-lZvWBE8
  • 1 0
 Well, no one else will say it but I will. Tax payer money for Covid relief should not be going to build trails. I’m huge into mtn and road biking and it’s great to have trails and a place to ride however our country has just been hit with a two trillion dollar slush fund of tax money paying for all kinds of nonsense. It’s just wrong. Your children’s children will be paying this off.
  • 2 0
 Relax, it's only $300k. Your children won't go hungry.
  • 5 1
 I'll take $50K to improve Pandemic Peak here in Brookfield, VT.
  • 2 1
 Maine will do some paved paths, wood fencing, signage with mulched flower gardens. Same as all that mount that was spent at Sunday River. Such a waste Frown
  • 1 0
 Wait, someone spent money at Sunday River? On trails?
  • 1 1
 @FriedRys: LOL. You guys sound like you have authentic local knowledge.
  • 1 0
 @Lemmyschild: depends if you know that that name applies to more than a now defunct bike park... they were too lazy to maintain anything and nobody showed up to ride so they went back to snow only.
  • 1 0
 Dude, the money did not go to Sunday River. It went to an organization that is unrelated to Sunday River. They will probably a trail that connects to a new trail system 5 miles out of town. It is a good thing.
  • 2 0
 Gorham NH has done some awesome stuff in the past year or so. Very excited to see what they produce with this.
  • 1 0
 Gets better every year! -for the New England crowd if you visit VMBA.org you will see even more projects on the way. Sweet!! (Vermont) JC
  • 2 0
 Easy poultney, VT needs some eyes on it. They’ve been doing some rad stuff the past couple of years.
  • 1 0
 Yep, that’s the mentality. It’s only 300k. Its a freaking bill for Covid, not bike trails. Geez
  • 1 0
 Vermont stepping up! Nice!!!
  • 2 0
 Scotland: "Hold my grog"
  • 1 0
 Scotland be like... "how bout 10 times that?"
  • 1 0
 Huge potential in 603, 802 & 207.
  • 1 1
 Should be enough to plow one machined built flow trail across a hill near you!
  • 1 0
 How about some for Arizona and Utah?

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