Excerpted from from Maine Biz : “https://www.mainebiz.biz/article/franklin-county-outdoor-recreation-projects-get-financial-boost-from-northern-forest-center”
The High Peaks Alliance received a portion of the $317,526 awarded this month as part of the Northern Forest Center’s focus on destination development for northern Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
The programs that got grants help communities create amenities that can attract visitors, new residents and businesses while sustaining and enriching quality of life for people who already live in the destination area, a Northern Forest Center news release said.
“This year’s funded projects include all kinds of trail development, from accessible community trails to mountain biking and an arts trail, as well beginner-level ski jump hills, mountain biking skills parks, visitor information and a safe crossings program,” said Joe Short, vice president of the Northern Forest Center. “The grant program invests in projects that support economic development and outdoor recreation opportunities for residents in our region’s rural communities.”
The $317,526 granted this year leverages matching money and in-kind project support, for a total $515,491 investment in community-based outdoor recreation amenities. Coupled with 10 grants awarded in 2020, the initiative’s support for outdoor recreation infrastructure in the region totals $619,317 in grants toward a total $1.1 million investment in recreation projects.
High Peaks Alliance, in Farmington, got $50,000 to improve trail accessibility and community connection in Farmington, and train trail stewards.
“The Sandy River is an enormous asset to the town of Farmington,” said Brent West, executive director of the High Peaks Alliance. “By building an accessible trail connecting downtown Farmington to the waterfront, we will attract more people to town, keep people in town longer, and showcase why this region is a great place to raise a family, enroll in college, or spend a day.
“We have found that access to water, well maintained trail, and proximity to local amenities are popular for visitors and residents alike. These experiences are foundational to growing our economy and the Northern Forest Center’s grant will enable our community to build the first accessible trail in Franklin County,” he said.
Short, of the Northern Forest Center, said that applications represented more than $557,000 in projects.
The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association, from its annual outdoor participation report found that there was a 28% increase in camping and a 16% increase in hiking nationwide in 2020.