Posted on May 23, 2023
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recently announced that approximately $9 million in state grants are being released through the Connecticut Recreational Trails Program to plan, build, expand, and improve a total of 50 multi-use trails across Connecticut.
DEEP has seen demand for outdoor recreation increase dramatically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Annual visits to locations in the Connecticut State Parks and Forests system reached an estimated 17 million in 2022 – a 75% increase from pre-pandemic visitation levels of between 9 and 10 million in 2019. Additionally, the economic value of hiking, climbing, and tent camping increased by 50% from 2019 to 2021. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the value of outdoor recreation in 2021 contributed nearly $4 billion to the state and supported more than 40,000 jobs.
The grant money can be allocated for a wide variety of purposes, including planning, design, land acquisition, construction, construction administration, and publications for bikeways, walkways, and greenways, as well as for equipment and trail amenities, such as parking lots, toilet buildings, signs, and benches.
The Connecticut Greenways Council assisted DEEP with the competitive grant selection process. Funding for program administration of 5%, pursuant to state statutes, is also included in the grants. DEEP anticipates most of the awarded projects being completed by 2026.
Locally, Harkness Memorial State Park is slated to receive $16,000 for boardwalk renovations.