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Healey-Driscoll administration announces $12 million in grants for trail improvements, including in Berkshire County

MassTrails grants will support 65 projects in expanding and connecting the state’s trail network.

The Healey-Driscoll Administration announced on June 21 $12 million in funding to support 65 trail improvement projects across Massachusetts. The MassTrails Grant Program expands and links the state’s networks of off-road, shared-use pathways and recreational trails through matching grants, technical assistance, and resources available to municipalities, non-profits, and other public entities. Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Brian Arrigo, and local elected officials gathered in downtown Holliston to announce the awards aimed at enhancing the state’s trail infrastructure.

These grants will significantly bolster community and recreational trail networks, supporting the creation of new multi-use trails, enhancing accessibility, establishing connections between towns, constructing boardwalks and bridges, implementing signage, and expanding trail corridors across the state.

“An investment in our trails system is an investment in our residents. With increased access to outdoor recreation, we are enabling our residents to immerse themselves in nature and choose sustainable transportation options,” said Governor Maura Healey. “This funding not only drives economic growth and reduces emissions, but also contributes to the overall health of our community.”

“Our trail network links cities and towns across the region, playing a crucial role in building strong, united communities. They provide spaces for residents to come together, connect with each other, and engage in healthy, outdoor activities,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “The MassTrails program enhances connectivity and invites exploration and appreciation of the diverse resources that define Massachusetts.”

“Each mile of trail constructed represents a step towards reducing our carbon footprint and preserving our natural resources,” said EEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “Walking and cycling reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. By encouraging alternative transportation options, trails play a crucial role in mitigating the environmental impact of commuting, leading to healthier communities.”

“At DCR, we witness firsthand how trails connect communities across Massachusetts, providing essential opportunities for outdoor recreation, tourism, and economic growth,” said DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo. “Expanding and maintaining this extensive network is pivotal in improving accessibility and promoting healthier, more vibrant communities statewide. This grant program underscores our dedication to shared stewardship with our municipal partners, fostering collaboration and ensuring sustainable trail management for the benefit of all.”

During the visit, state officials awarded the Town of Holliston nearly $54,000 for a construction project aimed at improving drainage along a problematic section of the Upper Charles Trail. This area features ditches prone to leaf debris accumulation, causing stormwater runoff to divert onto the trail and leading to washouts. The project will excavate these ditches, install drainage pipes to enhance water flow management, and widen the trail to enhance safety for all users.

The inter-agency MassTrails Team, comprising MassDOT, EEA, DCR, and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB), reviews all grant applications. The program provides essential funding for the development, design, and construction of shared-use pathways, enhancing connections where people live, work, and recreate. These funds support recreational trails accommodating a wide range of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, paddling, snowmobiling, and recreational off-highway vehicle riding.

The following Berkshire County towns received a state grant for trail projects:

Adams: $222,000.00 in grant funds for the Lime Street Trailhead Easement Acquisition. This project builds on a previously funded 2022 MassTrails application by the Town. This request will provide funding to obtain an easement for the construction of a new trailhead to serve the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. The proposed trailhead will enhance access to the completed trail to the south and a new segment scheduled for construction in 2028. The project will also complete final design and environmental permitting for the trailhead itself.

Chester, Blandford, Tolland, Sandisfield, Otis: $47,000 for Chester-Blandford and Tolland Trail Maintenance. Chester, Blandford and Tolland State Forests are very diverse parks which provide a multitude of activities such as hiking, hunting, picnicking, OHV riding, and more. Growing in popularity over the recent years, Chester – Blandford experiences year-round use including its satellite properties of C.M. Gardner, Boulder Park, and Huntington State Forest. This grant will provide staff the necessary equipment to better maintain and revitalize trails that have grown into disarray.

Great Barrington, Village of Housatonic: $130,700 for Housatonic Rail Trail Extension. In 2023, Great Barrington successfully installed approximately 3,100 feet of trail on the rail bed owned by the Town. This grant request aims to secure funding for the construction of an additional 1300+/- feet of trail, extending it from its current termination to VanDuesenville Road. This enhancement will enable trail users to access the trail from Main Street and continue uninterrupted to VanDuesenville Road, creating a continuous and connected trail.

Monterey, Great Barrington, Lee: $47,500 for motorized equipment purchase. This grant will allow for the purchase of two all-terrain vehicles and trailer for use in maintaining the motorized trail system throughout Beartown State Forest and its satellite properties.

Washington, Lenox, Lee, Pittsfield, Hancock, Lanesborough: The Berkshire Snow Seekers will receive $79,875 in grant funds for trail groomer refurbishments and brake replacement for equipment. Grant funds will be used to transport a 1994 Tucker 1000 SnoCat used at October Mountain State Forest to and from Track Inc. in Newport, VT for complete overhaul and refurbishment. Funds will also purchase replacement hydraulic brakes for the Club’s 1994 LMC 1800 Sno-Cat which is used at Pittsfield State Forest.

Williamstown, North Adams: $82,400 for Northern Berkshire trail connectivity development. MASS MoCA and the Town of Williamstown (representing Williams College, Williams College Museum of Art, and The Clark Art Institute) are ready to undertake a comprehensive planning and pre-acquisition study – utilizing principles of Universal Design – of opportunities for cultural, outdoor recreation, and community connectivity to the recently completed Mohican Bike Trail in Williamstown and the in development North Adams Adventure Trail.

 

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