NEW: The Great Trails State Program
The Great Trails State Program, funded with $12.5 million each year for two years, will be a competitive grant program for new trail development and extension of existing trails, including paved trails, greenways, and natural surface trails for biking, hiking, walking, equestrian use, and paddling. The fund will be administered by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Eligible applicants will include municipalities or counties, regional councils of government, other public authorities, and nonprofit organizations. Eligible uses for funds will include planning, design, and related environmental assessment or permitting, land and easement acquisition, trail construction, trail structures (such as bridges), trail amenities (such as trailhead parking, signage, etc.), and maintenance, and can be used as matching funds for federal or other non-state grants.
The fund will require a minimum of a 25% flexible match, including cash, in-kind services, or donation of assets. Grants awarded will be limited to $500,000 per project.
Complete the Trails Fund Focuses on State Trails
The budget adds $5 million to the Complete the Trails Fund which supports authorized State Trails. There are now 15 authorized state trails, up from 12 when the fund was originally created in 2021. Haw River, Saluda Grade Rail Trail, and an Equine State Trail were all authorized as State Trails this year. Much of the $5 million was allocated to specific State Trails, including $50,000 capacity building funding for each of the approved nonprofit partner organizations working on these State Trails.
Specific Projects Funded
The budget also allocates $24.9 million in non-recurring funds for specific trail and greenway projects across the state:
$12,000,000 for to Conserving Carolina to fund continued development of the Saluda Grade Corridor Trail in Henderson and Polk Counties
$4,000,000 to the Columbus Jobs Foundation, Inc. in Columbus County for a walkway and trail project and related capital improvements
$2,500,000 to Camp Grier G5 Trail Collective for trail construction and related improvements at in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest in McDowell, Burke, Caldwell, Avery, and Watauga counties.
$2,000,000 to the City of Shelby in Cleveland County for Rails to Trails projects
$2,000,000 to the Town of Blowing Rock in Watauga County for the Middle Fork Greenway
$1,000,000 to Cleveland County Water for the Stagecoach Greenway Recreation Trail
$535,000 for the Burke River Trail Association which covers eastern Burke County, and the towns of Drexel, Valdese, Rutherford College, Connelly Springs, Rhodhiss, Long View and Hildebran.
$315,000 to the Town of Princeton in Johnston County for capital improvements including trail construction
$250,000 to the Town of West Jefferson in Ashe County for a public hiking trail on Paddy Mountain
$200,000 to the Friends of the Overmountain Victory Trail which covers 225 miles in North Carolina, including Rutherford, Burke, Caldwell, Wilkes, McDowell, Avery and Mitchell Counties
$125,000 to the Town of McAdenville in Gaston County for the Carolina Thread Trail
$40,000 to the Dan River Basin Association for capital improvements or equipment at the Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail in Reidsville in Rockingham County