The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced the grants that they were awarding for the year. According to DCNR Secretary John Quigley, the $23 million dollars in grants were awarded to 189 conservation and recreation projects in 65 counties. These funds are funded through DCNR’s Keystone Funds and Growing Greener funds. Because of this the process of awarding grants this year included evaluations several points of green criteria.
A large percentage of the grants went to trail systems and revitalizing parks, conservation areas and recreation areas. After conducting surveys about what people wanted in outdoor recreation, Pennsylvania developed a Comprehensive Recreation Plan. These studies showed that 84% of the responders indicated that walking is their favorite outdoor recreation activity. With this in mind 39 of the grants went to trail systems. Another 90 grants went to parks, recreation and conservation areas.
One of the Cambria county projects funded is for the city of Johnstown. The funds were rewarded to the Somerset Street Intergenerational Park project. In addition to providing funds to make the area ADA accessible and to build a plaza, the funds will also provide for a rain garden and a pedestrian walkway.
Another Cambria county project was funded through Portage Borough. This grant provides for a feasability study of a new four mile rail trail through Portage and Cassandra Boroughs and Portage Township.
Other projects funded for trails in surrounding counties include several rail trail projects. In Bedford county, funding was provided to aid in the development of the 10.6 mile Broad Top Rail Trail. In Blair and Huntingdon counties funding was provided to rehabilitation work at two points along the Lower Trail.
The Great Alegheny Passage will be helped by several projects that were awarded grants. Somerset county will receive funds for improvements along the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy also received funds to aid in projects around the Great Allegheny Passage. In addition, the National Road Heritage Corridor received funds for developing a the Sheepskin Trail to connect the corridor with the Great Allegheny Passage.
There were a couple of other projects of note in the counties around Johnstown. One was a grant to the Penn Trafford Recreation Commission for developement of local parks including a pedestrian trail and a dog park. In Somerset county funds were also made available to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for the purchase of land in Jefferson Township for habitat protection and passive recreational activities.
Although there were many projects funded, there were still 177 projects that could not be funded. Secretary Quigley said, “The number of applicants we cannot fund next year will be even greater, as one of our primary funding sources—the Growing Greener II bond fund—will be depleted.” This along with shrinking budgets will limit the amount available for grants. For a complete list of the grants awarded, check out the DCNR website.
So get out there Johnstown and enjoy outdoor recreation.