Trail head for Robert Frost Trail at the Notch Visitor's Center in Amherst. Photo:Art Keene

The Pioneer Valley-based Kestrel Land Trust has received a $50,000 grant to support improvement of the Robert Frost Trail (RFT). The grant was announced by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito at an event in Lowell on June 26.

The award is one of 71 Mass Trails Grants totaling $5 million for 2019 that will provide assistance for construction, maintenance, and improvements of a variety of public trails throughout the state trails system, including hiking trails, bikeways, and shared-use paths. 

“The 2019 MassTrails Grants showcase diverse trail projects throughout Massachusetts, and will ultimately increase outdoor recreational opportunities and encourage residents and visitors to lead healthy active lifestyles,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to supporting municipalities and local organizations to achieve our shared goal to conserve and protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources while also increasing access to the natural world around us.” 

“These grant awards will allow continued investments in our trail networks, closing gaps that exist, expanding the shared-use path network, and enabling more members of the public to reach destinations in a safe, efficient, and healthy manner.”  said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

The RFT begins in South Hadley on Route 47 and runs 47 miles miles through Granby, Amherst, Pelham, Shutesbury, Leverett, Sunderland, Montague, and Wendell,  ending at the Wendell State Forest Headquarters. The project seeks to upgrade and improve the 37 miles of the trail that are located on publicly owned conservation land, permanently protected private land, and public roads. Improvements will include addressing long-deferred basic trail maintenance, upgrading a limited number of bridges, including some bog bridges, re-routing sections that are wet and, improving or adding parking at trailheads, and updating signage. The project will use professional trail contractors and volunteer trail stewards to accomplish this work over the two-year period of the grant.   

MassTrails Grants focus on improvements to existing trails, construction of new trails, and maintenance of the statewide trail system. This year’s projects include facility landscaping and amenities installation; land surveys and design plans; evaluation of off-road bikeway connections; culvert repair and gradient restoration; hiring trail staff; structure construction; installation and maintenance of directional and interpretive trail signage; development and creation of GIS mapping and trail guides; purchasing trail maintenance equipment; and upgrading existing trails to accessible trail standards.

Funding for MassTrails Grants comes partly from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) capital budget and partly from the motor fuel excise tax on off-road vehicles (including ATVs and snowmobiles), which is provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Surface Transportation Act in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). 

All MassTrails Grant applications were reviewed in consultation with an inter-agency MassTrails Team and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB). Additionally, each recipient matches awarded grants with a minimum of 20 percent in funding or in-kind services for the designated project. This year’s total investment, including matching funds, is approximately $14 million.

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