SB 24 – What is The Trail Funding Senate Bill All About?

Recently Completed Livability Enhancement – Fort Benton Pedestrian Bridge

When communities are ranked in terms of livability and recreational opportunities, amenities such as parks and trails tend to separate nice communities from great communities. Multi-use trails, in particular, can increase a community’s appeal to tourists, and businesses and their employees. Trails are much more than a safe place to walk, they are assets that increase a town’s potential for business recruitment and economic development. As we become reliant on alternate means of transportation, trails will provide safe and efficient thoroughfares for bikes, pedestrians, and other non-motorized traffic. In the latest Montana legislative session, Montana lawmakers reaffirmed the importance of parks and trails by passing Senate Bill 24 (SB 24) to increase the budget for existing state parks and trail maintenance. SB 24 also creates a new Trails and Recreational Facilities Account and Grant Program to fund new trails throughout the state. Parks and trails funding is a non-partisan issue that is vital to community and economic development.

The new Trails and Recreational Facilities Grant Program establishes a $1 million per year funding opportunity for cities, counties, tribal governments, school districts, recreational clubs, and state/federal agencies to fund new trails, shared use paths and trailside facilities including bridges, parking areas, and restrooms. The grant program can also be used to fund maintenance and trail rehabilitation projects for existing trails, shared-use paths and other trail infrastructure. Funding from the Trails and Recreational Facilities Grant Program will be available starting in 2022.

Great American Rail-Trail Vision

The passing of Montana SB 24 coincides with a national initiative spearheaded by the Rails to Trails Organization to establish The Great American Rail Trail, a national, off-road bike route, linking Washington State to Washington D.C. The preferred route, announced in early May, traverses a large portion of Montana, connecting many communities that are already well-established as outdoor activity destinations (Missoula, Butte, Bozeman, and Livingston), as well as establishing an off-road route to expand recreational opportunities in many smaller communities along the way. Great West Engineering recently completed close to a 7-mile segment of shared-use trail from Garrison to Deer Lodge.

Funding for Trails is not limited to the Trails and Recreational Facilities Grant Program; many other funding opportunities exist. Other funding opportunities include BUILD grants, Montana Recreational Trails Program (RTP), CTEP, NRDP, and Land Water and Conservation Fund (LWCF). Great West Engineering has extensive experience funding projects of all types and sizes; including trails.

Have an idea but not sure how to make your trail vision a reality? Contact us to find out how we can help get your trail idea off the ground.