On Monday, Gov. Phil Scott held a press conference at the Danville train station, soon becoming a location for people to explore the newly completed portions of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail and other outdoor activities available in the region.
He also announced that Danville’s proposal was one of the 24 projects selected as the 2022 Vermont Economic Collaborative Community Grants Program winners. The grants will grant nearly $5 million to projects for outdoor recreation in Vermont and will be the largest investment in outdoor recreational initiatives the state has made.
New whitewater parks, skateparks, and bike parks are being constructed in addition to trails and signage, and scholarships to provide access to BIPOC and underserved communities.
“Vermont’s natural beauty, combined with outdoor recreation opportunities, are economic engines for our state and a driving force for why people visit and live in Vermont,” said Governor Scott.
The grant recipients were among nine communities that have received funds via the program since the time it was first established through Act 194 in 2018, according to a report.
“These grants will help continue to connect trails to downtown centers, develop new recreation assets, and promote all we have to offer,” said Scott
A historic investment from the Governor in 2021 increased grants to a capacity of $100,000-$200,000 to a total amount of $5 million. It enabled the program to nearly triple the number of communities that benefit from it and also triggered significant modifications to the grant program’s guidelines.
Changes include the expansion of eligibility from municipal bodies to non-profit entities and establishing a minimum of $50,000 without a maximum award.
Twenty-one of the grants will go to community-based initiatives. However, three grants have been allocated to organizations across the state.
The grantees for this year will complete projects in 11 of Vermont’s 14 counties, and some will also benefit the entire state, like the development of a master plan for the Velomont Trail. And the development of a Vermont River Access Collaborative will permit better management of state’s precious water resources.
They will also complete plans which connect and develop the state’s recreational assets, including projects in St. Johnsbury and Danville to create better wayfinding and programming. They will also search for resources to connect pedestrians and cyclists along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to the community’s additional outdoor recreation assets and businesses.
“The substantial funds provided for this round encouraged communities to think big to leverage outdoor recreation and the many benefits that stem from it, from economic impacts to environmental stewardship to public health,” said VOREC Chair and Vermont Forest, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder.
The recipients, such as the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance, will utilize the funds to support outdoor and workforce recreation business development through training and technical assistance programs.
Furthermore, funds will be used to develop new opportunities for lending gear, like the City of Burlington’s plan to offer free tools and gear rental and Ascutney Outdoors’ free equipment rental for their kids’ skiing program.
These opportunities will give access to world-class recreation opportunities for Vermonters regardless of their income and those in Vermont who want to explore exciting outdoor activities.
“This is an exciting time for Vermont: not only do we realize in new ways the importance of outdoor recreation, but we’re also seizing meaningful opportunities to make outdoor recreation even stronger and more accessible. We’re thrilled to be able to support so many projects across the state and grateful for all of our partners in this work,” said Snyder.
This article originally appeared on Vermont Sports.