JAY — The Select Board voted unanimously Monday to support legislative bill LD 1156 that would establish a Maine Trail Bond for outdoor recreation and active transportation.

Dozens of towns, organizations and businesses have signed on to support the effort that would establish a $30 million trails bond that would provide grants to support non-motorized, motorized and multi-use trails, according to Marc Edwards of Strong, a regional outreach coordinator for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

“My job is to listen to people from Franklin County and report back the needs to Augusta,” Edwards said.

There is a big need for trails including maintenance. Snowmobile clubs are hurting for volunteers, he said.

The $30 million for trails would be dispersed over four years to develop and maintain trails. Grant applicants would need to demonstrate at least a 10% match to get a grant, he said. The matching funds can come from tax-increment financing agreements, individual donations or other sources.

Sponsors of the bill include Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton, and state Rep. Scott Landry, D-Farmington.


LD 1156 is proposed as “An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Promote the Design, Development and Maintenance of Trails for Outdoor Recreation and Active Transportation.”

About 465 people, towns or organizations have signed on to support the bill, Edwards said. Among the towns or cities that signed on are Kingfield, Wilton, Rumford, Mexico, Madison, Bethel, Carrabassett Valley, Rangeley, Skowhegan and Lewiston.

Edwards still has more towns to approach in Franklin County, he said.

“In every corner of the state, Maine trails are a critical resource for connecting Maine People and visitors with the natural world and for reaching destinations to work and play,” according to information from the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

During the pandemic, more people than ever discovered Maine trails for hiking, biking, snowmobiling, skiing, commuting, and other activities, according the council.

“Trails are an essential component of Maine’s $3 billion outdoor recreation economy, which supports 41,000 jobs. Snowmobiling alone generates $460 million in direct spending in Maine and supports 2,200 jobs. Annual and indirect spending from snowmobiling exceeds more than $600 million,” according to the council’s information.

The Dec. 18 heavy rain and flooding storm has damaged many trails and bridges along with roads in Franklin County. Club volunteers, land owners and businesses are working together to repair the damage.

The $30 million bond would provide grants to nonprofits, municipalities and divisions of government statewide.

Funding would be managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, which has experience managing the federal Recreation Trails Program, Edwards said. The investment would strengthen communities, economy and quality of life, according to the council’s information.

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