While snowmobiling is months away, Pennsylvania nonprofits are celebrating seven grants worth $955,000 to develop trails for the sport and all-terrain vehicles.
The largest grant – $444,100 – will go to Elk County Riders, Inc. The money will assist the development of the Byrnedale ATV Connector Trail in Jay Township in Elk County in northwest Pennsylvania.
“It’s like Christmas in July, but much better,” Cheryl Ruffner, executive director of the Elk County Riders, told the Bradford Era. “This money will help connect the 115 miles of trail – it’s more than we ever could have hoped to receive.”
Elk County Riders is in the fourth year of a 10-year plan to connect hundreds of miles of trails. Snowmobile and ATV enthusiasts are expected to come to the region as a destination and have an economic impact on the area.
“I think it will be a really remarkable tourist attraction that keeps getting better,” Ruffner said, adding it might draw riders from the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in West Virginia, a nationally known trail system for off-road vehicles.
The funds are from the ATV Management Restricted Account and Snowmobile Restricted Account, managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Majestic Kamp & Lost Trails, Inc., received the second-largest grant, $203,300, for developing trails in McKean County on the northern border of Pennsylvania. The organization will purchase equipment to maintain and construct approximately 67 miles of ATV trails.
Majestic Kamp & Lost Trails plans to purchase a new bulldozer with the grant and also is planning to build walking trails and other pathways meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The goal of DCNR’s trail grants program is to have a trail within 15 minutes of every Pennsylvania citizen through enhancement and expansion of nonmotorized and motorized trails.
Applicants can apply for funds from the Snowmobile Management Restricted Account and the All-Terrain Vehicle Management Restricted Account for construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, and planning and acquisition of trails, areas and facilities for use by ATVs and snowmobiles. Money also can be used to purchase or lease equipment for trail maintenance and construction and to develop educational materials and programs.
“Pennsylvania is home to thousands of avid snowmobile and ATV riding enthusiasts, and our trails and amenities attract visitors who spend money in local communities,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn said in a statement. “Through these projects we’ll improve upon and expand opportunities across the commonwealth.”