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$6.3 million in state grants to boost outdoor recreation

Press Mountain Times

Published May 29, 2024

Nearly $1 million dedicated to local projects

The Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) announced May 29 the 51 new recipients of the VOREC Community Grant Program. These projects mark an investment of over $6 million into Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy.

“These grants are an investment in Vermont’s future,” said Secretary Moore. “They will help communities revitalize their outdoor recreation assets, create jobs, improve access to nature for everyone, and build stronger, more resilient communities for generations to come.”

Projects awarded in this year’s announcement fall into one of four tracks:  Implementation, Project Development, Outdoor Equity, and Flood Recovery. 

Awarded projects will enhance recreation economies in rural, mid-size and urban communities, lay the groundwork for future community-based projects, expand access to outdoor recreation for all people, and help communities and trail organizations recover from the flooding of summer 2023.

“We are pleased to support so many amazing projects across Vermont,” said Becca Washburn, chair of the VOREC steering committee and director of lands administration and recreation for the Dept. of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. “The interest in the program, as well as the strength of the applications demonstrates the opportunity communities from Grand Isle to Brattleboro see in investing in the connection between outdoor recreation and economic benefits.”

For the first time, the grant program also encouraged projects focused on outdoor equity to apply to a dedicated funding track. Grant recipient, Arwen Turner, executive director of Come Alive Outside, said: “Come Alive Outside is thrilled to receive funding through the VOREC Community Grant Program’s Outdoor Equity track. This funding supports the continued work of Come Alive Outside’s Outdoors For All Initiative, a collective of organizations, businesses, and advisors with lived experience representing underserved and underrepresented populations in outdoor recreation. This funding will boost the collective’s ability to develop both simple and highly innovative solutions that make accessing the health, wellness, and joy benefits of outdoor activities in Rutland more equitable.”

Governor Scott established the VOREC steering committee by executive order in June 2017 to bring together a broad set of outdoor recreation stakeholders to promote stewardship of state recreation assets and market Vermont’s outdoor recreation values and attributes to effectively foster responsible and sustainable economic growth. The VOREC Community Grant Program became one of the first and highest priorities of the committee. This grant round is the program’s fourth and most significant investment in communities across the state.

Recipients in Rutland and Winsor County include:

$365,680 to Merck Forest and Farmland Center to install a universal access trail a boardwalk to connect Mettawee Community School to Merck Forest and Farmland Center’s trail network and property.

$298,950 to Come Alive Outside to provide capacity and programming support to its outdoor equity efforts in Rutland County.

$100,000 to Green Mountain Horse Association to develop a flood mitigation and management plan for the Green Mountain Horse Association’s main campus in South Woodstock.

$ 92,298 to Smokey House Center to develop a community-informed plan to revitalize Smokey House’s degraded trail system and design a trail-based community science program.

$84,000 to the Town of Killington to build a critical connection between the Sherburne Trails Parking Lot and Pesky Cairn trails. 

$44,166 to Hartland Winter Trails to repair and make more resilient the Hartland Winter Trail system that was damaged in the floods of Summer.

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