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Trail work gets influx of dollars

The Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation recently approved trail funding for 27 counties — including Kitsap.

The Interagency Committee (IAC) approved a total of $5.7 million for disbursement throughout counties in Washington. Of that, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recieved $25,010 for the areas of Tahuya and Green Mountain state forests that lie in Kitsap county. The money will be spent on providing patrols and maintaining trails.

“Washington has so many great places to recreate,” said Laura Johnson, director of the IAC. “These grants invest money in providing critical maintenance of existing trails and campgrounds and in developing new places to keep up with the demand.”

Grant applications were recieved early this year and were ranked by a 15-member evaluation team in four categories. The funding, which comes from fuel taxes and fees paid to the state, is distributed through Non-highway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities (NOVA) program grants.

DNR will use $5,400 of the amount alloted to hire an officer to patrol off-road vehicle trails and trail heads, educate the public about proper trail use and its correlation to the environment, and give assistance to lost or injured riders, according to an IAC press release.

“Law enforcement being so few these days, whether it’s county, municipality or DNR, to have law enforcement in the woods, it provides a much safer environment,” said Jim Russell of DNR.

In addition to the grant, DNR will allocate $38,300 in funding, labor, donated labor and equipment. The remaining $19,610 of the grant will be used to maintain trails in the two state forests. According to the press release, the grant will allow DNR to provide much needed trail maintenance in the heavily used Tahuya State Forest in Mason County with targeted trail work in Green Mountain State Forest in Kitsap County. Maintenance includes 101 miles of the 170-mile Tahuya trail system and the 13-mile trail system on Green Mountain. As with the patrols, DNR will contribute an additional amount of $84,000 in labor, donated labor equipment and other materials.

“This was top ranked for that category,” said Susan Zemek, communications manager for IAC.” It was the highest ranked in need. It showed it had a good design for trails and (crew) support.”

In Mason County, $48,600 will be spent on patrols with another $176,490 for trail maintenance.

Phil Wolff, DNR public-use forester, is grateful that funding from the state is being provided for the maintenance of trails in the two forests.

“It’s great, it’s necessary, we wouldn’t be able to do it without (the grant),” Wolff said. “There is a high demand for trails. Green Mountain gets a lot of use by all users, primarily hiking, mountain biking and equine use.”

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