Area projects land $11M in second round of state’s Next Level Trails program

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources on Thursday announced nearly $30 million in trail-development grants to 18 statewide recipients, with more than a third of that money—$11.3 million—going to projects in Marion, Hamilton, Boone, Hendricks and Hancock counties.

The $29.6 million will help develop 70 miles of new trails as a part of the second round of the Next Level Trails program. The second round of grants was postponed last year due to financial uncertainty related to the pandemic.

Combined with the 17 projects announced as part of the first round in May 2019, the program has awarded $54.3 million for more than 112 miles of trail throughout Indiana.

The latest round includes funding for the following projects:

– B & O Trail in Marion and Hendricks counties, $4.58 million;

– Big Four Trail in Lebanon, $2.52 million;

– Big Four Trail in Zionsville, $1.81 million;

– Steven Nation Community Pathway in Hamilton County, $1 million;

– Pennsy Trail in Hancock County, $670,803;

– Vandalia Trail in Plainfield, $1.71 million.

“Trails have been an important resource for Hoosiers’ physical and mental well-being throughout the pandemic,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in written remarks. “These projects are a transformational investment in quality of life for communities across our state and a valuable tool for economic and tourism development. We are creating important connections that take us one step closer to becoming the most trail-friendly state in the country.”

The grants awarded in the second round include 10 regional projects and eight local projects. More on the projects can be found here.

The DNR received second-round applications for 62 projects in 36 counties, requesting a total of more than $93 million for more than 158 proposed miles of hiking, biking and riding trails.

The total included 20 new applications and 42 returning applications from the first round.

The DNR reviewed the applications for eligibility, and a multi-agency committee evaluated the proposals based on the Next Level Trails program objectives.

The program requires a minimum 20% project match, which can include monetary contributions, land value and in-kind donations of materials and labor.

Holcomb and the DNR said the third round of Next Level Trails will make $35 million available, including $25 million for regional projects and $10 million for local projects. Applications will be accepted starting Nov. 1 and are due to the DNR by Dec. 1. The DNR will announce details for an applicant workshop webinar later this year.

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