Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Getting DNR Support for your Local Trail Project

You've got the perfect idea for a bike trail in your local community, but what do you do to make it happen? Oftentimes the biggest hurdles you face are getting money for your project. Lucky for you the Wisconsin DNR offers grant programs that can help you turn your dream trail into reality.

Below are some tips that I recieved from Lynda Fink who has experience developing trails in Southeastern WI.

1) Contact your local DNR grant coordinator and request a copy of the Stewardship Book. This has detailed information on all of the different programs that are available. In addition, it has the ranking sheet, so individually communities can evaluate how their project will rank (e.g. if you use recycled product +1 point, if you located near water, + 1point, etc.)

2) For the WisDNR grants, encourage your community to contact your local DNR grant coordinator. They are part of the decision-making process, so if they are on-board with your project, you will get it. They also can provide tips to make your application stronger.

3) For WisDNR grants, projects that incorporate water activities have a much higher chance than others.

4) For anyone in the SE region, the CMAQ grants do provide a better chance since it is a smaller number of people. HOWEVER, with the current changes to the program, trail projects must demonstrate a reduction in vehicular traffic vs. in the past, the recreational component could still get a grant.

5) Possibly look into attending a conference or joining the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association. The majority of Wisconsin Communities (greater than 5,000 in population) belong to this organization. Smaller communities do also belong. Great networking opportunity and also has speaking opportunities.

6) Contact the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin! We have experience developing trails and can help you through the process.

While developing a local trail is definetely a high-endurance endeavor, those that stick it out from start to finish enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their dream come to life in their community. Many hands make the work lighter, and your project will have a higher rate of success if you are able to develop a broad base of local support.

The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin is here to help you in your local advocacy efforts. Please contact me for help!