Routine Trail Maintenance Funding
Maintenance can be a challenge for trails of any size. After construction of the rail-trail, maintenance is an ongoing task that requires significant resources, including volunteers, staff and funding for equipment purchase and upkeep.
Fortunately, purchase of maintenance equipment and restoration of existing trails is one eligible activity under the federal Recreational Trails Fund Program (RTP). http://www.transportation.wv.gov/highways/programplanning/planning/grant_administration/recreationaltrails/Pages/default.aspx
Securing funding for routine trail maintenance can be a difficult task, especially in times when budgets are tight. The following methods for financing and fundraising are reflected in the West Virginia examples provided below.
• Fundraising Events
• Membership Dues
• County Property Tax Levy
• Grants to local and regional Foundations
• Municipality budget requests
• Savings through Volunteer Engagement
• Partnerships for In-kind Resources
The Great Greenbrier River Race is a triathlon (Run, Paddle, Bike) held the last Saturday in April each year. This event is hosted by the Greenbrier River Trail Association, a friends of trail non-profit organizations. Originally a team event with four members, canoeists, bicyclist and runner, the race has now attracted many people who do it solo. Proceeds from entry fees and our generous sponsors allow the trail association to sponsor various projects to improve and promote the trail. http://wordpress.greenbrierrivertrail.com
Many nonprofit friends groups and trail managers set up membership dues and donation options as a way for trail users to give back to maintain the trail. Examples include the Highlands Trail Foundation, North Bend Rails-to-Trails Foundation, and Mon River Trails Conservancy.
County Property Tax Levy
In 2016, Monongalia County passed a Parks, Trails, and Recreational Programs 5-year Levy that included $80,000 in routine maintenance funding for the Mon River and Deckers Creek Rail-Trails. Other counties have Parks Levies, such as Marion County, that helps fund the upkeep of all Marion County Parks including the rail-trails.
Grants to Local and Regional Foundations
The Mon River Trails Conservancy has had support from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, among other foundations to help provide match funding for Recreational Trail Projects to purchase maintenance equipment for the Mon River Rail-Trail system and repair and resurface the Deckers Creek Rail-Trail.
Municipality Budget Requests
The Mon River Trails Conservancy submits annual proposals to the city of Morgantown and Marion and Monongalia County Commissions to pay for salary for maintenance staff and equipment upkeep.
Savings through Volunteer Engagement
The East Wetzel Trail is a two-mile rail-trail that is being maintained by volunteers through Hundred Area Pride. They mow the trail, empty the trash cans, and keep the trail amenities such as benches and trailhead in good repair.
On the North Bend Rail-Trail, due to state budget cuts, the maintenance crew went from three employees to two employees. A retired volunteer from the North Bend Rails-to-Trails Foundation has been volunteering to fill the place of this employee.
Adopt- a-trail groups, trail volunteer work days, Eagle Scout projects, Rotary Club projects and a trail monitor programs are a few of the many volunteer efforts that keep rail-trails in WV maintained.
Cooperative Agreements for In-Kind services
An innovative regional trail maintenance agreement with the Morgantown Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners (BOPARC) and the Mon River Trails Conservancy has allowed maintenance equipment to be stored in city parks garages. In addition, MRTC contracts the city parks for the maintenance of the rail-trails outside of city limits which allows for the trail maintenance crew to get safety training on equipment and a benefits package through the city parks department.
Prison Inmates as Trail Maintenance Crew
Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission have used inmates to cut grass, trim weeds and other work at Coonskin Park and the Elk River Trail. Prison inmates have also help with upkeep of the Mon River and Deckers Creek Rail-Trails and Harrison County Rail-Trails. All the inmates are non-violent offenders in the process of being released on parole. Inmates supply the work for free, in exchange for lunch and transportation.
Marketing Grants and In-kind Services for Trail Promotion
The Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB)- has a grant for marketing trail events that bring in participants from outside of the region. They also donate the space for storing and mailing costs for distributing the rail-trail maps of North Central West Virginia.