The Wolf Administration announced recently that $397,800 in new grant funding was approved to help Montgomery County construct the final section of the Schuylkill River Trail in the county.
“Trails are key in connection people to the outdoors and to new recreation opportunities, and we are pleased to support this important project that closes one of the top priority trail gaps in Pennsylvania,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
“Today’s announcement shows just how important it is to invest in the outdoors and to provide people with access to nature. DCNR will continue to work with communities in the Schuylkill River Valley to ensure the vision of this trail is realized.”
Closing this SRT gap in Montgomery County, and the only other remaining trail gap on the trail in Manayunk, will connect Center City Philadelphia to Reading with 40 miles of continuous, multiuse trail. Ultimately the goal of the SRT is to extend 120 miles from Frackville in Schuylkill County, through Montgomery, Chester and Berks Counties to Philadelphia.
“We thank DCNR for their ongoing support and investment in our regional trail network,” said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, who is the chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.
“Completion of this one mile stretch of trail in Lower Pottsgrove Township will close the last remaining gap of the Schuylkill River Trail in Montgomery County, providing important connections for everyone who uses this trail.”
The SRT travels through the historically rich region of southeastern Pennsylvania, passing through rural, agricultural, suburban, urban, and industrial landscapes. The Schuylkill River, Dutch for Hidden River, is where the American, Industrial and Environmental Revolutions were born.
“When this section of trail is complete, trail users will be able to enjoy the full range of the Schuylkill River Trail in Montgomery County including the multi-use trail that crosses over Route 422 and a seamless connection to Chester County,” said Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr., vice chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “We thank DCNR for this investment in the Route 422 Connector and for contributing to our countywide trail system and the region’s Circuit Trails network.”
DCNR’s primary goal for trails is to ensure there is a trail within 10 minutes of every Pennsylvanian, so that outdoor recreation is accessible in every Pennsylvania community. Additionally, the agency works to create welcoming outdoor recreation opportunities in communities across the commonwealth, as exemplified with the SRT.
“The entire SRT community has been waiting for this moment for a long time and we are absolutely thrilled to see the very last mile of this incredibly popular section of the trail completed,” Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area Executive Director Elaine Schaefer said.
“When this last gap is closed, all of the economic, health and transportation benefits the trail brings will increase exponentially for those upriver towns that will now be directly connected all the way to Philadelphia. We’re so grateful to DCNR, DVRPC and Montgomery County for making this vital investment that will support the revitalization of this whole corridor.”
“This project will close the second-to-last gap on the SRT between Birdsboro and Philadelphia to help create 47 continuous miles of the Schuylkill River Trail,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition. “We couldn’t be more excited for this segment to get underway and congratulate DNCR and Montgomery County for building out the Circuit.”
“The Schuylkill River Trail is a treasure and source of pride for our community,” said State Rep. Joe Ciresi. “With the help of state DCNR funding in trail improvements and closing gaps for a seamless connection from Manayunk to Reading, it will only serve as a better recreational, natural, and cultural asset, improving the quality of life for our residents and providing an attraction for tourists and visitors.”
The trail project is located in the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape. The Schuylkill Highlands Partnership integrates the inspiration and action of many partners throughout the six-county landscape. The Partnership devotes its attention and expertise to protecting and preserving this critical landscape in a manner that will ensure its vibrant sustainable economic future.
DCNR provides grants to myriad projects across the commonwealth annually, including a $70 million investment during the 2021-22 fiscal year. Its Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants can fund:
Planning, acquisition, and development of public parks and recreation areas
Motorized and non-motorized trails
River conservation and access
Heritage areas and facilities
Conservation of critical habitat, natural areas and open space
Eligible applicants for these grants include counties, municipalities, municipal agencies, nonprofit organizations, state heritage areas, prequalified land trusts, and for-profit enterprises. Grant funding for the program comes from a variety of state funding sources including Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, Environmental Stewardship Fund, ATV and Snowmobile Management Restricted Accounts, Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program, and federal sources including the Recreational Trails Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. DCNR selects the most appropriate funding source based on the applicant and proposed project.
Pennsylvania has more than 6,100 local parks. Under the administration of Governor Tom Wolf, DCNR has awarded more than $342 million in grants to 1,965 projects across the commonwealth.