'Indiana's Year of the Trails' Kicks Off in Starke County
The state kicks off a year-long celebration of trails Friday with a ribbon cutting on the Erie Trail Extension along the Great American Rail-Trail in North Judson. Governor Eric Holcomb declared 2021-2022 as "Indiana's Year of the Trails" following a resolution passed by the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says the designation "creates an opportunity to bring trails users, business owners, nonprofits, local and state elected officials, and other stakeholders together to experience Hoosier trails and share the value of walking, biking and other non-motorized infrastructure for all Indiana residents and visitors."
PHOTO CREDIT: MARTIN R. LUCAS
IPA member, the Northern Indiana Community Foundation supports trail systems in each of their county affiliates: Starke, Fulton, and Miami Counties. With over $62,000 granted to the Nickel Plate Trail that connects Fulton and Miami Counties and over $26,000 for the Erie Trail in Starke County, the Community Foundation is using grant dollars to build and sustain the quality of place through nature and open space that is uniquely abundant in the rural sections of these counties.
The Erie Trail is part of the American Discovery Trail from Delaware to California; the Great American Rail-Trail from Washington, DC to Washington State; and USBR 35 from Ontario to near New Orleans. The Nickel Plate trail is the 40+mile rail-trail corridor running from Kokomo in Howard County to Rochester in Fulton County.
Other events are set to take place this weekend in Muncie, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.
“Indiana’s Year of the Trails creates a meaningful opportunity to foster community around the trail network that’s growing across the state,” said Brian Housh, Midwest policy manager for the RTC and a lead organizer behind the initiative. “It gives us a chance to celebrate iconic projects like the Great American Rail-Trail, which will connect hundreds of miles of trail in Indiana and will bring significant economic, health, recreational, safety and other quality of life benefits to Hoosiers."
Housh says the celebration sets up for efforts during the next legislative session as trail stakeholders will be looking to secure permanent funding for the governor's $150 million Next Level Trails program, which was established in 2018. The RTC says permanent funding would amount to $10 million annually.