San Juan County organizations will receive $58,557 from the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant
The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development announced they are awarding 7.6 million in matching grants for 99 outdoor recreation infrastructure projects.
Three organizations in San Juan County received funds through the matching grant program in 2021, with the largest portion going to the Bluff City Historic Preservation Association.
The association will receive $49,857 for the Bluff River Trail system, a 10.6-mile trail system that runs along the San Juan River stretching from Sand Island into town.
Necessary environmental documents were recently approved for the trail and preliminary work to establish the trail and entrance points from the town of Bluff are in beginning stages
The trail will be publicly accessible for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding, with additional plans to make a small part of the trail ADA accessible.
The nearly $50,000 grant from the state is just part of the estimated $270,000 cost to complete the project.
Additionally, the Friends of Cedar Mesa received $6,000 for an outdoor classroom at their Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff.
The space will be used for school educational programming, community star parties, and storytelling events.
Beyond using the shade structure and outdoor space for events and presentations, Friends of Cedar Mesa is currently working to develop new outside educational exhibits, which will detail the important geology and paleontology of southeastern Utah.
The $6,000 grant will cover half of the estimated $12,000 for the project.
Finally, the Canyon Country Discovery Center was awarded $2,700 to expand their outdoor classroom space at the campus in Monticello.
The project includes installing amphitheater seating, a shade sail over the seating, a native plant garden, and a small astronomy area.
The $2,700 grant will help cover the cost for the outdoor learning center. The total project has an estimated $7,900 cost.
The Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant receives funding from the state transient room tax, and, in 2021, the Utah Legislature supplemented the grant fund with an additional $4 million in one-time funding.
“We were excited to see so many people enjoying the great outdoors this past year. The sheer numbers of people on trails and in the campgrounds in 2020 were mind-blowing,” said Pitt Grewe, director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation.
“Communities are seeing the need to renovate decades-old trails or build new ones after seeing the demand increasing from both their residents and tourists. We’re happy to award these matching funds to enable cities, towns, counties, and nonprofits across Utah to invest in the outdoor recreation projects for which their residents are asking.
“The grants will enable communities to build a wide range of projects from trails and fishing piers to archery ranges for the enjoyment of both locals and visitors.”
Twenty-three of Utah’s 29 counties received project funding. Since 2015, the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant has awarded over $23.8 million to over 300 projects for building or restoring outdoor recreation infrastructure across Utah.
It awards up to $150,000 for building new trails and other types of recreation infrastructure and up to $500,000 in the Regional Asset Tier category.
In addition to funding new recreation infrastructure, the Office of Outdoor Recreation grants fund projects to rehabilitate existing infrastructure and projects to create permanent infrastructure to support nature-based STEM learning or outdoor recreation skill building for K-12 youth.