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Natl. Park Service to Help 250 Communities

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Brown dots mark locations of RCTA projects in 2011. Map courtesy of National Park Service

The National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program  announced that it will help more than 250 communities with projects that improve local access to nature.

A complete list of projects by state is available at http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/rtca/whatwedo/projects_by_state.html

According to a news release, RTCA provides expertise and planning assistance for community-led natural resource and recreation projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Every year, RTCA partnerships develop or conserve about 2,000 miles of trails, 1,000 miles of river and 70,000 acres of open space and parks.

“One of the major goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative is to connect people to nature by expanding recreational opportunities,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Through the RTCA program, the National Park Service works with local governments and organizations to provide close to home outdoor experiences for millions of people.”

Isabel Babiak, a 13-year-old from rural Naknek, Alaska, understands how RTCA can help. She sought advice on how to establish a trail to her school. RTCA worked with her to plan a route, gather support, identify partners, develop interagency relationships, seek funding, and find volunteers. In a ceremony last September, Isabel had the honor of cutting the ribbon for the new 2.3-mile Neknek Sockeye Run Fitness Trail & Bike Path. The trail, which connects the school to the town’s clinic, pool, senior center, community center, and athletic fields, also includes scenic viewpoints, a playground and exercise equipment.

“RTCA, the entire community, and a long list of partners, really rallied around Isabel and helped make her vision a reality,” said Jack Walsh, the superintendent of schools in Bristol Bay Borough. “This off-road trail has made a big difference in our community and reminds us of the constant need to think about public recreation and physical activity levels, especially when it comes to young people.”

Applications for 2014 RTCA projects are due by Aug. 1, 2013. Visit www.nps.gov/rtca for more information.

 

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