The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) recently announced the most significant grant funding to date from the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant.
The office will award $7.6 million in matching grants to 99 outdoor recreation infrastructure projects across Utah, totaling $54.4 million in project value — a 7:1 investment of state dollars. 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 Utah 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.”
The Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant supports significant infrastructure projects built in Utah communities in multi-year stages. A recent project example is the third phase of the Pahvant Mountain Bike Trail System in Sevier County, which was awarded $333,070. It will add 14 miles of single-track for a total of 47 miles of purpose-built mountain bike trails in the Richfield area.
Jimmy Seear, the co-founder of CSS Composites, said the company is establishing its composite manufacturing facility in Richfield and is excited about the rapidly expanding trail system in Sevier County. “Watching a town like Richfield invest in cycling infrastructure attracts manufacturing jobs to the community while offering endless trails to enjoy. Richfield City and Sevier County are doing a great job in establishing outdoor activities and trail systems to make it a fantastic community for both work and play,” said Seear.
Twenty-three of Utah’s 29 counties received project funding. Some examples of the funded projects are a river recreation project on the Logan River, a climbing anchor replacement project in Maple Canyon in Sanpete County, and an archery range on Antelope Island. Grewe added, “We remain committed to helping rural Utah. This year’s grant cycle saw a significant investment from the program, as the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant advisory committee awarded 70% of the grant funding to rural counties.”
The Zion Forever Project was awarded $500,000 for the second phase of the East Zion Mountain Bike Trail System in Kane county. The project creates a world-class recreational experience on the eastern gateway of the fourth most visited park in the National Park System. This project adds 24.5 miles to a 10-mile loop, built in the first phase of the project, connecting riders to a new East Zion Visitor center. The total cost of the project will be just over $2.1 million. Mark Preiss, Zion Forever Project director, said, “The East Zion Initiative is a legacy project that is made possible through the kind of public, private collaboration expressed through this grant program.”
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.
“The easy access to outdoor recreation opportunities significantly contributes to Utah’s quality of life, Utah’s economy, and the ability to attract and retain high-quality employees and jobs in the state,” said Dan Hemmert, GOED’s executive director. “The continued investment provided by the Office of Outdoor Recreation’s grant programs in outdoor recreation infrastructure will have lasting effects on the health and strength of its residents, businesses, and the economy.”
To learn more about the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant, visit business.utah.gov/outdoor/uorg.