The Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation has received a grant to work on ways of bringing trail groups together.
The $25,000 grant from the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation will explore the feasibility of establishing a “Friends of Chautauqua County Greenways Group.” This effort will bring together various trails organizations and determine how best they can work together as a Friends group to provide mutual support and seek funding together.
Chautauqua County has also set aside $250,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for trail maintenance and upgrades. The County plans to purchase new trail maintenance equipment to improve efficiency, and repair bridges on the Overland Trails, among other projects. Funding was also allocated for various trail projects, including major improvements to the Westside Overland Trail in Chautauqua Gorge and Mount Pleasant State Forests, the installation of trailhead kiosks on the Overland Trails and the Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails, new trail signs on the Overland Trails, and trail maintenance projects on the Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails.
County Parks Commission member Jacob Bodway said the promise of a comprehensive “Friends Group” will help break down the silos that have made it difficult for communication and county-wide planning, “The ‘Friends Group’ will help get everyone on the same page and will enable us to seek larger grant dollars for future trail projects. This moment represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade and expand the county’s greenspaces and to market the county as a regional leader in outdoor recreation.”
The County Planning Department has also been working in partnership with the Town of Westfield to develop the Welch Trail, which will connect downtown Westfield to Chautauqua Creek via a mile-long loop trail. The project, funded through a grant from the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation, is expected to be completed this spring. The Department has also been working to secure easements for a portion of trail that would connect Barcelona Harbor to the Chautauqua Institution, with additional funding from OPRHP.
For more information on Chautauqua County’s ongoing trail development projects and access to the County Greenway Plan, visit planningchautauqua.com/planning/trails/.