Governor Eric Holcomb announced details for the fourth round of the Next Level Trails (NLT) grant program, which will dedicate an additional $30 million to connect communities through more hiking, biking, and riding trails across the state.
As part of the governor’s Next Level Connections initiative, NLT is the largest infusion of trails funding in state history. The now $180 million program is administered by the DNR and facilitates critical trail connections within and between Hoosier communities. To date, NLT has awarded $150 million to 75 projects across the state.
The fourth round will award up to $22.5 million to regional projects and up to $7.5 million to local projects. The application period for the fourth round begins July 1 and ends Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. CT. Eligible applicants include units of government or 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Applicants are limited to one application per round.
In addition to the major announcement, Gov. Holcomb joined officials from Elkhart to celebrate the opening of the River Greenway Trail. The 1.86-mile asphalt trail was built with help from a $642,600 NLT grant awarded in 2021 as part of the second round of NLT grant funding.
The new paved trail follows the Elkhart River and connects to the existing Mapleheart Greenway at Hively Avenue to create a contiguous link between Elkhart and the City of Goshen. The project also creates a connection between the Elkhart Environmental Center, Studebaker Park, Mary Beck Elementary School, and Elkhart High School. Key partners include the City of Elkhart Redevelopment Commission, Elkhart Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Elkhart County Community Foundation.
Including the River Greenway, 17 of the 75 NLT projects are complete, totaling 54.3 miles of trail built since the program’s inception in 2018.
More information about the fourth round of Next Level Trails can be found here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/state-parks/recreation/grants/next-level-trails/applicant-information/
I never see anyone using the existing trails. Around the country trails are magnets for crime, especially violent or sexual crimes. I need to see a plan for security on any trail built. Where is the money coming from. If it is gas tax money that is wrong. Gas taxes are for roads.
$186 million seems like a lot, but with nearly 7 million Hoosiers it works out to about $27 per resident. $104 for a family of four is a pretty good one time investment to some hiking and biking trails, especially with roads being generally unsafe because drivers like to video chat while they commute.
I was out at the Elkhart Envirocenter within the last year, and Jake (the guy in charge there) seems to genuinely care about doing right by the citizens. He was very excited about this trail, and I can see the benefit to it.