Building a trail network isn’t as easy as drawing lines on a map. It takes time, thoughtful planning and importantly, money. While trails aren’t cheap to construct, studies have shown time and again that they more than make up for their cost with economic, environmental and social benefits to communities. That’s why we encourage our municipal partners to look at trails as a long-term investment in their community.
But that all-important piece of the puzzle, money, doesn’t grow on trees. Do where does the money for trails come from? Well, there are a few different places.
First, there are pools of public funding available for infrastructure and transportation projects. Some are even specifically for trails. These sources are competitive and organizations must apply to have a project considered. Some examples include North Carolina’s Land and Water Fund (LWF) or Park and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF).
Another option is private funding. This might come from an individual, corporation, foundation or other private entity. The implementation grants that the Thread Trail offers to communities are one example of this type of funding. While these funds are typically smaller in amount compared to public funds, they can sometimes be leveraged to bring in additional money, or they can help close the gap for a project that is close to full funding.
Finally, an additional option for funding trail projects is through project-specific local taxpayer funding. These funds are approved by voters through a ballot initiative and are often in the form of a sales tax or bond that dedicates the money raised to a specific project. Local municipalities often employ this method to raise money for trails and greenways in their communities. In fact, the City of Mount Holly, North Carolina has a bond referendum for parks and greenways on the November 2021 ballot. Funds raised from this bond would help build 7 additional miles of trail and expand a park in downtown Mount Holly.
Have more questions about funding for trails? The Thread Trail is here as a resource and our team is always happy to chat and answer questions. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org!