Money for trails: Alabama putting federal grants to much-needed use
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Jan 07, 2012 | 2322 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week, Gov. Robert Bentley announced that Alabama had received more than $700,000 from the Federal Highway Administration under the Recreational Trails Grant Program. This money will be used to underwrite projects that provide Alabamians more opportunities to hike, bike, boat, paddle and horseback ride.

In accepting the money, Bentley noted that “recreational trails offer many benefits to Alabama communities.” Trails “promote physical fitness, encourage family outings, increase tourism, and are a source of pride” wherever they are located.

Not everyone agrees.

Some argued that to balance the federal budget, non-essential items like this should be cut. Others took the governor to task for what seems to be bellying up to the federal trough rather than encouraging Washington to wean states from the federal subsidies.

However, Washington is doing what a government should do — returning tax money in the form of programs that benefit citizens and communities. To cut these programs would deny a segment of the population the recreational opportunities they enjoy and deserve. The governor was on target when he noted the health benefits, the family connections and the economic advantages these trails bring.

They are a wise investment in the future of our people and the places they live.

Among the grants, some went to Cherokee County. That money will be used to acquire additional land and construct trails at Cherokee Rock Village Park, to buy two miles of the abandoned Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia Railroad bed for trail use, and to construct overnight shelters along the Pinhoti Trail, which begins near Talladega and stretches north for 240 miles to where it joins the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.

Talladega and the Alabama Horse Council received $100,000 to rehabilitate and reconstruct 11 miles of local trails for hiking and horseback. The Alabama Hiking Trail Society also received a grant to buy trail buildings and maintenance equipment, some of which will be used in Jackson County.

These trails and facilities will be available for all to enjoy. It is right for the federal government to finance the projects.

We only wonder why Calhoun County did not get funding to extend the Chief Ladiga Trail from Weaver to Anniston. It is a worthy project that is long overdue.
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