NOVA Dollars fund Cle Elum District, Snoqualmie Trail Maintenance
Each fall, I get the opportunity to sit in a darkened room with other trail and non-trail recreationists, land managers and agency staff to watch dozens of PowerPoint presentations on important recreation projects. The NOVA Advisory Committee, which funds a huge variety of trails, trailheads, campgrounds and other facilities, listens intently to those who survive the preliminary application process, then scores grants accordingly. This year, the non-motorized category of the NOVA Program had just shy of $500,000 to allocate to more than $1.7 million in grant requests. When the need outstrips the available cash so dramatically, it means we have to make very difficult calls. Still, the results of our reviews this year benefited several very important proposals.
We funded desperately needed trail maintenance work in the Department of Natural Resource's (DNR) Snoqualmie District, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of hikers annually. Receiving $100,000--matched by $102,000 in DNR funds--this projects will repair trail tread, clear blowdowns and rebuild drainage at Mount Si, Rattlesnake Lake and Tiger Mountain, among other recreation areas in the Snoqualmie District.
The Cle Elum District was awarded $35,000 to work on non-wilderness, non-motorized trails. Those dollars will be spent repairing signage, fixing trails that are beginning to slough and dealing with the constant encroachment of the District's famous brush. The District also received $30,000 to maintain trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness such as Waptus River, Pete Lake, Rachel Lake, Deception Pass, and Pacific Crest.
While I'm always a little pained to spend what are invariably the last few beautiful days of the year poring over grant requests and watching PowerPoints, I'm always very pleased by the quality of the applications. The NOVA Program is critically important to recreation in Washington State, and the requesting agencies deserve every second of the time that Advisory Committee Members spend with their proposals. Since the reforms that the committee collaborated on in 2003 and 2004, the program has worked particularly well, and our committee has become even more tightly knit. Next year, we'll be reviewing grants requesting 70% of available NOVA dollars--rather than the 50% per biennium that has been typical--in an effort to keep less money on the table on a yearly cycle. We'll keep you updated on how that new process works.