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Park Service OKs $250 million for conservation

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit  

By Environmental News Network staff

(ENN) -- The National Park Service (NPS) is giving $250 million to 46 states to help local communities conserve and manage land and water resources outside the jurisdiction of the federal government, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt announced Monday.

The funds from the NPS's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program will be used to help out 209 conservation projects. In total, the projects include 1,100 miles of new trails, 1,200 miles of additional river corridors and 35,000 acres of expanded park land and open spaces.

More than 1,000 national and local partners have worked with RTCA on projects in the past decade. Partners include nonprofit organizations and local, county and state governments.

This year, 87 projects will begin, work will continue on 52 and 87 will be completed.

"This program is one of the best examples we have of making government work better and more efficiently. It helps local communities and provides recreation opportunities for millions of people," said Babbitt.

One organization gaining support from the RTCA is the Middlebury Area Land Trust which has been working for the past several years to construct a 14-mile trail around the town of Middlebury, Vermont.

The land trust will use the NPS funds to pay for a camera ready mechanical to be used in the production of a high-quality map of the trail, said Bud Reed of the Middlebury Area Land Trust.

Reed said that the map will be used to "ratchet up knowledge of the trail" in order to get people to use the trail. The trail is little more than a mile from completion.

Another group receiving support is the Natural Resources Conservation Service which is working on the San Francisco Urban Resources Partnership. This project aims to give technical assistance to community conservation efforts in lower-income and under-served neighborhoods in the San Francisco area.

Copyright 1998, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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