The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation’s (OOR) sixth grant cycle of the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG), has awarded almost $6 million in grant funding to 58 different outdoor recreation infrastructure projects throughout the state. This year marks the highest amount of grant funding given.
These funds will create an estimated impact of over $42.83 million statewide, including grants, matching funds and private investments. The 2020 UORG cycle generated a 7-to-1 return-on-investment for state funds and awarded 64% of its funds to rural counties.
“We continue to be amazed at the number of projects created due to the UORG grant,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “Outdoor recreation plays a big part in Utahns’ lifestyles, and we hope our communities will continue to take advantage of this grant to benefit even more of Utah’s outdoor recreation infrastructure.”
Since the grant’s inception in 2015, a total of $16 million in Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant funding has been awarded to 213 projects in 25 Utah counties. Rural counties benefited from 60% of grant projects. Those 200-plus projects have a total project value of over $121 million, representing a rare jewel for Utah compared to other states. The six-year grant initiative proves Utah is committed to enhancing the quality of life for residents and access to the state’s remarkable outdoors for residents and visitors alike.
Along with the traditional UORG grant, two new funding programs were introduced this year: 1) the Regional Asset Tier, funding up to $500,000 for projects costing $2 million or more, and 2) the Recreation Restoration Infrastructure (RRI) grant, for rehabilitating existing infrastructure.
UORG helps Utahns live active and healthy lifestyles by investing in trails, campgrounds, waterways and more. With this year’s trail work combined from all projects, the state will see 62 miles of new recreational trails, and 200 miles of trail restored. Also, 87 campsites and structures will be rehabilitated. Recreators will get to experience 39 new infrastructure sites for camping, archery, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and more.
“Utah prioritizes providing access to recreation opportunities on all of its public lands,” said Pitt Grewe, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. “The Office of Outdoor Recreation is devoted to making sure everyone across the state can find opportunities to recreate near their home. Whether you are a hiker, paddler, climber, biker, OHV or winter sports enthusiast, the state’s grant programs help ensure Utahns get a chance to get outside.”
The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation received 87 complete applications between the three different grants available during this funding cycle. The 14-member Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant advisory committee reviewed the submissions and granted awards to 58 projects. The amounts awarded ranged from $4,000 to $500,000 per project. Awardees have two years to complete the projects before receiving the full reimbursement of awarded grant funds.
RRI recipient Christijan Draper of Dagget County Trails Committee said, “Speaking for the Flaming Gorge Community Foundation and the Daggett County Trails Committee, we’re excited to have the financial support provided by the Utah Recreation Restoration Infrastructure grant. The funding will help an important project move forward in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and Daggett County. We’re thrilled that this project will allow visitors to more easily and safely enjoy this scenic canyon and its world-class fishery in Utah’s recreation frontier.”