New and improved hiking trails are on the way for the West Kootenay. The Columbia Basin Trust has handed out its first round of funding for the Trail Enhancement Grants. Just under $500,000 was allocated for 29 projects. Michelle d’Entremont is the Manager of Delivery of Benefits with the Trust and says it’s the first time they’ve ramped up funding specifically for trail improvements.

“We’ve heard from residents that this is a priority. We’re looking at different aspects of recreation and physical activity, but the support for trails comes through really strongly here… It’s exciting.”

The grants cover a wide range of trail improvements from becoming more accessible and user friendly to reducing environmental impacts, to adding new amenities.

Three initiatives in Nakusp received a combined total of over $30,000. The Arrow Lakes Cross Country Ski Club and Nakusp and Area Community Forest were both recipients and will be rehabilitating some trails as well as developing infrastructure, like picnic tables.

d’Entremont highlights an initiative in Castlegar that received just over $5,100.

“The Castlegar Friends of Parks and Trails Society, they’re going to increase signage and rehabilitate the Lower Mary Creek Trail and their goal is to improve accessibility for users.”

In Nelson, the Kootenay Mountaineering Club received $14,000 to develop a three kilometer hiking trail along the West Ridge of White Queen mountain. The Kootenay Columbia Trails Society received $10,000 for development of the Trail Aspen Loop which will be a beginner level trail that increases accessibility to the existing Bluffs trail network.

The Trust’s total contribution is $1.5-million over three years with the next intake opening on April 4.

You can find a full list of all 29 projects here and visit the Trust’s website for more information.