Wild Trails Grants Wishes

For every brilliant idea, there has to be someone who believes in it and, more importantly, is willing to provide the funds to make the idea come to fruition.

Wild Trails, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, began offering grant funding in 2011 that would help bring to life short-term ideas on how to promote, expand and protect trails in greater Chattanooga.

“We started this whole adventure out of the Rock/Creek Trail Series,” says Mark McKnight, Rock/Creek ecommerce and marketing director and Wild Trails board member. “We had a couple of races that were generating a lot of proceeds and we had always donated that money, but Rock/Creek really wanted more accountability in terms of wanting to see really concrete evidence of what our money was doing and we wanted to have a hand in shaping how our resources were going to be used in the future.”

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Micah Morrison clears the trial at Lula Lake

Wild Trails awards five grants of up to $2,000 over two cycles (one in the summer and one in the winter) to fund projects such as trail building, buying equipment or making repairs. Grant recipients are required to provide an update midway through and at the conclusion of their project.

“The real point that Wild Trails is trying to make is to find short-term measurable success,” says Chad Wamack, president of the board of directors for Wild Trails. “We want to see short-term projects that can hopefully be done in a year’s time.”

Organizations applying for grant funding must submit a proposal to Wild Trails with information such as project goals, projected outcomes and an explanation of how the funding would be used. “We hope that we will be able to give away more,” says Wamack. “I think in years to come the sky’s the limit as far as what the grant cycle can reach as far as a dollar figure. The trails are expanding on a monthly basis; it’s just amazing what’s going on. The resources out there are incredible, but so is the need for maintenance and improving.”

WINTER CYCLE RECIPIENTS

Lookout Mountain Conservancy:

Plans to create a connector trail from the proposed Riverwalk extension to John Wilson Park.

Southeast Climbers Coalition:

Plans to do trail maintenance and plant vegetation for the Stone Fort climbing area where the Triple Crown climbing competition is held on Mowbray Mountain.

Summer Cycle

The deadline for proposals for the upcoming summer cycle is June 15. For more information email Randy Whorton, director of Wild Trails, at events@rockcreek.com or visit wildtrails.org/grants.html.

Lula Lake Land Trust:

Plans to create a trail building tool library including hoes, picks and other equipment that anyone would be able to check out and use for their own projects.

Cumberland Trail Conference:

Plans to do maintenance and repair work on a suspension bridge, as well as to reestablish certain trailheads by posting better signage.

Friends of the Cumberland Trail:

Plans to provide search and rescue equipment such as ropes, lights and descending devices for employees in the event of an emergency.

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