By Kimberly Cauvel / The Skagit Valley Herald
The state Recreation and Conservation Office has awarded more than $130,000 in grants to help maintain backcountry and snow-park trails in Skagit and Whatcom counties over the next two years.
The state Parks and Recreation Commission will receive $109,000 to plow six Sno-Parks and maintain 166 miles of snowmobile trails near Mount Baker.
The Mount Baker area is the third-most popular recreation area of the state, with its views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, according to the state agency. It also has the longest riding season with ample snow, but funding often runs out early.
The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will receive $21,640 to maintain 90 miles of hiker and stock-animal trails off of Highway 20 and Highway 542.
An estimated 100,000 visitors explore the trails each year, according to the state agency. Heavy use combined with a wet climate often results in fallen trees and overgrown brush that need removal, and drainage structures and trail surfaces that need repair.
The conservation office announced the awards Thursday.
They are part of a $1.3 million package targeted at fixing backcountry trails, grooming mountain trails for snowmobilers and restoring trails for off-road vehicles. Money was awarded to 17 counties for 31 projects.
The grants are from the federally funded Recreational Trails Program and federal gasoline taxes attributed to recreational, nonhighway uses.