Wisconsin receives national awards for recreational and trail planning

Wisconsin recently received two national awards recognizing recreational planning and trails efforts.

The National Park Service and the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals presented the Wisconsin the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan Excellence Award on May 23 at the 2013 National Outdoor Recreation Conference in Traverse City, Mich.

The National Association of State Park Directors selected Wisconsin State Trails Council as the winner of the Coalition for Recreational Trails’ Achievement Award for outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program funds by a state recreational trails advisory committee. The award was presented June 4 at the 2013 Recreational Trails Program Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act requires states to evaluate the demand for and supply of outdoor recreation resources and to develop an implementation program to produce a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, or SCORP, every five years. The Wisconsin SCORP is compiled by the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Parks and Recreation.

The National Park Service and the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals created the annual SCORP Excellence Award to recognize a state SCORP process and product that exemplifies the spirit and intent of by planning for outdoor recreation places and opportunities to strengthen the health and vitality of citizens.

The Wisconsin SCORP highlights the growing demand for urban community gardens, the connection of urban recreational opportunities for a healthy population and outdoor recreational preferences and trends. It was developed with the assistance and support of a diverse array of outdoor recreation stakeholders representing local, state, and federal agencies; non-profit groups; outdoor industry groups; and other organizations directly linked to outdoor recreation.

“This award exemplifies the strong Wisconsin tradition of providing access to the many types of outdoor recreation choices” says DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

The Wisconsin State Trails Council is made up of 11 voting members appointed by the governor to four-year terms who are knowledgeable in various recreational uses of trails and serve as an advocate for trails. The council is responsible for providing counsel in administering Federal Recreational Trails Program funds.

Among the achievements recognized in the award is that the council recently established a maximum grant amount for the state’s Recreational Trails Program funding awards that has enabled smaller trail groups or projects to participate in the grant program. This enabled the apportioning of the available funding to be spread throughout the state. In 2012 the number of local grants awarded increased from eight in the previous grant cycle to 75.

“The Wisconsin State Trails Council is comprised of highly passionate representatives of the state’s diverse recreational trail user groups,” Stepp said. “Council members are deeply active in their respective associations, and bring an intimate knowledge of the individual, and often quite localized, issues facing their respective member groups and communities.”