Great Opportunity for Townships and Cities Along the Byway
Scenic byways can apply for up to $200,000 for any one project each year. They can also apply for smaller grant amounts and multiple projects. Over the years, Crow Wing County has served as fiscal agent for the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association.
The FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) administers funds for the National Scenic Byways Program grants. Under the grant guidelines 80% comes from federal funds and 20% from local match funds.
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway (PBSB) was a state designated route in 1998 and is a nationally designated route as of 2005. As such, it is eligible for these grants. Over the past ten years, the PBSB has applied for and has been awarded five grants through this program. Approximately $45,000 of local match investment yielded over $225,000 in project results ranging from live theater interpretive performances to corridor management planning documents for the organization.
What exactly is the range of eligible projects? How can cities and townships mesh their goals and dreams with the Byway Program's purpose? Are there opportunities for a byway-wide project that could benefit all 14 jurisdictions?
The eligibility question is the first hurdle. There are eight categories of eligibility. Minnesota's Scenic Byways Coordinator suggests that categories 4, 5 and 6 would be most suited to possible projects.
1. An activity related to the planning, design, or development of a scenic byway program.
2. Development and implementation of a corridor management plan.
3. Safety improvements to a State scenic byway, Indian tribe scenic byway, National scenic byway, or All-American road as a result of the designation as a scenic byway.
4. Construction along a scenic byway of a facility for pedestrians and bicyclists, rest area, turnout, highway shoulder improvement, overlook, or interpretive facility.
5. An improvement to a scenic byway that will enhance access to an area for the purpose of recreation, including water-related recreation.
6. Protection of scenic, historical, recreational, cultural, natural, and archaeological resources in an area adjacent to a scenic byway.
7. Development and provision of tourist information to the public, including interpretive information about byways.
8. Development and implementation of a scenic byway marketing program.
Most townships and cities have established planning documents that outline their short and long term goals. Looking at those goals against the backdrop of these eight categories may help determine how the two might mesh.
More detailed information on how National Scenic Byways Program grants work can be found at bywaysonline.org/grants.
To find out more about partnering with the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, email board chair, Lynn Scharenbroich.