Let’s Connect trail project lands $1 million in federal funds

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The Dallas County Conservation Board has been awarded $1 million to complete the remaining four miles of the Raccoon River Valley Trail to High Trestle Trail connector.

The Dallas County Conservation Board has been awarded $1 million to complete the remaining four miles of the Raccoon River Valley Trail to High Trestle Trail connector, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced Monday.

The federal funding derives from the American Rescue Plan Act and is administered at the state level by the IEDA. The connector-trail project will close the gap of the 120-mile continuous loop of trail and connect the state’s two most popular trails.

“With these grant funds, existing local funds and at least one more grant to come in, we are in a great position to complete the Raccoon River Valley Trail to High Trestle Trail Connector project,” said Mike Wallace, executive director of the Dallas County Conservation Board. “It is anticipated that most of the final 4 miles could be completed in 2023. The final
mile or so could be completed in 2024.”

The RRVT-HTT connector is one of four projects around the state to share $16.5 million in grant funding through the Destination Iowa program. The $100 million program, announced in April, invests federal funds “in transformational attractions that will bolster the quality of life in Iowa communities and attract visitors and new residents,” according to an IEDA press release.

The other grant winners included the Siouxland Regional Trail System, which was awarded $7 million for a five-trail project, and Universal Television LLC, which received $6 million to produce the Field of Dreams television series. The Polk County Conservation Department was awarded $2.5 million for the Easter Lake North Shore Project.

The IEDA will continue to review Destination Iowa applications through Dec. 31 or until funding runs out. Applications are scored based on the projects’ eligibility, completeness and ability to meet the program goal of creating transformational tourism attractions.

Cities, counties, nonprofits and other organizations can apply for Destination Iowa grants through four separate funds: Economically Significant Development, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism Attraction and Creative Placemaking.

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