Nevada receives $160,000 for nation’s first-ever recreation trail building school

Nevada leaders are excited to announce the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is providing a $160,000 grant to the Nevada-based Great Basin Institute (GBI) to establish the nation’s first-ever professional recreation trail building school in Ely, Nevada. The EDA grant will fund feasibility studies, economic analyses, and other preliminary work to support creation of the trail building school. The school will be open to Nevadans as well as all current and aspiring outdoor recreation professionals throughout the country.

Led by GBI with support from the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation (NDOR), White Pine County Tourism and Recreation, White Pine Main Street Association, and U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, this historic undertaking aims to further solidify Nevada as a world-class outdoor recreation destination, while strengthening our economy, creating new jobs, and advancing workforce development opportunities in Nevada’s growing outdoor recreation sector.

“I pushed hard to make sure that EDA grants would go to states like Nevada with hard-hit tourism and travel industries, so we can continue our recovery from the pandemic,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This grant to the Great Basin Institute will help students get hands-on experience preparing for careers in Nevada’s world-class outdoor recreation industry, and I’ll keep working in the Senate to help promote Nevada jobs in this sector.”

The EDA planning grant will support a market analysis for professional trail building, and examine how to leverage and maximize new federal funds being invested in outdoor recreation and trail building nationally. “This initial feasibility study will generate key data and analysis on recreational trails, along with a deeper understanding of how local economies benefit from outdoor recreation infrastructure,” said Jerry Keir, Executive Director of Great Basin Institute. The grant will also explore opportunities to advance workforce development for Tribal nations regionally and nationally.

Trails are critical outdoor recreation infrastructure and key drivers of economic and community development. In Nevada, outdoor recreation contributes $5.5 billion to the State’s economy each year, and supports more than 59,000 jobs statewide. “White Pine County continues to redevelop its economy around numerous interconnected trail systems in and near Ely,” said Kyle Horvath, director of White Pine County Tourism and Recreation. “Ely and its beautiful mountain landscape is centrally located in the Mountain West where trail-based outdoor recreation is booming, and Nevada is well-positioned to take advantage of training new trail building workforces on our public lands.”

Ensuring equitable, sustainable access to outdoor recreation opportunities and trails is integral to creating healthy, vibrant communities. “Outdoor recreation and trail use has exploded in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the critical importance of all communities having opportunities to escape to the outdoors for our physical and mental health,” said Colin Robertson, Administrator of the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation. “As the demand for outdoor recreation continues to grow, the need for skilled workers who can plan, design, build and expand trails is more pressing than ever. The Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation is proud to support efforts to establish a premier trail building training school right here in the Silver State, and I thank all of our partners who helped advance this landmark project.”

A request for proposals to conduct the planning study will be released by Great Basin Institute in early October.

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--Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources