NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Spending time outdoors lately has been limited by forest closures and raging wildfires. However, the state is aiming to expand access and grow outdoor recreation by investing millions of dollars in federal grant funding into the outdoor recreation industry.

The first 15 recipients were announced today. Some of the first counties awarded grant money this year include Cibola, San Juan, and McKinley county.

San Juan County received $250,000. Their hopes include taking an abandoned railroad between the city of Farmington and Aztec and create a trail alongside it.

“We greatly appreciate the investment that the outdoor recreation department is making in this project because we think its an extremely valuable project to the region and truly will provide us a world-class trail system when completed,” said Mike Stark, San Juan County Manager.

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Projects received between $30,000 to $500,000. Kerry Wood with the Cibola National Forest said there are different projects in his area. These include funding for Sandia Nordic Ski Club, McKenzie Ridge Trail, and construction for the Lobo Canyon Trails.

“This is a great program. We’re really lucky that the state has decided to implement this level of funding towards trails here in New Mexico and really excited that we have the opportunity to work with these partners,” said Wood.

The town of Silver City hopes to turn the Water Works Property, which held the first public water system, into a trail and possible museum. “We’re trying to multi-purpose it into today’s world while maintaining the history and supporting the trails and open space,” said James Marshall, Silver City Assistant Town Manager.

Applications for the grant are open through 2022 with the second round of recipients anticipated to be named in the Fall.