By JOE MANCHIN
CHARLESTON -- Last month, I joined representatives from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the West Virginia Department of Transportation to award more than $990,000 in Recreational Trail Program grant awards to 22 projects across our state.
These funds will help West Virginia communities develop and improve our state's outdoor recreational infrastructure.
Funded by the FHWA and administered by our state's Department of Transportation, the Recreational Trail grant program provides 80 percent of the eligible project cost, with the balance provided by the project sponsor.
Recreational trails are important to communities because they offer a place where visitors and residents, alike, can exercise, while also enjoying our state's scenic landscapes. Whether it is biking up and down emerald green mountains or enjoying a relaxing walk downtown, our state is known for its captivating natural beauty.
We can all agree that West Virginia is truly an outdoor state.
Therefore, we need to do more to make the best use of our beautiful scenery and recreational trails allow us to combine exercise, transportation and location to create an energetic and fun outdoor activity for all ages.
Thomas Jefferson probably said it best, "Walking is the best possible exercise." Well, President Jefferson might be disappointed to see how little exercise that many Americans are getting these days. Poor quality of health affects us all by increasing our health care costs and making it more difficult to attract businesses, because every employer wants healthy workers.
Recreational trails help us to promote preventive health measures because they give busy people a place to exercise and to spend time with their families -- outdoors. Exercise and fresh air refresh the mind and body, and help to keep our heart and lungs in shape. Not to mention, it makes us look and feel much better.
We must encourage active, healthy lifestyles. The Recreational Trail Program grant program helps to accomplish that, while also promoting our beautiful state. And, that is a wining combination.
For additional information about the Recreational Trail grant program, please visit www.wvdot.com.
Manchin is West Virginia's governor.