BROOKFIELD — Nature lovers may be able to take longer hiking or biking trips into local backcountry, as efforts are under way to expand the Cotton Valley Trail from Wolfeboro through Brookfield into Sanbornville.
According to an update from the Wakefield/Brookfield Trails to Rails Action Committee, the group received a New Hampshire Bureau of Trails grant of $30,000, with the condition that the group raise $10,000 in matching funds.
According to project coordinator Ernest "Ernie" Brown of Brookfield, the group has raised $5,000 in matching funds from the Wolfeboro Trails to Rails Action Committee, $1,000 from Moose Mountain Regional Greenways, another $500 from the Miss Wakefield Diner on Route 16, and $500 in donations from Brookfield citizens.
"We still need to raise another $3,000 and equally important, we need volunteers when we start construction in July," he said.
Moose Mountain Regional Greenways chairman Art Slocum said his organization supports the effort as it provides a "great pathway for all to enjoy."
"MMRG is dedicated to both conservation and outdoor recreation for the towns that we support. Hopefully, this new beginning will eventually result in this trail being extended to connect with Wolfeboro Cotton Valley and Bridge Falls trails," he said.
'We hope that with this contribution this part of the trail will soon be completed so people from our area and beyond can walk, bike and run on this new path while they are able to get outdoors and view the woodlands and wetlands along this scenic path," he said.
The proposed path would begin at Turntable Park in Sanbornville and go to Route 16 as Phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 would then develop the trail from the Miss Wakefield Diner to Clark Road in Brookfield.
The plan was submitted to the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails in January 2013 and was verbally approved in April 2013. Brown notes that the group will not begin spending the funds until construction begins in July.
To that end, they will need volunteers to work on the trail expansion.
"We will need not only funds, but donations of labor and materials and the use of equipment — any donation will, of course, reduce the cost of preparing the trail," according to the committee project update.
The goal is to raise $3,000 in volunteer labor and another $3,000 in matching funds for the state grant. Any funds raised beyond that will be used to expand the trail toward Wolfeboro, according to the committee.
The project has the support of the Brookfield Heritage Commission, Brookfield Conservation Commission, Wakefield Parks and Recreation Department, Wakefield Heritage Commission, Wakefield Conservation Commission, and both the Brookfield and Wakefield select boards.