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The City of Redlands was awarded $899,911 from the California Natural Resources Agency this week for work on a segment of the Orange Blossom Trail.

The grant was part of more than $34 million in funding for 33 proposed river parkway projects statewide. These projects will create recreation opportunities for families, restore fish and wildlife habitat, provide flood management, and enhance California’s river parkways.

“Our river parkway grants help communities connect children with nature, promote public health by providing families with greater outdoor recreational opportunities, and protect the rivers that provide us with clean water,” said California’s Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “The river parkways program is a great example of local agencies working together with the state to create increasingly sustainable communities in California.”

Redlands’ portion of the state grant will fund a 1.23-mile segment of trail adjacent to the Zanja creek from California Street to Alabama Street. Work will include project engineering, CEQA costs and construction.

This section of the trail will provide an array of recreational opportunities and provide historical interpretive enhancements. Signage will explain the history of the adjacent portion of the Zanja, which was built and realigned through a collaborative effort involving the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.

The Orange Blossom Trail is a nearly eight-mile proposed trail loop located primarily within existing flood control and railroad right-of-way, connecting at each end to the planned Santa Ana River Trail.

The Natural Resources Agency also announced grant awards for 32 other river parkway projects that will benefit communities throughout the state. The grants will be used to acquire, restore, protect and develop areas along rivers, streams and creeks to conserve natural resources and improve public access. In total, the grants will fund more than 31 miles of trails and more than 7,500 acres of wildlife habitat restoration and land acquisition.

In 2006, California voters passed Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act, which authorized the Legislature to appropriate funds to benefit river parkway projects.

The California River Parkways Program, a competitive grant program administered by the secretary for natural resources, awards funds to public agencies and non-profit organizations to develop river parkways in their communities.

All proposed projects awarded funding must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Funding for proposed project implementation is contingent upon satisfactory evidence of compliance with CEQA. To be approved by lead agency decision makers, the proposed projects may change as a result of the CEQA process. However, any changes to the proposed projects must continue to meet all the objectives of the River Parkways Program and be consistent with the intent cited in the original applications.

A list of the selected proposed projects can be found at http://resources.ca.gov/bond/RP_Awards_2012.Final.pdf.

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