REDLANDS -- The latest development in the Orange Blossom Trail is a good one.

Redlands was awarded $899,911 from the California Natural Resources Agency late last month.

Redlands' will use the money for a 1.23-mile segment of trail adjacent to the Zanja creek from California Street to Alabama Street. Work will include project engineering, California Environmental Quality Act costs and construction.

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

The Orange Blossom Trail is a nearly 8-mile proposed trail loop located primarily in existing flood-control and railroad right-of-way, connecting at each end to the planned Santa Ana River Trail.

When completed, the Orange Blossom Rail Trail will let hikers and bicyclists walk and ride from the Santa Ana River Trail south to a route that follows the Mission Zanja to the unused rail beds through the middle of town to Opal Avenue and back to the Santa Ana River Trail.

This section of the trail will provide an array of recreational opportunities and historical interpretive enhancements.

Signs 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.

"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 state Natural Resources Secretary 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."

The Natural Resources Agency also announced grant awards for 32 other river parkway projects that will benefit communities around 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.


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