ALLEN CO., Ind. (ADAMS) – The Allen County Board of Commissioners says the Indiana Department of Natural Resources informed them on Thursday that its grant application for nearly $3.3 million for further construction of the Pufferbelly Trail has been approved.
The money comes from the state’s Next Level Trails program. A total of $25 million was available for the first round of the program and Allen County’s project was one of 17 chosen to receive funding from among the 82 projects which had been submitted, according to the DNR.
Allen County will work with Fort Wayne Trails, Inc. to meet with property owners to secure approvals for land purchases so that the Pufferbelly Trail construction can be completed between Life Bridge Trailhead and Fitch Road — about 4.3 miles — near the north county line. Fort Wayne Trails has already successfully raised $100,000 for this project, which is planned to be completed within the next two years. The town of Huntertown has also committed $125,000 for its portion of the project.
“Allen County has recognized that connecting our communities through trail systems such as the Pufferbelly Trail ultimately improves the quality of life for all of our citizens. The Pufferbelly has the potential to be a great resource for our entire community and we are proud to assist in the effort to build this active transportation network through our financial partnership with Fort Wayne Trails and other entities,” said the Board of Commissioners.
“Fort Wayne Trails was pleased to partner with Allen County and Huntertown to submit this winning proposal,” said Kent Castleman, executive director of Fort Wayne Trails. “The Pufferbelly Trail was envisioned by citizen advocates and continues to be a top of priority for our organization. We are very pleased to add the additional mileage and connection to an estimated 10,000 residents and 4,200 homes within one mile of the planned trail. The connection to Huntertown gives those residents access to an existing 28 miles of trail in northern Allen County and the City of Fort Wayne.”
Once it is fully completed, the Pufferbelly Trail will extend from the northern edge of Allen County south 13 miles where it will connect with the Rivergreenway in downtown Fort Wayne. The Pufferbelly Trail is one segment of a State Visionary Trail that will ultimately be 80 miles long, running from Pokagon State Park in Angola to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton.