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Amazing new resource shares all government funding sources available for trails in Oregon

40-Mile Loop volunteer Jim Sjulin at the Quarterly Trails Forum last week.

A retired Portland Parks and Recreation planner has just gifted the transportation community something very, very special.

If you’ve ever tried to secure funding for a trail or path project, or advocate for one, you can relate to the dizzying array of acronyms and information that comes with it. What starts as an exciting idea to create a new bike path, can end up leading you down a rabbit-hole of application deadlines, funding parameters, and clunky government websites. It’s enough to cause premature burnout in even the most hardened advocrat.

Jim Sjulin knows this feeling well. As a retired Parks employee and current volunteer with 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, he’s ferreted his share of funding pots. I was impressed with Sjulin’s excellent work to fund remaining gaps on the Marine Drive bike path, but his latest effort is on a whole nother level.

At the Quarterly Trails Forum hosted by Metro on July 14th, Sjulin shared a spreadsheet with information on every government funding source available for trail projects in Oregon. To the uninitiated, that might not sound like a big deal. But once you browse the document, it’s scope and value become apparent.

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Screenshot of the funding source matrix.

Sjulin’s spreadsheet includes comprehensive information on 34 different grants and funding sources — most of them administered by Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Transportation, and Metro. A matrix tab on the spreadsheet with all the sources includes about 30 columns of information for each one, with everything from how much the sources can pay out, what they’ve funded in the past, the right agency staff person to contact for information, and much more. Sjulin has also created a user guide, a special page about how to navigate federal funds, a separate sheet for each funding source, and a sheet with definitions for 85 different acronyms and abbreviations.

“I just felt like somebody needed to put together a kind of a matrix of all the government funding sources that help trails come to pass, so I undertook this little volunteer job,” said an extremely modest Sjulin at the trails forum last week.

This document has immense value to planners and advocates. I have a feeling I’ll use it very often in story research.

As with any project like this, the information is only as good as its accuracy. Keeping this resource updated will be a huge job given how often government programs change. Sjulin has committed to doing it for one year, after which time he hopes to pass the baton to someone else.

The Government Funding Sources for Trails document is being hosted by the Oregon Trails Coalition. Find the link to the document and more information on their website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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