The area is set to receive two state grants totaling more than $700,000 for recreation projects, state officials announced Wednesday.

The first project will provide public access to the 62 acres at Laurel Ridge by constructing an access road and turnaround off state Route 271 near Upper Yoder Township and Westmont Borough-owned property.

That work has been designated $451,900.

“This grant will allow for off-road access to the adjacent recreational areas and also provide appropriate parking areas to accommodate all types of users, including buses, snowmobilers, hikers, bicyclists and equestrian riders,” state Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, said in a release.

The area had previously been eyed for a large windmill development, but that plan was meant with public resistance.

Also announced Wednesday was Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority’s receipt of $249,538 to assist with the extension of the Ghost Town Rail Trail Loop located in Ebensburg Borough and Blacklick Township.

The project involves extending the existing trail network by 1.16 miles from Beulah Road in Ebensburg to Nanty Glo.

It will also address storm water management, embankment excavation to create at-grade crossings, clean up of existing culverts and trail signs.

“I’m so pleased that our area will benefit from these grants, which will fund projects that will improve the quality of life for area residents,” state Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Richland Township, said in a release. “These are important investments in our natural resources, public safety and economic development and vital to our future.”

The grants were awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, which is funded with money assessed by the Pennsylvania through the state’s impact fee that’s paid by unconventional natural gas producers.

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