The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: National Park Service Funds Trail Projects in 22 States: The National Park Service announced today that nearly one million dollars in trail grants will be awarded to 14 trails in 22 states and Washington DC.The 2012 Connect Trails to Parks Awards will provide a total of $934,000 to 14 projects where national historic and scenic trails intersect with national parks and other federal facilities. The projects will restore or improve existing trails and trailhead connections, provide better wayside and interpretive services, encourage innovative educational services, support bridge and trailhead designs, and provide planning services for important trail gateways.Many of the projects reflect National Park Service priorities such as expanding outreach, connecting to youth, enhancing urban recreation, promoting healthy lifestyles, and upgrading interpretive materials as outlined in the agency’s A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement. In addition to operating 397 parks across the United States and its territories, the National Park Service plays a vital role in overseeing the 52,000-mile National Trails System.The Connect Trails to Parks program is designed to increase awareness, appreciation, and use of the nation’s federally-designated system of trails. The years from 2008 to 2018 have been declared "A Decade for the National Trails" ramping up to the trails system's 50th anniversary in 2018. Many of these projects will help specific trails and their related federal facilities to achieve goals associated with this commemorative decade.