WALHALLA, N.D.-The Pembina Gorge Foundation is again applying for an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant, this time for $865,000 to help add a downhill mountain bike trails and a wildlife observation point.
In total, the projects will cost more than $1.7 million, according to an estimate from Kristi Wilfahrt, the foundation's interim director. The Outdoor Fund turned down a Pembina Gorge application this summer for $1.3 million, as part of the foundation's $6.2 million Fire-up 4 Frost Fire campaign to replace a nearly $1.9 million chairlift.
This time, the foundation is requesting funds to "help conserve, access and expand recreation and wildlife activities at Frost Fire Park," Wilfahrt wrote in an application to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which oversees the Outdoor Fund.
"Frost Fire provides access to recreation enthusiasts of all types," Wilfahrt wrote in the application. "However, we've uncovered equipment and facility needs that have presented challenges for continued program expansion and operation sustainability. That is why we are looking to the Outdoor Heritage Fund for urgent assistance."
Outdoor Fund advisory board members who voted to decline the the foundation's first request said the application didn't meet program standards for conservation and agriculture.
In her application, Wilfahrt emphasized the project meets two other important standards-recreation and access for sportsmen.
"Also, recreation is the easiest way to attract kids to conservation and to reconnect children with nature," Wilfahrt wrote. "As hunting numbers are on the decline, Frost Fire has the ability to create programming to introduce and teach others about wildlife and hunting opportunities."
The previous application focused on replacing a $1.9 million ski lift, excluding biking trail and equipment costs. Even without the Outdoor Fund, the foundation went forward with replacing the lift.
In June, the Red River Regional Council posted a Facebook video of the old chairlift coming down.
"This 70-year old lift has served more than two useful lives, and we are grateful for all of the use it received serving skiers and snowboarders in the region," the post said. "Praying the Outdoor Heritage Fund finds it within themselves to assist in funding the new lift next month!"
The Industrial Commission said a technical board for the fund had already met Aug. 2. The advisory board will meet and listen to presentations Monday. Advisory board recommendations will then go to the Industrial Commission, who will vote on project Sept. 14.
Wilfahrt was not available for immediate comment on her application.