BERLIN — The town of Berlin will be backing the Lower Shore Land Trust (LSLT) as the agency pursues roughly $500,000 in federal grants to protect and improve the Assateague corridor and bring nature lovers into town.

“Where we plan to focus on this grant application is the whole corridor between Berlin and Assateague,” said Kate Patton, director of LSLT. “The goal of the request is to secure funding that will lay the foundation to protect this scenic route, this gateway, that works both ways between Berlin and Assateague.”

Roughly $900,000 has been made available to Maryland from the federal government for such uses and is filed under the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP). The grants are only available for areas that connect to federal lands, and LSLT expects to request about $500,000.

The grant money could be used for a variety of projects along that Assateague corridor and around Berlin. The whole thing could tie into LSLT’s plans for a walkable, bikeable Berlin and could lead to the development of trails and paths.

“Once of the things that we feel is very important with this project is to make the trail head at Burbage Park,” said Patton. “It’s been recognized by the Parks Commission as a spot they would like to enhance and that would serve as a good trail head.”

Agricultural land would also be a target of grant funding. The idea is to safeguard the land and in turn attract visitors.

“By securing and protecting some of the existing farmland and scenic resources along this corridor, we can ensure that this gateway retains its rural heritage,” Patton said, “and the beauty that will continue to encourage recreation and encourage people to come explore that gateway.”

Not everyone realizes the actual dollars and cents impact of preserving natural land, noted Mayor Gee Williams.

“It’s generally not recognized that, as a group, nature tourism, eco-tourism, and adventure tourism visitors are among the highest per capita in terms of spending with the absolute pinnacle of those being birdwatchers,” Williams said.

Patton asked the town to offer written support as well as financial backing and in-kind support from staff. The council agreed, offering a letter of endorsement, $2,000 in funds and 16-20 hours of in-kind staff support if the grants are approved.