Vermont Recreational Trails Program
What is the Recreational Trails Program?
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a federally funded program of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), providing grants administered at the State level to help develop and maintain recreational trails, trail-related facilities and trailheads. Both motorized and non-motorized trail projects may qualify for RTP funds.
Benefits of RTP
RTP provides funds for a wide range of outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, biking, walking, running, water-based trail use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicular riding, or using other off-road motorized recreational vehicles, in-line skating, and equestrian use.
Who Administers RTP in Vermont?
The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) administers RTP in Vermont.
Why would I apply for an RTP grant?
FPR anticipates approximately $500,000 from the State’s RTP apportionment will be made available to municipalities and non-profit organizations through competitive trail grants, for projects to be completed between July 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016.
Check the kinds of projects eligible for funding under the RTP (below). Then, if your project meets the eligibility requirements, and you have a well-planned trail project that meets the goals and objectives of the State's Trails & Greenways Plan, and it has local community support, and it can be fully permitted in time so the project work can begin next July 1, 2015*, you would be eligible to apply for a grant.
* July 1, 2015 is the estimated date of project approval and when a grant agreement is estimated to be authorized and executed by FPR from the round of RTP grants due February 2, 2015.
When's the next grant round?
The next grant cycle begins in October 2014. New grant applications will be posted on this website and will be due February 2, 2015.
Who is Eligible?
Municipalities and non-profit organizations may apply for grants.
How much can I apply for?
You may apply for up to 80% of a recreation trail project's total cost, up to $20,000.
However, RTP grants are reimbursement grants which means you will need to come up with funds to be able to pay for your project first, before you receive any grant funds..
And remember, a project may not begin until after next July 1.
* See note in allocation rules below.
What is the required match?
Project sponsors must provide a match of at least 20% of the total project costs.
Sponsors will need to submit a budget for their project in the grant application, itemizing anticipated project expenditures. The sponsor must come up with at least 20% of the total project cost as the sponsor's match and show where their match will come from.
Match may consist of:
State Funds: (other state grants/funds)
Local Cash or In-Kind Contributions: Sponsor's direct monetary contribution; (i.e. cash from fund-raising efforts, organizational or municipal funds, local tax revenues, set-aside project funds, force-fund accounts of town/organizational labor forces, local business, private or public contributions etc.);
Private Contributions and Other non-governmental Grants (i.e. foundation grants, local non-profit organizational grants, awards)
Non-Monetary Contributions: Value of volunteer labor or donations (i.e. donations of labor; in-kind labor contributions; or business donations of materials, tools, equipment/supplies needed for the project;) However, donations of materials, supplies, or volunteers may not be counted if donated prior to project approval.
Other Federal Funds: (i.e. other federal grants, funds, federal aid) might be able to be used as match, but you will need to check with the RTP Administrator and the other federal funding source(s) ahead of time.
States may use 7% of their apportionment for State Administrative Costs.
Then, States must use 40% of the RTP for recreational trail projects that facilitate diverse recreational trail use (either more than one non-motorized use, more than one motorized use, or both motorized and non-motorized use); and, 30% must be used to facilitate motorized use, and another 30% for non-motorized use.
Allocation Rule Note:
While FPR receives numerous requests to fund trail projects for non-motorized and diverse recreational trail uses, FPR has historically lifted the maximum grant award in order to meet the motorized allocation requirement.
All projects must meet the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Recreational Trails Program Rules. For FHWA Recreational Trails Program Rules, go to: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/guidance/
For Recreational Trails Program Guidance, go to:http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/guidance/rtp9908_toc.cfm
What is eligible?
- Maintenance and restoration of existing trails;
- Development and rehabilitation of trails, trailside and trailhead facilities, and trail linkages;
- Purchase and rental fees for trail construction and trail maintenance equipment or tools necessary to carry out eligible projects;
- Construction of new trails
- Acquisition of easements or property for trails or recreational trail corridors;
- Assessment of existing trail conditions for accessibility and maintenance;
- Educational Programs for development or dissemination of trail-user educational materials or publications for trail users; statewide trail information, operation of educational programs to promote trail safety and environmental protection related to trails (non-law enforcement trail safety), trail use monitoring; trail patrol programs; search and rescue efforts; public education efforts to promote appropriate trail use;
Up to 5% of a State's federal apportionment may be used for educational projects, and, States may use less than this amount.
Sponsors who apply to RTP for educational project funds should focus on public education efforts aimed at providing the public with information about trail safety, appropriate trail use, manage uses, allowable use(s), accessibility, and environmental protection.
If your project gets recommended for the grant you request in February, here's 3 items you must know:
1. It may take 5-6 months after the grant deadline to get funding approval for your project, so the project you apply for in February must be a well-planned out project, but one you may not begin until after funding approval, which the estimated date is July 1, 2015.
2. Before any project begins, FPR and the project Sponsor must first fully execute a grant agreement. The grant agreement is the instrument providing grant authorization and project approval from FPR which allows the Sponsor to be reimbursed for a project’s eligible expenditures. The agreement sets the parameters as to what work will be done, how the work will be done, and how Sponsors will be paid.
3. A project may not be reimbursed before project approval. Once a project is approved, and authorized with the grant agreement, the Sponsor must then first complete project work, and pay for the project’s expenditures, then request grant funds from FPR by submitting a reimbursement request to FPR with supporting documentation. This cannot happen until steps 1 & 2 above take place.
For more information about RTP please contact FPR's Grant Programs Manager:
Sherry Smecker Winnie
Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620-3801