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Georgia Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

Grants to Georgia Nonprofits and Agencies to Develop
Motorized and Non-Motorized Recreational Trails

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Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Division of Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites

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Grants to Georgia nonprofit organizations and government agencies to develop and improve recreational trails for both non-motorized and motorized trails. Pre-applications are due January 2. Eligible trails encompass the following uses: hiking, biking, running and wheelchair access, water trail use, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, equestrian use, off-road motorcycling, snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving or using other off-road motorized vehicles.

The intent for RTP grant funding is to enhance trail opportunities by achieving results that would not otherwise be possible. RTP grants are for projects that are primarily recreational in nature, rather than serving a more utilitarian transportation function. RTP grants typically fund on-the-ground projects, while limited funds are available for educational components.

A RTP project must be a distinct project with a distinct purpose. All project elements, including the project match, must be tied to the distinct purpose.

RTP Legislation (23 U.S.C. 206) requires that States use:
-30 percent of funds in a fiscal year for uses relating to motorized recreation;
-30 percent for uses relating to non-motorized recreation;
-40 percent for diverse recreational trail use.

The motorized, non-motorized and diverse percentages are minimum requirements that must be met, and may be exceeded. A project for diverse motorized use (such as snowmobile and off- road motorcycle use) may satisfy the 40 percent diverse use requirement and the 30 percent motorized use requirement simultaneously. A project for diverse non-motorized use (such as pedestrian and bicycle use) may satisfy the 40 percent diverse use requirement and the 30 percent non-motorized use requirement simultaneously.

To provide more flexibility in RTP project selection, FHWA established five categories to account for the 30-30-40 requirements:

1. Non-motorized project for a single use: A project primarily intended to benefit only one mode of non-motorized recreational trail use, such as pedestrian only, or equestrian only. Projects serving various pedestrian uses (such as walking, hiking, wheelchair use, running, bird-watching, backpacking, etc.) constitute a single use for the purposes of this category.

2. Non-motorized diverse use project: A project primarily intended to benefit more than one mode of non-motorized recreational trail use such as: walking, bicycling, and skating; both pedestrian and equestrian use; and pedestrian use in summer and off road bicycling use in winter.

3. Diverse use projects: A project intended to benefit both non-motorized recreational trail use and motorized recreational trail use. This category includes projects where motorized use is permitted, but is not the predominant beneficiary. This category includes projects where motorized and non-motorized uses are separated by season, such as equestrian use in summer and ATV use in winter.

4. Motorized single use project: A project primarily intended to benefit only one mode of motorized recreational use, such as ATV trail. A project may be classified in this category if the project also benefits some non-motorized uses (it is not necessary to exclude non-motorized uses), but the primary intent must be for the benefit of motorized use.

5. Motorized diverse use project: A project primarily intended to benefit more than one mode of motorized recreational use, such as: motorcycle and ATV use; or ATV use in summer and snowmobile use in winter. A project may be classified in this category if the project also benefits some non-motorized uses (it is not necessary to exclude non-motorized uses), but the primary intent must be for the benefit of motorized use.

In general, RTP funds may be used for the following types of projects:
-New trail construction
-Trail restoration
-Trail head facilities
-Lease of heavy equipment
-Purchase of hand tools to construct / renovate trails
-Land acquisition for trail purposes
-Water trail facilities
-Safety and educational programs

There are expense allowances and restrictions within these categories, as detailed in the project sub-sections of the Program Manual (attached below). It is important that applicants understand the eligibility policies detailed in Section 2 and the project selection criteria detailed in Section 4, prior to applying.

Eligible Project Elements:

-Construction of new recreational trails: This category includes construction of entirely new trails, expansion of trails and new linkages between existing trails. This category may include the construction of new trail bridges, or providing appropriate way-finding signing along a trail. For projects on federal land, the most important requirement is that the federal agency land manager approves of the project in accordance with the applicable Federal laws and regulations.

-Restoration of existing trails: This may be interpreted broadly to include any kind of non-deferred trail maintenance, restoration, rehabilitation, or relocation. This category may include maintenance and restoration of trail bridges, or providing appropriate way-finding signage along a trail.

-Lease of trail construction and maintenance equipment: The intent is for on-the-ground equipment which is used for completing trail work. This equipment cannot be used for other activities such as patrol or law enforcement. Vehicles used for transportation, such as trucks, ATVs, side-by-sides and snowmobiles are not eligible.

-Development and rehabilitation of trailhead facilities and trail linkages for recreation trails: This can include parking/staging areas for trails including items like restrooms and trail information kiosks (interpretive signage not allowed).

-Acquisition of easements and property for recreational trails or corridors: RTP legislation prohibits condemnation of any kind of interest in property. Therefore, acquisition of any kind of interest in property must be from a willing landowner or seller.

-Property Appraisals and Appraisal Reviews for Land Acquisitions and Donations: The Uniform Appraisal Standards of Federal Land Acquisitions (UASFLA), commonly referred to as “Yellow Book,” must be used to prepare appraisals for acquisitions, or donations if used for a federal match. Costs for both are eligible project costs. DNR does not provide this service.

-Educational programs to promote safety and environmental protection: Projects must have a direct relationship with a recreational trail and can include: safety education programs, production of trail- related educational materials, whether on information displays, in print, video, audio, interactive computer displays, etc. Educational projects are counted within the overall 40-30-30 requirement. Education projects are limited to 5% of the total RTP allocation for the state.

Water Trails: The definition of “recreational trail” in the RTP legislation includes “aquatic or water activities.” Examples of water trail projects include staging areas or trailhead facilities near access points. Water trails are counted within the overall 30-30-40 requirement.

Conditional Project Elements:

-Condemned Land: The RTP legislation prohibits using RTP funds for condemnation of any kind of interest in property. An RTP project may be located on land condemned with funds from other sources. However, it is not permissible to use the value of condemned land toward the match requirement.

-Environmental Assessment: Projects intended solely for covering environmental evaluation and documentation costs are not permissible. However, reasonable environmental evaluation and documentation costs, including costs associated with environmental permits and approvals, may be included as part of an approved project’s construction engineering costs.

-Construction engineering costs, costs incurred developing the construction documents, bid package, environmental or cultural evaluation, or permits may not exceed 15% of the total project cost.
Staff salary costs of existing staff are not eligible for reimbursement. New temporary staff, hired solely to accomplish an RTP project that could not be accomplished otherwise, may be eligible for reimbursement. Staff salaries( force account) are eligible for match.

-Sidewalks: RTP funds will not be used to provide paths or sidewalks along or adjacent to public roads or streets. If a sidewalk is needed to complete a missing link between other recreational trails, a case may be made to demonstrate the recreational need and why transportation funds are not being used.

-Wilderness areas are subject to the restriction of the Wilderness Act of 1964 as amended. Constructing new trails for motorized use onNational Forest or Bureau of Land Management lands is not allowed unless the project is consistent with resource management plans.

-Within a Road Right-of-Way: If your project is within a road right-of-way, you will need to follow these additional regulations: Davis-Bacon Act - federal prevailing wage law that kicks in at $2,000; Copeland Act – no kickbacks from employees to employer for “privilege” of employment; Convict (Inmate) labor is not allowed unless performed by persons who are on parole, supervised release, or probation (23 U.S.C. 114(b)).

-Railroads: RTP projects may be located within or along railroad rights-of-way if trail users will not traverse on or between railroad tracks and if adequate safety measures are implemented in coordination with the railroad owner, operator.

-Pre-Agreement Work: Some pre-agreement project planning and environmental review costs may be eligible for match. The work must have taken place within 18 months of the Notice to Proceed and be pre-approved by DNR. Time spent preparing the project application is not eligible.

Buy America:

Buy America requirements apply to steel and iron permanently incorporated in a project funded by RTP when the total value of the materials or equipment exceeds $2,500. The provision requires these materials be melted and manufactured domestically and that documentation is obtained to verify Buy America compliance.

These provisions apply to all materials and equipment permanently incorporated into the project, regardless of whether the items are acquired and paid for with matching funds or donated to the Project Sponsor as part of the RTP match. Examples of materials that must comply with Buy America include steel bridge girders, steel railings, steel structures, steel trailers, and steel structural elements of trailhead facilities. Steel tools that do not comply with Buy America must to be inventoried and the total should not exceed $2,500.

Air Quality:

Many RTP projects and project-related activities are exempt from air quality conformity requirements of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. However, RTP projects and project-related activities which involve new construction within air quality non-attainment or maintenance areas may be subject to the air quality conformity rule (40 CFR parts 51 and 93).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 148615

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Grant requests have no minimum and are limited to a maximum of $200,000 for non-motorized, single use and diverse use trail projects. There is no maximum grant amount in place for motorized trail projects.

Term of Contract:

The project term is approximately 2 years, as specified in a project agreement.

Grantees must be shovel ready by December 31, 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible Projects Sponsors for RTP include:
-Municipal Agencies
-State Agencies
-Federal Government Agencies
-Other Government Entities
-Nonprofit organizations

Nonprofit applicants must meets the following criteria:
-IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt status
-Only eligible for educational program grants that promote recreational trail safety and environmental protection.

Adequate control must be established by an applicant over any land (public or private) to be improved and/or developed with RTP grant funds. Control is generally understood to mean ownership, lease, easement or use agreement of not less than 25 years.

Ineligible Project Elements:

Ineligible project elements are not eligible as project match.

-Routine trail maintenance includes work that should be conducted on a frequent basis to keep a trail in its originally constructed serviceable standard (e.g. mowing, tree and brush pruning, leaf and debris removal.) Routine maintenance work is usually limited to minor repair or improvements that do not significantly change the trail location, width, surface, or trail structure.

-Feasibility Studies: Trail feasibility studies are not a use permitted in the RTP legislation. The permissible uses relate to actual on-the-ground trail projects.

-Planning: Trail planning is not a permissible use of RTP funds.

-Lighting: Trail lighting shall not be considered a permissible use of RTP funds.

-Landscaping: Landscaping is not in the spirit of RTP and shall not be considered an eligible expense. Mitigation planting as part of a permit condition is not considered landscaping.

-Law Enforcement: Law enforcement related expenses are not permitted in the RTP legislation.

-Roads: Funds may not be used to improve roads for passenger vehicle use.

-Overhead: The regular operating expenses such as rent, building upkeep, utilities, insurance and fixed costs associated with a business, agency or group.

-Indirect Costs: Only direct costs that can be identified specifically with a final cost objective directly related to the trail project are eligible.

-Interpretive Signage: Signs that are interpretive in function, rather than way-finding, are not eligible project elements.

-Budget Contingencies: Contingencies included as budget line items are not permitted.

-Legal Fees: Legal fees are not eligible for inclusion in any project budget.

-Food: Food or beverage purchases are not eligible expenses under RTP.

Pre-Application Information:

RTP grant funds can pay up to 80% of a project’s total cost. Project Sponsors must provide at least 20% of the total project cost as match.

Buy America Waiver requests may be made for items that do not meet the Buy America requirements. Project sponsors must work with DNR’s RTP Grant Coordinator who will further coordinate the request with FHWA. For vehicle and equipment purchase waivers, FHWA processes requests on a quarterly schedule, on the condition that the product has final domestic assembly. The processing of waiver requests can cause significant delay for a project.

RTP functions as a reimbursement grant program.

Pre-applications must be received, not postmarked by the end of the business day (4:30 PM) on Tuesday, January 2, 2018.

Second-level application packages must be received, not postmarked, by end of business day (4:30 PM) on Friday, May 26, 2018.

Application Review Process and Timeline:

-October 1, 2017: Georgia DNR announces biennial funding cycle via public announcement and website posting of information

-January 2, 2018: Deadline for Pre-application. Pre-applications are reviewed for eligibility, scored and ranked by the GA DNR RTP staff. Georgia RTP Advisory committee also reviews application rankings, and the Georgia DNR Board is informed of the applicant rankings. Copies of the selected pre-applicants are forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration.

-April 2018: All pre-applicants are notified, and selected pre-applicants are invited to submit second-level application packages. The second-level application process certifies completion of all environmental assessments and required environmental permits, land ownership or easements, and verifies the applicant’s financial ability to complete the project as proposed.

-May 26, 2018: Deadline for second-level application packages

-September 28, 2018: Deadline for second-level applications. Second-level applicants who successfully complete all requirements and submit all necessary documents by the deadline will be recommended for grant approval to FHWA. Second-level applicants who are unable to complete all requirements by the September deadline may be allowed an extension of time until, December 31, 2018 with approval by the GA DNR RTP staff.

-Grant funds will be available to successful applicants upon approval by FHWA, a fiscal meeting with the GA DNR RTP staff, and execution of a Project Agreement between GA DNR and the applicant.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Jodie Gardner, Program Manager
(404) 463-1779

Audrey Camp, Outreach Coordinator
(404) 463-1030

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Recreational Trails Grant Program
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE Suite
1370 East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Georgia