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Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

Grants to Vermont Nonprofits and Agencies to
Develop and Maintain Public Trails and Trail Systems

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Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) - Agency of Natural Resources

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Grants of up to $50,000 to Vermont nonprofit organizations, municipalities, and other government agencies for the development, protection, and maintenance of public recreational trails and trail systems. Pre-applications are due December 1. Consideration will be given to both motorized and non-motorized trails.

RTP supports a wide range of recreational trail activities such as hiking, mountain biking, walking, running, paddling (water-based trail use), cross-country and back-country skiing, nature-based interpretive trail use, equestrian use, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicular riding or other off-road motorized recreational uses.

Local communities and nonprofit organizations using RTP funds have opportunity to help improve livability in Vermont. And, by conserving and developing trails in your community you can also contribute to environmental and human health while providing great economic benefits for the people of Vermont.

Types of Projects:
-Construction of new recreational trails or trail linkages;
-Construction of new trailhead areas/parking facilities;
-Construction of trailside facilities directly associated with the recreational trail;
-Maintenance, renovation, or restoration of recreational trails;
-Improvements to signage, or trail structures along the trail;
-Assessment of existing trail conditions for accessibility and trail improvements to improve accessibility;
-Professional project management for project oversight;
-Equipment purchases;
-Acquisition of trail easements or fee simple title to property with trails or recreational trail corridors in conformance with the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, P.L. 91-646.
-States have the flexibility to choose to use up to 5% of the annual apportionment for educational projects: Educational projects or educational components are to be trail related with information about: trail safety, appropriate trail use, managed and allowable use(s), accessibility, and environmental protection.

Projects funded are to be primarily recreation oriented and must support goals and objectives in Vermont's Trails & Greenways Plan of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) (attached below).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 168249

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants up to $50,000 are awarded.

RTP grants typically range from $5,000 to $50,000.

Term of Contract:

Awards will be given for trail projects planned to begin July 1, 2018. Projects should be planned to be completed within 1-2 years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and other governmental entities may apply.

Buy America requirements apply to all projects. If proposing to purchase a piece of equipment or if you have a structure in your proposed trail project application that will be made with steel or iron, this activity will fall under the United States Department of Transportation FHWA's Buy America provisions. See:

Ineligible Projects (Not permissible):
-Condemnation of any kind of interest in property;
-Construction of recreational trails on land where the proposed trail use is not permitted and landowner permission or support is not granted;
-Feasibility studies (or stand-alone planning);
-Law enforcement;
-Picnic facilities;
-Play equipment;
-Promotional items;
-Campground or park facilities.

Pre-Application Information:

Grants provide eligible applicants with a reimbursement of 80% of a project's cost. A 20% sponsor match is required, 20% of the total estimated project cost.

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.

Applicants for the next round of grants must submit a Pre-Application by December 1, 2017 to be able to submit a full grant application.

Full grant applications are due February 1, 2018. A selection process will take place by April. FPR will then announce selected trail projects and get project grants approved by or soon after July 1, 2018. Project sponsors may begin the trail project in their grant application only after a grant agreement is fully approved and executed by both FPR and the project sponsor.

Applicants should plan their projects accordingly, including securing all needed permits before beginning the project.

The 2018 RTP Full Application and Application Instruction/Guidebook will be posted online mid-October.

Project Preparedness:
-Obtain public and/or private landowner permission for trail work proposed in the grant application;
-Obtain landowner permission to bring in equipment and crews into the project area;
-Obtain landowner permission for public use of the trail(s) once the project is completed;
-As soon as you can before submitting a full application, find out and secure your project's needed permits by contacting a project review specialist through the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.
-Permit processes can take 3 - 6 months, or longer, depending on the nature of the work you will be doing;
-Plan to obtain all your permits before July 1, 2018. All needed permits must be secured before doing any work in the grant agreement.
-Be sure you have sufficient funds to pay all the project's expenses. Applicants who become grantees are responsible for coming up with funds to pay for the entire cost of the project upfront (all those line items listed in the budget that gets submitted with the full application).

Planning, permitting, engineering or professional design costs are the only allowable costs that can be incurred prior to grant approval. These costs can be used toward match if incurred within 18 months prior to grant approval.

RTP is a reimbursement program, which means project sponsors do not receive a cash grant at the time of grant approval. Instead, sponsors must first pay the bills for incurred expenses (after receiving a fully executed grant agreement by FPR) and then be reimbursed 80% of expenses incurred for the project according to the terms of the project grant agreement. Reimbursement is not permitted for work that takes place prior to the project's grant approval.

2018 Competitive RTP Grant Cycle:
-Dec. 1, 2017: Due date for Pre-applications
-Feb. 1, 2018: Due date for full grant applications; Only those who submit a pre-application by December 1, 2017 may submit a full application
-March 2018: RTP Review Committee meets, scores & recommends projects to be funded. Recommendations are forwarded to FPR's Commissioner for review and final decision making.
-April 2018: FPR Commissioner reviews recommendations & announces decision of what projects will be awarded grants
-May 2018: FPR requests funding approval from FHWA for those projects awarded grants & begins preparing grant agreements for grantees for their final execution when approved June 2018
-July 1, 2018: Estimated date of approval; Grant agreements fully executed by both Grantee &FPR - Projects can begin

Contact Information:

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

Sherry Smecker Winnie, Grant Program Manager

Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620-3801

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Vermont