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Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Grants

Grants to Ohio Nonprofits and Government Agencies
to Develop, Improve, and Maintain Outdoor Trails

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR)

Deadline Date:

02/01/18 Postmarked


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Grants to Ohio government agencies, special districts, and nonprofit organizations for the development of recreational trails. Funding may be requested for trailside and trail head facilities, urban trail linkages, trail maintenance, trail restoration, access for people with disabilities, property acquisition and easements, new trail construction and development, equipment, and environment and safety education programs related to trails.

Introduction and Purpose:

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act commonly referred to as MAP-21 (PL 112-141), reauthorized the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) through Federal fiscal years 2013 and 2014, which was originally established as the National Recreational Trails Fund at significantly higher funding levels than in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (PL 111- 68), commonly referred to as SAFETEA-LU. The RTP provides for the transfer of federal gas taxes paid on fuel used in off-highway vehicles used for recreational purposes. The funds can be used to assist government agencies and trail groups in the rehabilitation, development, maintenance, and acquisition of recreational trails and related facilities. The trails may be motorized, non-motorized, or multiple use trails. RTP funds can also be used for environmental protection and safety education projects related to trails.

Types of Eligible RTP Projects:

A. Maintenance and restoration of existing trails

B. Development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages for recreational trails. Trailside and trailhead facilities include, but are not limited to the following: 1) drainage; 2) crossings; 3) stabilization; 4) parking; 5) signage; 6) control devices (signs, signals, and markings); 7) shelters, and 8) water, sanitary and access facilities.

*If your trailside or trailhead facilities benefits users outside of trail users, ODNR will not participate in the entire cost of the trailside or trailhead facility. ODNR will establish a percentage of the projects cost that will be eligible for reimbursement from the RTP program. This percentage is not negotiable. For example, if a trail restroom or trailhead parking lot will be used by park users and trails users, ODNR will establish a percentage of the facilities costs that will be eligible for reimbursement from the RTP program.

C. Purchase or lease of recreational trail construction and maintenance equipment;

D. Construction of new recreational trails, except that, in the case of new recreational trails crossing Federal lands, construction of the trails shall be;
(i) permissible under other law;
(ii) necessary and required by a statewide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan that is required by the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (16 U.S.C. 4601-4 et seq.) and that is in effect;
(iii) approved by the administering agency of the State designated under subsection (c)(1); and approved by each Federal agency having jurisdiction over the affected lands under such terms and conditions as the head of the Federal agency determines to be appropriate, except that the approval shall be contingent on compliance by the Federal agency with all applicable laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.);

E. Acquisition of easements and fee simple title to property for recreational trails or recreational trail corridors;

F. Operation of educational programs to promote safety and environmental protection as those objectives relate to the use of recreational trails, but in an amount not to exceed 5 percent of the apportionment made to the State for the fiscal year.

Allowable Costs:

A. Basic Concept

The Recreational Trails Program is a reimbursable grant program. To be eligible for matching assistance, costs other than design or appraisal costs must be incurred within the project period, stipulated by a signed project agreement.

B. Development, Rehabilitation, and Maintenance

Upon receipt of a signed project agreement provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, development, rehabilitation, and maintenance costs are eligible for reimbursement and are incurred at the start of actual physical work on the project site and continue through the period the work is being done. Costs must be incurred within the project period (contract execution date through contract expiration date) to be eligible for reimbursement. Initial master planning costs are not eligible, but applicable construction drawings may be eligible.

C. Acquisition

Acquisition costs are eligible for reimbursement if incurred during the grant contract period and are considered incurred on the date when the earliest of any of the following takes place:

1. Participant accepts deed, lease (the lease must be for the minimum of 15 years and be non-revocable) or other conveyance
2. Participant makes full payment for the property
3. Participant makes first payments in a series of payments

Costs of acceptable appraisals and valid incidental costs for the project are eligible for reimbursement only if the grant is approved.

All eligible acquisitions should be done under an approved grant contract. The acquisition must still be completed using state compliance guidelines.

Applicants to the RTP are encouraged to build linkages between trail systems, but RTP funded projects can also include loop trails, such as loop trails within parks.

Any equipment purchases must be specifically related to your trail project and to future maintenance of your trail. Equipment cannot be used for other purposes that are not related to trail use. An applicant must demonstrate, in a convincing manner, how they will ensure that all purchased equipment will be stored, maintained and applied only to trail use. If there is considerable doubt about the ability of the applicant to use purchased equipment for only trail use throughout the life of the equipment, ODNR reserves the right to deny the equipment purchase request.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 169260

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Term of Contract:

You should plan to complete your project within 15 months of entering into formal agreement with the ODNR.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

RTP funding is available to: Cities, villages, counties, townships, special districts such as park districts, joint recreation boards and conservancy districts, jointly sponsored projects between political subdivisions, state government agencies, federal government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Recreational Trails Program funds may NOT be used for any of the following:

A. Condemnation of any kind of interest in property;

B. Construction of any recreational trail on National Forest System land for any motorized use unless;
(1) the land has been designated for uses other than wilderness by an approved forest land and resource management plan or has been released to uses other than wilderness by an Act of Congress; and
(2) the construction is otherwise consistent with the management direction in the approved forest land and resource management plan;

C. Upgrading, expanding, or otherwise facilitating motorized use or access to recreational trails predominantly used by non-motorized recreational trail users and on which, as of May 1, 1991, motorized use was prohibited or had not occurred.

Examples of Projects Not Eligible for Funding:
-Law Enforcement
-Feasibility Studies
-Promotional Items
-Legal Fees
-Picnic Facilities
-Golf Cart Trails
-Playground Equipment
-Concrete Trails
-Condemned Land

Pre-Application Information:

RTP will reimburse up to 80 percent of total approved project costs. The remainder of the costs will be borne by the project sponsor. The RTP is a reimbursement program, meaning that a project sponsor must have sufficient cash, donations, or eligible in-kind services to pay for work, and then be reimbursed the grant percentage after approval of reimbursement request

The next Recreational Trail Program grant application deadline will be February 1, 2018. All 2018 grant applications must be postmarked by February 1, 2018.

Site Visits and Review: Between February 1st through August 1st (approximately), all eligible proposals are reviewed by ODNR staff. Unscheduled site visits are conducted to all proposed projects. Project sponsors are contacted if ODNR staff members have questions. Projects are then scored by the review team. When this process is complete, the Director of ODNR reviews and approves ODNR staff funding recommendations.

Project sponsors are notified in writing of the status of the application(s). Project sponsor may not begin the project until a project agreement is executed between ODNR and the project sponsor. If the proposal(s) is not selected, the applicant may re-apply for the next year’s funding cycle (if available), by sending a letter of request.

Contact Information:

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

D'Juan S.M. Hammonds, MPA

Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Office of Real Estate
Attn: D’Juan Hammonds or Marlin Holloway
2045 Morse Road, E-2
Columbus OH 43229-6693

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Ohio