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Regional Trail Grant Program

Grants to Minnesota Local Governments
for the Development of Recreational Trails

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Deadline Date:

03/30/18 Receipt


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Grants starting at $5,000 to Minnesota local governments to develop long-distance recreational trails in areas of the state outside the seven-county metropolitan region. Eligible projects include acquisition and development of trail facilities that are considered of regional or statewide significance and act as counterparts or compliments of the state trail system.

The Regional Trail Program depends on local communities and their local government representatives to provide inspiration, planning and commitment, as well as the local matching financial requirement, to make these trail projects a reality. Local governments complete the acquisition and/or projects and are reimbursed for a portion of the acquisition and/or project actually completed.

Priority for trail project funding will be given to projects that develop trails of significant length. Significant considerations also include expected amount and type of use, and quality and attractiveness of natural and cultural resources. Acquisition projects require a perpetual easement for recreational purposes. Development projects require a 20 year maintenance commitment by the project sponsor.

Parks of regional significance must meet the first two criteria described below. The other criteria listed below help further define parks of regional significance.

- Natural Resource Based Settings and Range of Activities Offered: The park should provide a natural setting and offer outdoor recreation facilities and activities that are primarily natural resource based. Examples include camping, picnicking, hiking, swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, and nature study. A related measure is the range of these activities accommodated within the park (e.g., a park with a beach, campground and boat launch facilities is more likely to attract a regional clientele than a park with only one of these facilities).

- Use: Evidence that the park serves at least a regional clientele (multiple communities). Other related factors may include evidence that the facility currently or potentially may draw tourists and generate economic impact from outside the local area.

- Size: The park should be significant in size. In southern Minnesota, a park of 100 acres is significant. In northern Minnesota, the acreage is generally larger. There are exceptions to this criteria based on use characteristics, special features, and other variables.

- Special Features: Unique or unusual landscape features, historically significant sites, or parks containing characteristics of regional or statewide significance.

- Scarcity of Recreational Resources: The park provides public natural resource based recreational opportunities that are not otherwise available within a reasonable distance. Examples include water-based activities, such as swimming, fishing and boating; interpretive nature trails; public campgrounds; etc

Trails of regional significance must meet the first two criteria described below. They should also address the other criteria, not to be understood in isolation, but in their aggregate.

- Regionally desirable setting: The trail is located in a regionally desirable setting. Criteria include attractive, unusual, and/or representative landscapes, important destinations, or high quality natural areas.

- High quality opportunity and use: The trail serves as a destination, providing high quality recreational opportunities, attracts a regional clientele (multiple communities), potentially may draw tourists, and generates an economic impact from outside the local area. The trail should be developed and maintained to include easy access, secure parking, access to drinking water and other necessary services, and is wide enough or designed in such a way to avoid user conflict and provide a safe experience.

- Adequate length: The trail provides at least an hour of outdoor recreation opportunity, or connects to other facilities that can provide at least an hour of recreation in total.

- Connections: The trail currently or potentially will link to an existing trail of regional or statewide significance. This includes providing connections between significant trails, or connecting communities or community facilities to these trails.

- Scarcity of Trail Resources: The trail provides a high quality recreational opportunity not otherwise available within a reasonable distance.

Eligible projects may include, but are not necessarily limited to the following examples:

- Land acquisition from willing sellers, where value is established by a licensed and certified appraiser, whose conclusions of value are certified by the State, and only if perpetual easement for recreation trail purposes is conveyed to the state. See the land acquisition requirements section of this manual for more information.
- Construction of trails on public or private lands where a twenty-year easement for the purpose of the project can be obtained.
- Development of trail linkages near homes and workplaces.
- Development of permanent trailside improvements and trailhead facilities (e.g., drainage, crossings, stabilization, parking, signage, controls, open-sided shelters, water, and sanitary facilities).
- Provision of features that facilitate access and use of trails by persons with disabilities.
- Restoration of existing trail facilities, such as resurfacing, repair, or rehabilitation of trails or trailhead facilities.
- Contracted maintenance of existing recreational trails.
- Construction or restoration of trail bridges.

Eligible Reimbursement Costs:
- Advertising costs solely for (1) Recruitment of personnel; (2) Solicitation of bids; and (3) Disposal of scrap materials.
- Capital and labor expenditures for facilities, equipment and other capital assets
- Materials and/or supplies.
- Freight transportation expenses.
- Professional services and Project administration costs provided that they do not exceed 20 percent of the total cost of the project.
- Land acquisitions (including permanent easements) whose value a licensed appraiser establishes and whose conclusions of value are certified by the state. See land acquisition requirements section of this manual.
- Any cost not defined as an eligible cost or not included in the approved Application shall not be paid from state funds committed to the project, unless the Department has provided written authorization.

Only contract services, materials, and supplies are reimbursable.

Selection Priorities:
- Projects that provide connectivity, such as trails connecting where people live (e.g. residential areas within cities, entire communities) and significant public resources (e.g. historical areas, open space, parks and/or other trails).
- Projects that can be expected to have relatively high usage.
- Projects that provide for a unique and interesting connection to the outdoors, such as trails with scenic views, unique natural and cultural features, and wildlife/nature viewing.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180214

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

The minimum grant request is $5,000, and the maximum grant award is $250,000.

Term of Contract:

Funded projects must begin promptly after an agreement has been signed. All work funded with FY 2019 appropriations must be completed no later than June 30, 2020, and immediately available for use to the general public for no less than 20 years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants include counties, cities, and townships.

All local units of government (typically cities, counties, and townships) are eligible to apply. Also user groups and/or trail organizations may apply, but only in coordination with a local unit of government per legislation. Funding is only available to a local unit of government.

Funds cannot be used for the development of any trails that are designated as part of the state trail system.

Neither this funding source, nor the match can be used for in-house labor services and/or to meet existing payroll (see Section III, D. Non-eligible Reimbursement Costs for additional ineligible costs).

Non-eligible projects include but are not limited to:
- Projects within state park boundaries, state recreational areas, on state trails, and elements of the Metropolitan Open Space System.
- Construction of trails within federally designated wilderness areas (with some exceptions).
- Construction of ordinary sidewalks.
- Planning projects that are preliminary to construction of any trail projects.
- Improvements on highways or other roadways, including but not limited to, lighting, striping, on-street routing, and shoulder work.
- All paved multi-use bicycle/pedestrian trails less than 10 feet in width are not eligible. Short distance exceptions are allowed on a case by case basis.

Non-eligible reimbursement costs include but are not limited to:
- Any expenditure that occurs before the effective date of this agreement
- Fund raising
- Taxes, except sales tax on goods and services
- Insurance, except title insurance
- Attorney fees
- Loans, grants, or subsidies to persons or entities for development
- Bad debts, late payment fees, finance charges or contingency funds
- Interest, investment management fees
- Lobbyists
- Political contributions
- Wages and expenses of Sub grantee’s employees
- Fringe benefit costs of Sub grantee’s employees
- Land appraisals
- Entertainment, gifts and prizes, food and refreshments
- Purchase of phones, computers, tablets or audiovisual equipment
- Memberships (including subscriptions and dues), publications, periodicals and other subscription fees
- Agency advertising and marketing expenses
- Office Rental Fees, and Overhead and Indirect Expenses (including, but not limited to
office or storage space rental, utility expenses, copier rental, phone bills, office materials and supplies)

Pre-Application Information:

All applications must be received electronically by March 30, 2018.

This is a competitive program. Staff members are available to discuss the project or review application materials prior to submittal. The applicant is encouraged to submit any draft application or materials by March 9, 2018 if he or she would like staff to provide comments.

Grant Application Timeline:
- Early January 2018: Grant application materials available on the DNR website
- March 9, 2018: Draft applications due if grant applicant seeks comments by Grant Coordinator (not required)
- March 30, 2018: Grant application due date; Applications will not be accepted after this date.
- March 31, 2018 - July 2018: Application review and selection process.
- July 2018: Grant applicants are notified of the results. All grant applicants will be sent a letter if they are awarded a grant or not. Copy of the notification letter will also be sent to the applicant partner, if applicable. Awarded grantees then will follow the timeline below.

Awarded Grant Timeline:
- July 2018: Award letter received. Congratulations. Required documentation checklist also included with notification letter.
- July – June 30, 2020: Grantee must begin work on the required documentation checklist items. All items must be completed in order to receive a grant contract.
- June 30, 2020: The project must be completed by 6/30/2020. Grant extensions past 6/30/2020 are not an available because the funds expire 6/30/2020 per the legislation. The Grantee must plan accordingly to complete the project no later than 6/30/2020.

Funds will first be available no earlier than July 1, 2018 to start the contracting process.

Grants are reimbursement based up to 75 percent of eligible project costs, and recipients must provide a non-state cash match of at least 25 percent. Other state funds or grants, such as Parks and Trails Legacy Grants, or Metropolitan Council Grants cannot match these grants. Project costs must be incurred and paid before reimbursement can be made. Project costs become eligible for reimbursement once a contract agreement is established between the DNR and the grantee.

This program can provide a portion of the local match for Transportation Enhancement Projects that are awarded by MnDOT with Federal Highway Administration funding. However; this program provides reimbursement up to 75 percent, while Enhancements provide up to 80 percent. The grantee must ensure that there is never more than 100 percent reimbursed.

This program can reimburse engineering and design costs associated with these projects, which cannot be reimbursed under the Enhancement program. Engineering and design costs can only be reimbursed up to 75 percent and can only account for up to 20 percent of the total cost of the project. (i.e. for a $100,000 project, the maximum a grantee may request reimbursement for engineering and design costs would be fifty percent of $20,000).

Typically, only projects that are programmed for funding in the current or upcoming federal fiscal year are eligible to receive funding through the current years’ solicitation.

Contact Information:

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

Applications should be emailed to:

Dan Golner, Recreation Program Coordinator

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Division of Parks and Trails
500 Lafayette Road, Box 39
Saint Paul, MN 55155

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Minnesota