Recreational Trails Program

Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Grants

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), administered at the State level to help States 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.

Availability of RTP funds:

When FHWA makes funds available to States for the Recreational Trails Program, FPR administers a competitive grant cycle for non-profit organizations and municipalities.  Applicants may apply for up to $50,000 in grant funds for a public recreational trail project. 

FPR anticipates approximately $500,000 will be made available to municipalities and non-profit organizations in the 2017 competitive grant round.  Funds will be awarded to trail projects planned to begin after July 1, 2017 and completed by June 30, 2019.

Program requirements and project eligibility are outlined below. 

The goal of this program is to provide grants to develop and maintain a wide variety of recreational trails for public use throughout Vermont.

Pre-application and other program materials are found below. If you are planning to apply for a grant in 2017 for a trail project to get underway next summer or fall, and it meets eligibility requirements, you must send in a Pre-Application form by December 1, 2016.

Full grant applications are due February 1, 2017.  

Who is Eligible?

Municipalities, non-profit organizations, and other governmental entities may apply.    

How Much can I Apply for?

You may apply for a grant for 80% of a trail project's estimated cost, up to $50,000.  

RTP is a Reimbursement Program - What this means & How you receive grant funds:

FPR will make grant disbursements to grant recipients through a reimbursement process. This means, up front, you will need to have enough funds to pay for all the costs necessary to do the work you're proposing in your grant application. You'll need to first pay for the labor and materials (after a grant agreement is fully executed for your project) and send supporting documentation to FPR that this has been done, before FPR can release grant funds. You may request a reimbursement once you have paid for the project expenses (i.e., labor, materials, supplies, etc.)  Only allowable costs under the program are reimbursable.  A cost is allowable if it is reasonable, necessary to complete the work in the approved scope of work in your grant agreement, and if eligible under the federal RTP, documented adequately, and incurred during the period of performance set forth in the grant agreement.  Grant recipients are required to contribute to the project. This is referenced as match, or the sponsor's share.

Below is a packet of Reimbursement Request Forms and a Performance Report Form::   

Reimbursement Request Forms     Performance Report Form

In accordance with the payment provisions found in your grant agreement, you will need to submit a reimbursement request to indicate the project costs incurred and the match amount.  Donated labor and donated materials may be used as match and are to be accounted for when used as match.  The total of all expenditures (paid & donated) will result in the total "project cost".  FPR will apply the match rate to the reimbursement request and pay out the grant percentage rate in accordance with the terms in the grant agreement.

What is the Required Match?

Applicants must come up with 20% of the project cost as the sponsor's match (also referred to as the sponsor's "share").

Applicants must submit a budget form for their project with their grant application, listing the anticipated project costs (expenses).  Once the applicant comes up with an estimate for the cost of the project, the applicant should multiply the total project cost by .20 (20%), which will be the amount of the sponsor's match (share).  You will need to list where the match will come from, on the match summary section of the budget form.  

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.

Allocation Rules Applied to the State's Apportionment of RTP funds:

States receive an annual apportionment of funds from FHWA. To use the full apportionment, States are required to allocate funds so 30% of the apportionment is allocated for public motorized trail use, 30% is allocated for public non-motorized trail use, and 40% of the funding is allocated for diverse recreational trail uses (either more than one non-motorized usze, more than one motorized use, or a combination of non-motorized and motorized uses).

States may use 7% of their annual apportionment for State Administrative Costs.

What Kind of Projects are Eligible?

Maintenance, restoration, development, or rehabilitation & reconstruction of existing trails, or construction of new trials, trail linkages, trailside amenities, and trailhead facilities for public recreational use; Assessment of existing trail conditions for accessibility and maintenance;  Educational projects (as described below); 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 Acquistion Policies Act of 1970, P.L. 91-646.

Educational Projects:

A State may use up to 5% of their federal apportionment for educational programs.

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. 

Scheduled 2017 Grant Cycle Timeline

December 1, 2016  Pre-applications are due.

February 1, 2017    Grant applications are due. You must have submitted a Pre-application in December in order to submit a full application.

March  Grant review committe meets, scores, and recommends projects to be funded.  Funding recommendations are presented to FPR's Commissioner.

April    FPR Commissioner reviews recommendations/makes decision and announces projects to be funded.

May-June   FPR will request funding authorization from FHWA for the projects to be funded & FPR will prepare grant agreements for projects submitted to FHWA to begin the State's review and final federal and state approval so grant agreements can be fully executed by both the Subrecipent and FPR.

By July 1    Grant agreements are fully executed indicating the project's funding approval. Projects can begin.

RTP Pre-Application: DUE DECEMBER 1

FPR requests that if your community or organization intends to submit a grant application this grant round, you fill out the 2017 Pre-Application form below and submit it no later than December 1, 2016 to:  

2017 Pre-Application 

Full Grant Application:  DUE FEBRUARY 1, 2017

Complete the grant application and budget form below and send (1) electronic copy with required attachments (indicated in the grant application) by February 1, 2017 to:

You must have submitted a pre-application in December 2016 in order to submit the full 2017 RTP grant application.

 2017 RTP Grant Application     2017 Budget Form     2017 Application Supplement - Guidebook 

Contact Information:

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

Tel:  802-760-8450