Skip to main content

Recreational Trails Program

This grant program is currently accepting applications by invite-only.


Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grants are federally funded on an annual basis through the United States Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and are administered at the State level in Vermont through the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR). FPR makes RTP funds available to Vermont communities for the development and maintenance of public recreational trails, for both motorized and non-motorized recreation. Federal rules and requirements apply.

    Federal Fiscal Year 2023 (FFY 23) Program

    Application Deadlines

    • November 21, 2022 - Letters of Interest forms due (Step 1).
    • November 22, 2022 - FPR invites applicants to submit a full application (Step 2).  Only those invited may submit a full application. All those invited to submit a full application will be sent additional information about how to access and submit the full application.
    • January 23, 2023 - Full Applications Due by 5pm EDT

    Ranking Meeting and (tentative) Grant Announcement Schedule 

    • February 2023 - Grant Ranking Committee Meeting (date TBD)
    • March 2023 - Announcement of Grant Awards

    Next Steps / Post Award 

    • April 2023 - FPR sends grant notification letters to grantees, outlining the next steps for FPR to obtain federal funding approval for their projects.
    • May 2023 - FPR submits funding request for projects to VTrans and FHWA.
    • June 2023 - FPR prepares grant agreements. FHWA may request more information as they work to approvee project funding with VTrans. FHWA notifies FPR when approved.
    • Summer 2023 - Grant agreements are fully executed: first signed by both the Grantee and FPR's Commissioner, and then sent to Grantees, serving as their notification to proceed. Important to note: expenditures can only be incurred after the grant agreement is fully executed.

    Recordings from Past Information Sessions

    Application Requirements

    Who is Eligible

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

    Project Eligibility

    • Maintenance and construction of public recreational trails, trail linkages, trailhead facilities/parking areas, and trailside amenities such as signage, kiosks or trail structures along the trail, directly associated with the trail; 
    • Trail rehabilitation, major trail restoration;
    • 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 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.

    Types of Trails Eligible

    Rail trails, pedestrian/hiking trails, mountain bike trails, natural surfaced trails, community/accessible trails, off-road motorized trails (i.e., to accommodate ATV's, off-road motorcycles, snowmobiles), equestrian trails, back-country and cross-country ski trails, water-access trails for paddling, educational/wildlife/bird-watching trails; multiple uses encouraged.

    Ineligible Projects

    • Condemnation of any kind of interest in property;
    • Construction and maintenance 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;
    • General land acquisition;
    • Picnic facilities; 
    • Play equipment; 
    • Promotional items; 
    • Campground or park facilities; 
    • Sidewalks and road improvements;  

    Match Requirements: Applicants must commit to a 20% match (20% of the total estimated project cost), also referred to as the sponsor's "share". 

    Match may Consist of

    • Non-monetary donations of labor or business donations of materials, tools, equipment/supplies needed for the project; However, donations may not be counted if donated prior to a grant agreement's full execution.
    • 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)
    • 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.

    Project Preparedness

    • Plan well. 
    • Permit processes can take 3 - 6 months, or longer, depending on the nature of the work being proposed or if site visits are necessary.  
    • As soon as you have a plan in place for a project you will seek funds for, find out if what you are proposing will need any State and local permits. Start this process by contacting a local permit specialist through the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation online:  https://dec.vermont.gov/environmental-assistance/permits/specialists
    • Before applying:  Be sure to develop a project plan past its conceptual stage, so it can move quickly and smoothly into implementation after grants are approved later in the year.
    • Develop a budget to outline estimated costs of labor and materials to implement the planned project.  It is best practice to get a few price quotes from qualified businesses to support your estimates.  If you get a federal RTP grant, written price quotes are required. After you get a grant, you will need to comply with your organization's procurement policies and the RTP grant agreement purchasing provisions, or use the State's procurement and contracting procedures.
    • Get written landowner permission from landowners, for the work to be done over their property, and for future trail use.  FPR has a template to use.  If there are any trail or conservation easements or other legally binding agreements in place, please obtain them as well.  These are required documents if you are invited to submit a full RTP grant application.
    • Projects selected for funding require local public support. Start early in the planning process to garner the local support you need for your project. Host a public meeting and invite community members to learn and be involved in the plans for this project; offer ways community members can support this project; Consider partnering with local schools, businesses, local agencies and other organizations; Local support helps build capacity.  
    • Be sure the project meets local needs in the community where the trail project will occur. Create ways to offer fun future use of the trail, and future stewardship of the trail.   
    • Develop partnerships with organizations, professional trail builders, and other organizations who can support with best practices in trail construction, trail maintenance, and future stewardship. Collaboration and community partnerships are key to success. 
    • Develop a good trail design and scope of work with established trail design parameters using a set of trail guidelines.  Consider the recreational users, plan, and design your trail using acceptable standards, guidelines, and designs.  Minimize environmental impacts with a trail's layout and work plans.  
    • Secure enough funds to pay for all the expenses for your project ahead of time (this is a reimbursement program).  Find other sources of funds, donations, and volunteers to contribute toward the expenses.  
    • Have sufficient funds to pay all project expenses.  Awarded grantees are responsible for coming up with funds to pay for the entire cost of the project upfront (all eligible items listed in the budget submitted with the full grant application). 
    • Projects funded are to be primarily recreation oriented and must support strategies identified in the Action Plan of Vermont's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).  

    Federal Fiscal Year 2022 (FFY22) Program

    Awards for this grant round were announced in August 2022.

    For this funding round, the Recreational Trails Program had $511,278 to award to non-profit organizations and municipalities for community trail projects across Vermont. Grant maximums were capped at $30,000, with no minimum. 20% match was required.  

    Award Recipients Announced

    After receiving 28 full grant applications and over $1 million in requests, we are delighted to announce the 12 projects that are receiving awards:


    Contact Information

    For more information about the RTP please contact:  Sherry Smecker Winnie, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, 1 National Life Drive, Davis 2, Montpelier, VT  05620-3801  Tel:  802-760-8450 or E-Mail:  sherry.winnie@vermont.gov