Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Recreational Trails Grant Program

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Program Background

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is an assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In New York, RTP is a program of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) administered by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP).

The RTP was reauthorized on December 4, 2015, when the President signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. No. 114-94). The FAST Act authorizes funding for the Recreational Trails Program for fiscal years 2016 through 2020. More information on the Federal legislation and program guidance can be found at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails

The Recreational Trails Program provides funds to states to develop and maintain recreational trails for both motorized and non-motorized recreational trail use. Funding is available for the maintenance and restoration of existing recreational trails, development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages for recreational trails, purchase and lease of recreational trail construction and maintenance equipment, construction of new recreational trails, acquisition of easements and fee simple title to property for recreational trails or recreational trail corridors, and assessment of trail conditions for accessibility and maintenance. Grants can fund up to 80% of the total project cost, or, up to 95% if the applicant is a federal agency. The minimum grant award for restoration, development and property acquisition projects is $25,000. The minimum equipment purchase award is $5,000. All grant awards are capped at $200,000. Should project costs increase post award, the grant award will not be adjusted upward.

Program Mandates

The RTP legislation requires that States use 40% of their funds apportioned in a fiscal year for diverse recreational trail use, 30% for motorized recreation, and 30% for nonmotorized recreation. Below is a description of project types and their funding category.

Intended Use Type of Use Examples Funding Categories
NonMotorized Single Use Pedestrian or equestrian, or bicycle only Non Motorized Funding
NonMotorized Diverse Use Pedestrian, bicycle and skate; both pedestrian and equestrian Non Motorized and Diverse Funding
Diverse Use Equestrian in summer, snowmobile in winter (includes both motorized and nonmotorized trail use) Diverse Funding
Motorized Single Use Snowmobile only Motorized Funding
Motorized Diverse Use Snowmobile and Motorcycles Motorized and Diverse Funding

Funding Eligibility

The Priority Evaluation Form is based on the following rating criteria:

  • The proposed project must be legally and physically accessible to the public, or be a portion of an identified trailways project which, when completed, will be legally and physically accessible to the public.
  • The proposed project must be physically and environmentally developable as a trailway.
  • The proposed project must be planned and developed under the laws, policies and administrative procedures of the State.
  • The proposed project must be identified in; or further one or more specific goals of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) required by the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, or the Statewide Recreational Trail Plan as found at: http://nysparks.com/grants/forms-resources.aspx, or a local trails plan.

Rating Criteria

  • Project provides for innovative recreational trail corridor sharing for motorized and/or non-motorized use (maximum 5 points)
  • Project provides for motorized and/or non-motorized use that will enhance the quality and quantity of recreational trail opportunities (maximum 5 points)
  • Project provides development of urban trail linkages (maximum 4 points)
  • Project is identified as a component of a statewide or national trails system, or furthers a specific goal of SCORP or the Statewide Trails Plan or a local trail plan (maximum 5 points)
  • Index of Need – based on the "Relative Index of Needs" table in SCORP (maximum 5 points)
  • Citizens were/will be involved in proposal conception and implementation (maximum 3 points)
  • Project ties into other trails, greenways, scenic corridors, or natural, cultural, historical and recreational areas (maximum 4 points)
  • Volunteer labor, non-traditional labor and other certified donations will be used to accomplish this project (maximum 6 points)
  • Project will utilize existing corridors; (railroad right-of-way, canal towpath, utility lines, publicly owned river valleys or highland ridges, parkways, etc.) (maximum 3 points)
  • Project will improve the continuity of a trail system (maximum 4 points)
  • Project budget is reasonable, justified and cost-effective. (maximum 18 points)
  • Project addresses federal program initiatives (maximum 6 points)
  • Project advances the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Veterans' Initiative, or Opportunity Agendas of the Regional Economic Development Councils (maximum 2 points)
  • Regional Economic Development Council Assessment (maximum 20 points)

In addition, the Commissioner may award points based on any of the following Statewide Assessment Factors, up to a maximum of ten points per project:

  • the geographic distribution of other fundable projects in any given application cycle;
    • Consideration will be given to projects in areas that have or have not received funding in recent cycles or where funding is not commensurate with the population of the area. This will be based on the proximity to other funded sites/trails and diversity of projects being funded on a regional and local basis, as well as the service area of the developed or planned trails.
  • the extent to which the project will maximize the accessibility of a trail;
    • Consideration will be given to projects where funding will allow for improved access for the general public and linkages to public transportation systems.
  • special engineering, environmental and historic preservation concerns or benefits;
    • Consideration will be given to develop unique approaches to trail design and construction, and protection of environmental and cultural resources. This will be based on its uniqueness on a local, regional, statewide and national basis; the ability of an innovative technology to address an emergency or mitigate future problems; how well a technology can be "exported" for use on other properties and resources; and how/if the project will allow a user experience that would not otherwise be available.
  • the past performance, if any, of the project sponsor on previous projects, including its compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity and Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise programs;
    • Consideration will be given to how timely an applicant completed previous projects, including its reporting requirements; how successful it was in outreach, especially to minority- and woman-owned firms; the upkeep and maintenance of the property; and its cooperation in allowing OPRHP to complete inspections and other follow-up actions.

Eligible applications will be reviewed, rated, and ranked by region and funding category. It is not expected that all categories will be funded in all regions.

Prior to submitting your application, please contact your regional grant representative for the date and time of the pre-application meeting or to schedule an appointment to meet the representative. These workshops and meetings will provide important detailed information to help you submit a more competitive application.