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How the Recreational Trails Program Works
See below for Use of funds from the Recreational Trails Program
By Christopher B. Douwes, Federal Highway Administration
The premise of the RTP is to give states federal money in relation to fuel taxes generated within each state. This fuel tax money, when given to the states, is then used to fund trail programs.
Each state is responsible for administering the RTP within its state. Each state manages the program within the same general guidelines, but the details of when project applications are considered, and how projects are approved varies from state to state. The information in this overview is a general explanation to give you the tools you need to work within your state to implement a motorized trail project using RTP funds. When actually implementing your project you will find it very helpful to refer directly to the USDOT/FHWA manual.
The first thing to understand is what types of projects the RTP will help fund. Forty percent (40%) of state RTP funds must be used for diverse recreational uses, 30% must be used for non-motorized uses, and 30% must be used for motorized uses.
If your motorized trail project offers trail opportunities to a diverse group of motorized, or motorized and non-motorized, users, you may be able to access 70% of your states RTP dollars. A project is considered to be a diverse motorized use if it benefits more than one form of motorized use, such as four-wheel driving, ATVs, or motorcycles. A project is considered to be a diverse project if it benefits motorized as well as non-motorized uses, such as four-wheel driving and equestrian use where both share the same trail head.
Your State Recreational Trail Advisory Committee determines which projects will receive grant awards based upon predetermined eligibility criteria.
The next thing to understand is what amount of assistance this grant program will give for your total project. This grant program does not fund 100% of the project. Instead it permits 80% of the project to be funded by RTP money and then the other 20% must be funded by a non-federal source. This non-federal source can be through private donations, corporate sponsorship, volunteer hours, or in some cases, through local and state government assistance. The RTP is a reimbursement program. Therefore, you will be responsible for securing money to fund portions of the project up front and then receive reimbursement from the RTP. Check with your State Trails Administrator regarding the reimbursement conditions for the grants in your state because TEA-21 does authorize working capital (up-front money) advances from the federal government to the State for situations where your projects do not have sufficient working capital.
This is the outline of how the program works:
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Updated April 4, 2007