Montana Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Grants

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

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Anticipated deadline: Jan 31, 2021 2:00pm PST

Grant amount: Up to US $90,000

Fields of work: Trail Creation & Maintenance

Applicant type: Indigenous Group, Government Entity, Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Montana

Location of residency: Montana

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Recreational trails provide benefits for all of us that include: public health, economic, transportation, and local community pride and identity. The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities in Montana.

Montana State Parks administers the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), a federally funded grants program that supports Montana’s trails.

The RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from nonhighway recreational fuel use: fuel used for off-highway recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-highway light trucks.

Grant Categories

The following RTP grant categories are offered:

  • The Small Grant category comprises sponsors requesting $20,000 or less per grant application. This category assists grant applicants with fewer grant-writing resources or smaller projects.
  • The Standard Grant category includes sponsors requesting $20,001-$45,000.
  • In the spirit of helping one or more RTP grant applicants move closer to the goal of completing a significant trails project, up to four Big Grants of $90,000 may also be available each RTP grant cycle. 

Eligible Projects

  • Operation of trails-related environmental protection and safety education programs.
  • Trails information, ethics education and interpretive information.
  • Development of urban trail linkages near homes and work places.
  • Trail projects on routes legally designated or otherwise appropriately approved by the land managing agency. 
  • Trails that are not currently under litigation in a court of law.
  • Construction and maintenance of trails:
    • Clearing/brushing on federal lands will only be allowed to the standard clearing widths identified in the appropriate federal agency trail guidelines. 
    • On federal lands, grants will only be approved for trails legally designated by the appropriate federal agency that are included in recognized forest plans, resource area plans, or travel plans. 
    • Broad scale maintenance will require specific trail identification and specific description of work to be accomplished. 
    • Weed control related to a trail or trail projects.
  • Restoration of areas damaged by trail use.
  • Development of trailside and trailhead facilities.
  • Providing features to assist disabled individuals.
  • Acquisition of easements and fee simple title of property for trails.
  • Signs and other traffic control devices.
    • However these devices must conform to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 
  • Buildings and facilities that are newly constructed or altered with federal funds are subject to the accessibility requirements contained in the Uniform Accessibility Standards. 
  • Purchase of equipment to be used on a long-term or seasonal basis and that is not available through rent or lease.
    • Sponsor must identify a methodology for long-term operation and maintenance of the equipment.
    • Equipment must clearly and solely benefit trail users and not be used in other settings.
    • Equipment should be rented if it will  not be used for ongoing maintenance specific to the proposed trail or trail systems. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • RTP applicants can include federal, tribal, state, county or city agencies, private associations and clubs.
  • Cost-Share Program:
    • 80% Recreational Trails Program Funds; 20% Sponsor Funds.
    • Federal grant sponsors must contribute a 5% non-federal match.  


  • Not Eligible Projects:
    • Land acquisition by condemnation.
    • Construction of new trails on federal lands.
    • Projects that displace fish and wildlife species or reduce habitat effectiveness; cause irreparable damage to vegetation, soils, water and wild public lands or substantially increase conflicts. 
    • Trail projects on routes not legally designated by the appropriate land managing agency.
    • Trails, or any project pertaining to that trail, currently under litigation in a court of law.
    • Projects that have the potential to substantially alter legal use patterns or make the trail substantially less desirable for the spectrum of current users. 
    • Projects that destroy or compromise the special characteristics of roadless lands.
    • Projects managed as profit making entities.
    • Upgrading, expanding or facilitating motorized use or access to recreational trails predominantly used by non-motorized recreational trail users and on which, as of May 1, 1991 motorized use was prohibited or had not occurred. 
    • Conversion of rural/backcountry single track trails to double track trails or the conversion of double track trails to routes wide enough to accommodate motor vehicles (cars, trucks). 
    • Motorized projects in wilderness study areas or inventoried roadless areas except for projects that rehabilitate areas damaged by use including trails. 
    • Facilities (shelters, toilets, picnic tables, benches, etc.) located in park settings which are not clearly and solely for the benefit of trail users versus an enhancement for  park users 
    • Feasibility Studies & Planning
    • Law Enforcement