VT Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

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Grant amount: Up to US $50,000

Next anticipated deadline: Oct 31, 2020 (Pre proposal)

Later anticipated deadlines: Dec 17, 2020 (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit Elementary / Secondary School College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Vermont

Location of residency: Vermont

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The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a federal assistance program of the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), administered at the State level to provide funds for trail development and trail maintenance projects.

The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) administers RTP in Vermont. Each fall FPR solicits RTP grant applications for trail projects from municipalities and non-profit organizations.

Both motorized and non-motorized trail projects may qualify for assistance.

Vermont's RTP grant awards typically range from $5,000 to $50,000. Grants are awarded to well-planned projects that will help develop, protect and create sustainable trails and trail systems, create linkages to communities, improve livability and user-ability, and maintain public recreational use.

Eligible Project Categories

  • Construction of: New recreational trails or trail linkages; trailhead areas/parking facilities; and trailside facilities directly associated with the recreational trail;
  • Maintenance, renovation, or restoration of recreational trails;
  • Improvements to signage or trail structures along the trail;
  • Assessment of existing trail conditions for accessibility and trail improvements to improve accessibility;
  • Professional project management for project oversight;
  • Equipment purchases;
  • 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. 

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


  • Municipalities, non-profit organizations, and other governmental entities may apply.
  • You may apply for a grant for 80% of a trail project's estimated cost, up to $50,000.  
    • Applicants must come up with 20% of the project cost as the sponsor's match (also referred to as the sponsor's "share")
  • Buy America requirements apply to all projects.


  • Recreational Trails Program funds may not be used for:
    • Advertising;
    • Appraisal fees and legal fees related to acquisitions;
    • Property Condemnation of any kind (eminent domain);
    • Construction of trails within a federally designated wilderness area;
    • Contingencies;
    • Upgrading, expanding, or otherwise facilitating motorized use or access to recreational trails predominantly used by non-motorized recreational users, and on which, as of May 1, 1991, motorized use was prohibited or had not occurred;
    • Facilities that are ornamental and do not have a direct benefit to trail users;
    • Stand-alone feasibility studies & stand-alone trail planning: Trail feasibility studies are not among the permissible uses in the RTP legislation. The permissible uses relate to actual on-the-ground trail projects. Therefore, a project proposal for the sole purpose of planning or performing a trail feasibility study would not be eligible.
    • Food for volunteers working on a project;
    • Costs associated with fund raising;
    • Law enforcement;
    • Lodging;
    • Payments which are not in compliance with relevant state or federal laws or regulations;
    • Payments in conflict with 501(C)(3) regulations such as payment of board members;
    • Promotional items (t-shirts, patches, caps, buttons, pens, etc. promoting an organization);
    • Railroads: Before approving a trail on a railroad right-of-way, States must ensure that the railroad has been rail banked, and the trail project has a legal right to be located on the railroad right-of-way;
    • Roads: RTP funds may not be used for improvements to roads and/or bridges for general passenger vehicle use, unless those roads/bridges are specifically designated for recreational use by the managing agency;
    • If Vermont towns designate class IV roads to be used for recreational use(s), and you are applying to maintain a class IV road that has been designated by the town for recreational use, a completed Class IV road resolution form must accompany the grant application;
    • Sidewalks adjacent to public roads; RTP funds should not be used to provide shoulders or sidewalks along roads unless the shoulders or sidewalks are necessary to complete a trail link;
    • Paved multi-use/bike paths; (NOTE: if you are planning on developing a paved path, contact the Vermont Agency of Transportation Local Facilities section) 
    • Publication reprints;
    • Purchase of tools or equipment that would be used for other than trail purposes;
    • Trail work on land where landowner permission for public access for public use of trails has not been granted;
    • Value of citizen volunteer’ time at public forums or public meetings;
    • Disc golf. Like many outdoor recreational sports, this activity is considered outside the scope of what RTP funds were intended for and is not eligible for RTP funding. It is referred to as a park facility. RTP funds are intended to build trails, not parks.