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RECREATION PLANNING

Virginia Recreational Trails Fund Program FAQ

What is the Virginia Recreational Trails Program? The program provides funding for recreational trails and trail related facilities for motorized and non-motorized recreational uses. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) administer the program in Virginia.

On what can the recreational trail funds be used? The Recreational Trails Program mandates that 30 percent of the monies received annually be reserved for uses relating to motorized recreational trails and that 30 percent be reserved for uses relating to non-motorized recreation. The remaining 40 percent is given to projects with the greatest number of compatible recreational purposes and/or which provide for innovative recreational use sharing. Eligible activities include the construction of new trails, new trailhead facilities, maintenance and/or rehabilitation of existing trails.

Who may apply for assistance from this program? Assistance through this program is available to cities, towns, counties, state agencies, Indian tribal governments and non-profit organizations. Federal agencies, such as the forest service, may also be eligible. When federal funds are pledged as the RTP project match, however, the combined total of RTP grant funds requested and other federal matching share funds may not exceed 95 percent of total project costs. In such cases, at least 5 percent of project costs must come from state, local or private sources.

Is there a limit to how much funding an applicant may request? Yes. The maximum award request for non-motorized and diversified projects is $200,000; the minimum request is $25,000.

What types of projects are eligible? Eligible activities include:

  • Development of trail linkages
  • Construction of new trails
  • Restoration of existing recreational trails
  • Development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities (trailsides, signs, etc.).
  • Features that facilitate access and use of trails by those with disabilities.
  • Construction of new trails crossing federal lands, where such construction is approved by the administering agency of the state and the federal agency or agencies charged with management of all impacted lands. Such approval is contingent upon compliance by the federal agency with all applicable laws.

Would you give examples of ineligible projects? Examples of ineligible activities include:

  • Condemnation of any kind of interest in property.
  • Construction of new trails for motorized use on national forest land that has been recommended for wilderness designation.
  • Road construction, sidewalks, gardening/landscaping, park acquisition, sprinklers or campgrounds.
  • Planning proposals, gap analysis and feasibility studies, or any combination thereof.

Does this program require a match? What is a matching share? Yes.

Project sponsors must provide at least a 20 percent of the resources needed to complete the project. Availability of these resources, called the “applicant’s matching share,” must be confirmed before formal approval. This share may come from several sources including appropriations, bonds, force accounts and donations (private funds, materials, right-of-way, and services) at fair market value to be counted toward the match.

For donations, documentation supporting the value must be provided for approval prior to being awarded a grant. Donations of existing state or local government right-of-way, materials or services cannot be credited toward the match. When federal funds are pledged as the RTP project match, be aware that the combined total of RTP grant funds requested and other federal matching share funds may not exceed 95 percent of total project costs. In such cases, at least 5 percent of project costs must come from state, local or private sources.

This is a reimbursement program. As such, the grant recipient must pay 100 percent of the cost of an eligible item before submitting a request for reimbursement for 80 percent of eligible costs. For example, $5,000 in eligible expenditure x 80 percent = $4,000 reimbursed to the grant recipient.

When must the matching share be available? The matching share is a critical component of the grant application evaluation. One of the criteria on which applications are scored is the budget. Applicants must demonstrate their capacity to fund the project over the life of the grant while seeking periodic reimbursements.

When is the next application (i.e., Preliminary Application) deadline? At 4 p.m., Dec. 5, 2013. Applications received after that time cannot be considered.

Are postmarks accepted for meeting the application deadline? No. The Preliminary Application must be received by DCR by 4 p.m., April 13, 2012, to be considered for funding.

How are award selections made? Funding is made available through a competitive grant round. First, DCR announces an open grant round with a project application deadline. Then the Virginia Recreational Trails Advisory Committee reviews and scores applications against published scoring criteria. Projects recommended for funding must go through an environmental analysis in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. At a minimum, this includes the Endangered Species Act, Historic Preservation Act, Executive Orders 11988 and 11990 for Floodplain Management and Wetland Protection, and, if applicable to the specific project, a Consistency Determination in accordance with the Coastal Zone Management Act.

How will I know the status of my proposal? All sponsors submitting an RTP Application are notified of their status by phone and in writing whether or not the application has been recommended for funding.

Once the project is formally approved, will the sponsor be asked to do anything other than complete the project? Yes. Grant recipients will be required to manage project agreements, provide quarterly progress reports, adhere to applicable federal, state and local laws, manage and document reimbursement requests, and provide required supporting documentation that must accompany the request (copies of all invoices and billing records, timesheets, etc.).

How does a project sponsor get the money awarded for their project? This is a reimbursement program. Reimbursements are made only on eligible expenditures for elements listed in the scope of work described in the RTP project agreement. The project sponsor must expend the funds for the materials, contracts, etc., before requesting reimbursement. Project sponsors must submit copies of all bills, invoices and proof of payment (front and back of canceled checks, credit card receipts, etc.) with the reimbursement request. DCR receives the money from FHWA for payment to the project sponsors. There are no state funds for recreational trails.

What expenses are eligible? Eligible expenses are the contract, materials and labor expenses for the authorized scope of work defined in the project agreement. Indirect costs and administrative expenses are ineligible for reimbursement.

Are any grant-writing tips available? Yes. Click here.

Whom may I contact for help? Synthia Waymack. Email synthia.waymack@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-4379.