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"" Recreational Trails Grant Program Updates

New funding rules and a federal review of the RTP led to many programmatic changes over the last few years. Additional eligibility, construction monitoring, inspection, and recordkeeping requirements have been added. As a result, we need to make major changes to the Recreational Trails Program before approving new projects.New funding rules and a federal review of the RTP led to many programmatic changes over the last few years. Additional eligibility, construction monitoring, inspection, and recordkeeping requirements have been added. As a result, we need to make major changes to the Recreational Trails Program before approving new projects.

Program staff is busy developing comprehensive guidance documents that will incorporate all new program rules and requirements, in anticipation of a new funding round to be announced by the end of the year. The new guidance documents will provide clear timelines and direction, ensuring that projects comply with all applicable federal requirements and projects can be completed and reimbursed in a more expeditious manner. At the same time, we will continue to actively monitor and close all currently active projects and cancel any stalled ones, allowing us to redirect available funding to new projects and manage the program more efficiently.

We thank you for your understanding and patience and look forward to working with you as you continue to build, restore, and enhance New Jersey’s trails!

Trail pathGrant program overview

The Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides financial assistance to states for developing and maintaining trails and trail facilities. The RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use. Since the program’s inception in 1993, New Jersey has awarded more than $16 million to federal, state, county and local governments, and non-profit agencies. Projects are funded on an 80% federal share and 20% matching share basis. In 2010, over $1 million was available for projects. Of the funding available each year, 30% is allocated for non-motorized trail projects, 30% for motorized trail projects, and 40% for diversified use trail projects.

The DEP’s Green Acres Program administers the program in New Jersey. Projects are reviewed and recommended for funding by the New Jersey Trails Council and approved by the Federal Highway Administration under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. The Trails Council comprises interest groups for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, motorized trail use and canoeing/kayaking, as well as several general trail advocates and state government representatives.

Recreational Trails Program Fact Sheet (PDF, March 2016)
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General requirements of the program include:  

  • Permissible Uses and Projects: Maintenance and restoration of existing trails; development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages for trails (e.g., parking, signage, shelters, sanitary facilities); purchase and lease of trail construction and maintenance equipment; construction of new trails in existing parks or in new right of way; for motorized use only, acquisition of easement and fee simple title to property for trails.
  • High Point rocksActivities Not Eligible For Funding: Land condemnation; trail feasibility studies; law enforcement activities and personnel; road and sidewalk repairs; purchase of promotional materials; projects on land with railroad tracks; conversion of non-motorized trails to motorized use.
  • Qualifications Required For Consideration: Land on which trail facility is to be funded must be public land or private land with an easement for public recreational use.
  • Grant Limitations: Maximum grant award is $24,000 for non-motorized projects. Motorized grants can be as much as the total allocation for motorized use in any one year.
  • Factors Used To Evaluate Applications: The trail is in the NJ Trails Plan; length of trails; the trail connects to other trails, population or recreational centers; the proposal is innovative; the proposal provides disabled access; the trail provides for more than one activity; the project will restore to a useable or safe condition; the project is a partnership; the project is located in an urbanized area or an Urban Aid Community; the proposal is critical for erosion control, enhancement of natural features; the project is compatible with the surrounding landscape; and the project provides access to a scenic location. There are negative factors applied if the application is incomplete, has not yet obtained permits or it received negative determinations for impacts on cultural or natural features.
  • Applications for the current year: Due May 15, 2016.

Recreational Trails Program Grants Previously Awarded:
2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

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Last Updated: April 26, 2019