ME Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Grants

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

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Predicted Deadline
The next cycle for this opportunity is predicted based on past data. If you save this grant, we’ll notify you if there are any changes.

Predicted deadline: Sep 24, 2022 2:00pm PDT

Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $120,000

Fields of work: Trail Creation & Maintenance

Applicant type: Government Entity, Nonprofit, Indigenous Group

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program, Capital Project

Location of project: Maine

Location of residency: Maine


What is the Recreational Trails Program?

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is an assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The RTP provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail uses.

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act reauthorized the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) for Federal fiscal years 2016 through 2020 as a set-aside of funds from the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside under Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG).

The State of Maine has agreed to take part in the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the federal agency that administers the program at the national level. 

The Bureau of Parks and Lands has been designated the state agency to administer the program in Maine. Within the Bureau, the Grants and Community Recreation Program provides day-to-day supervision of RTP matters.

Recreational Trails Program Financial Policies

  • 30% of RTP funds allocated to the state shall be reserved for uses related to motorized trail recreation
  • 30% of RTP funds allocated to the state shall be reserved for uses related to non-motorized trail recreation.
  • The remaining 40% of funds shall be used for recreational projects that facilitate diverse trail use.

Eligible Projects

Permissible uses of RTP grant funds include:

Development and Acquisition Grants

  • Maintenance and restoration of existing trails: may be interpreted to include any kind of trail maintenance (except routine maintenance), such as restoration, rehabilitation, or relocation. This category includes maintenance and restoration of trail bridges, or providing appropriate signage along a trail
  • Development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and linkages for recreational trails: may include development or rehabilitation of any trailside or trailhead facility, provided the facility has a direct relationship with a recreational trail. The definition of “rehabilitation” means extensive repair needed to bring a facility up to standards suitable for public use or to protect resources (not routine maintenance)
  • Construction of new recreation trails: may include construction of new trail bridges, or providing appropriate signage along a trail.
  • Acquisition of easements and fee simple title to property for trail purposes: may include acquisition of old road or railroad bridges to be used as recreational trail bridges. Acquisition of any kind of interest in property must be from a willing landowner/seller – cannot have a signed agreement in place, only a letter stating that landowner is willing to sell.
  • Improvements to trail access and use for persons with disabilities and/or special needs.
  • Creation, expansion, or improvement of water trails may include construction/restoration of boat landing infrastructure, kiosks/signage, outhouses and portage trails.
  • Construction of new trails on federal land provided the project has been approved by the agency(ies) charged with the management of the impacted land.
  • Purchase of trail building/grooming machinery* and equipment (grooming equipment may be eligible depending on funding levels of program.)
    • *Maine Trails Advisory Committee specifically excludes mechanized equipment from eligibility in Maine.
    • Hand tools are eligible expenses.

Development, Acquisition and or Combined grant awards will be funded at two levels:

  • Regular grants not to exceed $50,000.00 *Subject to funding level
  • Large Scale Projects – one award up to $120,000.00 per funding stream (Diverse, Non-Motorized, Motorized) will be considered

Safety/Environmental Education Grants

  • Funding of educational programs to promote safety and environmental education and protection as they relate to the use of recreational trails.
  • Funds can be provided for initial carrying capacity/startup of local projects/programs that the applicant has the ability to sustain after the initial RTP investment;
  • Funds can be provided, on an annual basis, for broad based projects/programs. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • trail safety signage programs
    • programs or activities (including printed material) intended to educate users regarding trailrelated
    • environmental issues
    • production of trail-related educational materials, whether on information displays, in print, video, audio, interactive digital displays, etc.

Safety and Environmental Education grant awards will not exceed $5,000.00.

Maine Goals for the Recreational Trails Program

  • Trails that provide linkages with existing or planned networks.
  • Trails that serve a wide spectrum of users.
  • Proposals that address landowners concerns.
  • Trails that provide relatively high use levels.
  • Proposals that provide "close-to-home" trails.
  • Proposals that enhance tourism and economic development.
  • Proposals that facilitate trail use for youngsters, seniors, and persons with disabilities.
  • Projects that are well planned.
  • Trails that are destination oriented.
  • Trails that further SCORP or other established planning goals.
  • Multiple use trail projects that address conflicts between user groups.
  • Proposals that have adequate matching resources.
  • Proposals that consider operation and maintenance needs.
  • Projects that leverage other private and public funding sources.
  • Projects that rehabilitate existing, well-used trails.
  • Projects that preserve rights-of-way for public recreation purposes.
  • Trails that provide high levels of user safety.
  • Trails that provide aesthetic or cultural benefits to users.
  • Projects that provide for reasonable longevity.

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


  • Grants may be awarded to any of the following (providing trail project is open without limitations)
    • Non-profit organizations
    • Municipal agencies (cities, towns, counties, school districts, etc.)
    • State agencies
    • Federal government agencies
    • Other governmental entities (Indian tribal governments, regional governments)
  • Match Requirement
    • RTP Development and Safety/Environmental Protection grants will not exceed 80 percent or the grant cap, whichever is less, of a project’s total cost
    • RTP Acquisition grants will not exceed 50% of the acquisition cost or the grant cap, whichever is less, of a project’s direct property costs.
    • The RTP grant is a reimbursement grant, meaning the applicant must be able to pay project costs in full as they are incurred prior to submitting requests for reimbursement of the federal share.
      • Applicants must provide at least 20% match for development and safety/environmental education grants and at least 50% for acquisition projects
  • Eligible Project Costs
    • Costs associated with project engineering/design and/or project administrative costs.
    • Employee salary for “on-the-ground” RTP project work in the field.
    • Consultant/contractor services.
    • Supplies and materials for grant assisted project work.
    • Signs and interpretive aids.
    • Construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance work on trails.
    • Construction of bridges, railings, ramps, fences and retaining structures.
    • Bank stabilization, re-vegetation (excluding ornamental landscaping), and erosion control.
    • Trailhead/side development including parking, restrooms, and related facilities.
    • Acquisition of land or permanent easements essential to trail access and/or trail development.
    • Equipment rental
  • See full details in the RTP Program Guidance Document. 


  • Projects Not Eligible: The following types of projects are inconsistent with RTP legislation or State RTP program guidelines, and are not eligible for RTP funding:
    • Condemned Land – The RTP legislation prohibits using RTP funds for condemnation of any kind of interest in property, or use of the value of condemned land toward the match requirement for an RTP project.
      • However, an RTP project may be located on land condemned with funds from other sources.
    • Feasibility Studies – Trail feasibility studies are not permitted in the RTP legislation.
    • Law Enforcement – Routine law enforcement is not permitted in the RTP legislation.
    • Planning – Trail planning is not a permissible use of RTP funds.
    • Road construction, sidewalks, gardening/landscaping, parks or park equipment, sprinklers, or campgrounds are not eligible. Campsites however are eligible.
    • Construction of motorized recreational trails on National Forest land that has been recommended for Wilderness designation.
    • Upgrading non-motorized trails for motorized use, where motorized use is prohibited or has not occurred.
    • Construction/improvements within a federal, state, county, or town road right-of-way.
    • Funding of staff/intern positions not related to a specific RTP-funded project/program.
  • Ineligible Project and Match Costs
    • Food for volunteers working on project.
    • Expenses related to the promotion of the organization.
    • Advertising.
    • Fund raising.
    • Facilities that are ornamental and do not have direct benefit to trail users.
    • Lodging (unless associated with Maine Conservation Corps expenses).
    • Clothing (T-shirts or other items).
    • General overhead costs (office rent, utilities, office supplies, postage, administrative time etc.).

This page was last reviewed July 28, 2021 and last updated June 12, 2021