IDNR offering grants for recreational trails, paths

IDNR offering grants for recreational trails, paths

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently announced that applications will be accepted through March 14 for grants through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), Off-Highway Vehicle Recreational Trails Program (OHV) and Illinois Bicycle Path Grant Program.

The Recreational Trails Program is a reimbursement grant program that provides 80 percent of project funding with a required 20 percent local match. This grant program is federally funded and is administered by IDNR in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The funds can be used to assist government agencies and trail groups in the rehabilitation, development, maintenance and acquisition of recreational trails and related facilities. The trails may be motorized, non-motorized or multiple use trails. RTP funds can also be used for environmental protection and safety education projects related to trails. The program is funded through the transfer of federal gas taxes paid on fuel used in off-highway vehicles used for recreational purposes; it generally has $1.5 million available for grants, with a maximum development grant amount of $200,000. There is no maximum on acquisition grants.

The primary purpose of the OHV is to provide financial aid to government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and other eligible groups or individuals to develop, operate, maintain and acquire land for OHV parks, trails and trail-side facilities that are open and accessible to the public in Illinois, and to restore areas damaged by unauthorized OHV use. Funds for the program are derived from revenue generated in the state treasurer’s Off-Highway Vehicle Trails Fund. OHV will reimburse up to 100 percent of total approved project costs up to the maximum. If necessary, the remainder of the costs will be borne by the project sponsor. OHV is a reimbursement program, meaning that a project sponsor must have sufficient cash, donations or eligible in-kind services to pay for work, and then be paid back the grant percentage after approval of a reimbursement request. The OHV program will have approximately $690,000 available for grants in 2019. There are no maximum grant amounts.

The Illinois Bicycle Path Grant Program provides financial assistance to eligible local units of government to assist them with the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public off-road, non-motorized bicycle paths and directly related support facilities. Agencies that apply for projects that accommodate additional trail users, such as equestrians, will receive special consideration in the review of grant applications. Project applications are limited to land acquisition or trail development along a single trail corridor. Looped trails within a single parcel or park site are not eligible for this funding. These projects, however, may be eligible for Recreational Trails Program or Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant assistance. The only exceptions are looped trails within very large preserves. Bicycle routes sharing existing roadway surfaces are also not eligible for funding consideration under this program. The program will reimburse up to 50 percent of total approved project costs up to the maximum allowable cost. The remainder of the costs will be borne by the project sponsor. The program has approximately $12.1 million available for project assistance; there is a $200,000 maximum grant amount for development projects but no maximum for acquisition projects.

Applications must be submitted to IDNR by 5 p.m. on March 14. For more information, visit dnr.illinois.gov or call the IDNR Grants main line at (217) 782-7481.