Recreational Trails Program

What is the Recreational Trails Program?

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users (SAFETEA-LU), the successor to the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), transfers a percentage of gasoline taxes paid on non-highway recreational use in off-highway vehicles from the Highway Trust Fund into the Recreational Trails Program for trail development, improvement and maintenance.

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

  1. 30% of RTP funds allocated to the state shall be reserved for uses related to motorized trail recreation
  2. 30% of RTP funds allocated to the state shall be reserved for uses related to non-motorized trail recreation.
  3. The remaining funds shall be used for recreational projects that facilitate diverse trail use.

Project Eligibility

Eligible projects may include:

  • Maintenance and restoration of existing recreational trails.
  • Development and rehabilitation of trail side and trailhead facilities and trail linkages for recreational trails.
  • Construction of new recreational trails.
  • Acquisition of easements or fee simple title to property for recreational trails or recreational trail corridors.
  • Operation of educational programs to promote safety and environmental protection as those objectives relate to use of recreational trails.

Who Is Eligible for RTP Grants?

The state has determined it will provide funds received under this program as grants-in-aid to municipalities, other qualified sub-divisions of state government and to qualified non-profit organizations under guidelines established by the Bureau of Parks and Public Lands in conjunction with the Maine Trails Advisory Committee.

How Are Grants Awarded?

Potential applicants may view the Grant Manual online, or contact the Grants and Community Recreation Program, Bureau of Parks and Lands, to receive an informational packet and application.

Applications must be received by the announced deadline and contain all required material to be eligible for possible funding.

Applications will be evaluated by Bureau staff and the Trails Advisory Committee to determine their degrees of compliance with the established state goals for the program. All applicants will be notified in writing of project approval or disapproval.

Local Funding Share

Recreational Trails Program grants are made on a matching basis. The federal share of the project costs shall not be more than 80% (maximum grant amounts may be set by the state). The local share may consist of cash or state-approved donations of labor and/or materials.

Public Use and Access

Applications for RTP funding must stipulate full support of the program and must ensure public access to the recreation improvements funded by the grant.

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.