Applying For a Grant

The Grant Review Process

What Happens After a Decision has Been Made?

Other Questions

Applying For a Grant

What is the Recreational Trails Program?

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. The RTP is an assistance program of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Federal transportation funds benefit recreation including hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, and using other off-road motorized vehicles.

What type of grant is covered by the Recreational Trails Program?

We currently offer two RTP grant opportunities for non-motorized and motorized trail projects.

NOTE: If applying for both a NON-MOTORIZED RTP fund and a MOTORIZED RTP fund, separate applications are required.

Who can apply for an RTP grant?

Federal RTP grants may be submitted by:

  • Federal Agencies
  • State Agencies
  • Political Subdivisions of the State
  • Organizations incorporated as nonprofit corporations in the state under Title 16, Chapter 6a (Utah Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act), for the purpose of promoting the interests of OHV recreation.

What are some eligible projects and asks for this grant? Are there any items that are ineligible or could disqualify my application?

✓ Acquisition of property for trails and/or trailheads.

✓ Maintenance and restoration of existing trails. 

✓ Development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities, including restrooms.

✓ Construction of new trails that increase regional connectivity.

✓ Purchase and/or lease trail construction and maintenance equipment.

✓ Construction of new trails (with appropriate authorizations on federally-managed lands). 

✓ Purchase or replacement of signs, kiosks, or other wayfinding infrastructure.

✓ Development and/or dissemination of trail-related publications ex. maps, brochures, etc.*

✓ Operation of educational programs to promote safety & environmental protection related to trails.*
X Trail planning, engineering, design, or the development of trail master plans.

X Development of campground facilities.

X Purchase of picnic tables, shade pavilions, or fencing.

X Landscaping improvements, including irrigation system development.

X Law enforcement or similar patrols.

X  Purchase of equipment made outside of America (Buy America Act).

X  Match of non-trail-related items.
X NEPA is unable to be completed within a year of grant award (if applicable).

X Project completion is scheduled for later than two years after the granting of RTP funds.

X Incomplete application checklist items. 

X Unsigned application.

X Unauthorized personnel as Primary Project Manager.

*Educational programming includes supporting non-law enforcement trail safety, trail-use monitoring patrol programs, and/or providing trail-related training. Total awarded educational grant funding is limited to 5% of a state’s total annual RTP funds.

**Ineligible projects and/or items should not be included in the project description or budget. Ineligible projects and/or items may also not be listed as in-kind or matching costs. See Section C for more details. 

When can I apply for this grant?

Applications are accepted from February 15 to no later than 5 p.m. May 1. The RTP application opens on February 15th and closes promptly at 5:00 p.m. on May 1st.

How can I submit my application?

All applications must be submitted through the online grant portal.

Can I submit my application electronically? 

Yes, as of 2022, applications can be submitted electronically through the online grant portal. No hard copy applications will be accepted.


Getting Started as a Submitter

Can I submit my application with an electronic signature? 

Yes, as of 2022, applications can be signed electronically.

I have a question about how to fill out the application. Who can I contact?

Please contact our RTP Coordinator, Tara McKee at Additional contact information can be found on the sidebar of this page. Please only contact staff who deal directly with the Recreational Trails Program grant.

Please understand that staff will only suggest alterations and will not write the application for you. Please do your research before reaching out. Last-minute calls or emails made on the due date may not take priority. Please do not wait until the last day to fill out the application.

How much money can we request?

Due to annual funding limits, applicants may request no more than $150,000 per application.

Do you require a match?

All funding awarded under the RTP program is subject to a 50/50 sponsor match. A match may consist of sponsor cash, in-kind services, volunteer labor, or donations. An additional requirement for a 5% non-federal share is imposed on federal agencies applying for funding.

This grant will not fund applications that do not meet a 50/50 match. 

Why do you require a substitute project manager?

We require a substitute or secondary project manager so that someone can always be reached if the primary project manager is unavailable.

The substitute project manager should be an individual from the applying organization who has the authority to sign and has knowledge of the project. They must also be willing to take over and complete the project should the primary become unable. Unauthorized personnel may not sign as the primary project manager. Doing so could lead to the disqualification of your application.

How long can our project timeline be?

Projects cannot start before September 1 of the year of application and must be completed within two years of the granting of RTP funds.

Note: No project construction may begin until NEPA has been complete and approved by UDOT and the RTP grant administrator (if applicable).

What if I applied for another grant outside of the division. Can this be considered a match?

Yes. Please include this information in your proposal and detail how you intend to fund the application if you do not receive funding for the other grant(s) outside the division. This application cannot be matched with other federal grants


  • State and Local Fiscal Assistance
  • HUD Community Development Block Grants
  • Community Impact Board
  • Public Works Employment Act
  • Job Training Partnership
  • National and Community Service State Grant Program
  • Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund 
  • Federal-aid highway program funds, such as the Federal Lands Highway Program, National Scenic Byways Program, and Transportation Enhancement Activities
  • Funds made available under the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
  • Federal funds made available to Indian tribes.
  • Challenge Cost-Share programs of Federal land management agencies.

Can I match with other state funds, like the Office of Outdoor Recreation grant?

Yes, you can match with other state grant funding opportunities.

What qualifies as a valid match? 

✓ Volunteer or staff labor quantified in hours.

✓ Value of land or easement donations (with appropriate documentation).
✓ Value of equipment donated, rented, or used for the project.

✓ Value of donated materials to support project construction.
X Costs for trail planning, engineering, design, or the development of trail master plans. 

X Mobilization costs for equipment or staff. 
X Costs for ineligible RTP requests, such as landscaping, picnic tables, campgrounds, etc.

Do you have any resources to assist with filling out my application?

See the Trails Construction Guidelines. These guidelines are general and the applicant should coordinate with appropriate land managers to understand the specific factors affecting trail design and construction techniques based on land management agency policies. All proposed projects shall follow these guidelines.

RTP Environmental Clearance Form

RTP Environmental Clearance Checklist

Nonprofit organization’s information. This is for informational purposes only.

Tips for Project Sponsors
Each state has its own procedures to solicit and select recreational trails projects for funding. A project sponsor should develop its proposal sufficiently so that the project can move quickly into implementation after project approval. The advisory councils score higher on projects that are “shovel-ready,” have NEPA (environmental clearance) complete, or soon to be complete, and projects that show connectivity.

Potential project sponsors should contact the State to find out the program requirements and criteria for project selection. A project sponsor should:

  • Prepare a project development plan. What aspects need to be addressed? Identify issues and steps which are critical to the project development process.
  • Develop a workable project. What are the trail needs? What can be done realistically?
  • Get public support for the project. How does the project benefit the community? Are there other potential project sponsors?
  • Find other funding sources. The normal Federal share is limited up to 80 percent.
    • In Utah, RTP projects are required to match 50/50. An additional requirement for a 5% non-federal share is imposed on federal agencies applying for funding. Some State or local governments may provide some matching funds, but usually the project sponsor has to provide most or all of the match.
  • Consider donations of materials and services, including volunteer labor.
  • Consider how to involve youth conservation or service corps in the project.
  • Develop a good project design.
  • Consider the natural environment in which the project is located.
  • Consider community benefits.
  • Consider user needs, including use by people with disabilities.
  • Consider potential problems:
    • Environmental impacts – these must be minimized and mitigated, and may require some documentation.
    • Permits – various permits may be needed prior to submitting the project proposal.
    • Possible opposition – some people may oppose a project for various reasons, including concerns about property rights, liability, safety, historic or archaeological impacts, or environmental impacts.
  • Complete the project application.
  • Work with the State to answer any questions about the application. Do not begin work until you receive official authorization to proceed. Work performed prior to Federal project approval cannot be reimbursed.
  • After the project receives Federal approval, project sponsor(s) should initiate the project as soon as possible. States may withdraw project approval if a sponsor does not show evidence of project progress within a reasonable time frame.

The Grant Review Process

Who decides which grant applications to fund?

Submitted applications will be reviewed by the Utah Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Council and/or Utah Recreational Trails Advisory Council. These councils were created by legislation and have been vested with the authority to select the recipients of the federal Recreational Trails Program grants in Utah. 

Projects that meet the standard for funding are submitted to the Combined Trails Advisory Council for review and funding recommendation. The Combined Trails Advisory Council generally meets during June to finalize the recommended award list. 

The finalized list of projects to be funded under RTP is submitted to the Utah Department of Transportation Commission for administrative approval and funding. Projects authorized for funding are placed on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list.

 Program staff supports the work of the councils but has no direct input on grant-making decisions.   

 What is the review process like? Are applications rated on a scale?

Yes, applicants are rated on a scale. The council scores each applicant individually before the advisory council meeting, then each is reviewed again during the meeting. Applications are given scores from 1 to 5. To date, applications that score an average of 3.5 or higher are recommended to be funded. This may change depending on the number of applications and funding available.

I have applied for a grant. When will a decision be made? When would funding start if my grant is approved?

Applications will be reviewed during May and June, with approvals anticipated in August or September. Applicants may be contacted to clarify the details and merits of their proposal. Applicants may also be contacted to arrange on-site tours of the project for Advisory Council members. Applicants are welcome to attend the grant review meeting to clarify their application to the council(s).

NOTE: No project work can begin until a fiscal assistance agreement is in place with the Utah Division of Recreation.

How will I be contacted to find out if I received funding for my grant?

We will primarily contact applicants through the online grant portal.

Please be responsive throughout every step of the grant process, even after your organization has received funding.

Why does it take so long to make a decision and award grants?

We recognize that it can be difficult to wait for a response about your grant proposal and have streamlined parts of our review process. We are committed to having a transparent process, and always let grant seekers know the timeline and expected announcement dates. Our grant review process can take three to four months from submission to decision. In some cases, another month is required to confirm the budget and outcomes for an approved project.

What Happens After a Decision has Been Made?

Our organization was awarded a grant. What should we do now?

Once a grant has been awarded, Fiscal Assistance Agreements (contracts) will be emailed to the project manager two to four weeks after the finalized list is submitted to the Utah Deptartment of Transportation Commission for administrative approval and funding.

Any project breaking ground requires environmental clearance regardless of land ownership and RTP project construction may not begin until NEPA has been complete and approved by UDOT and the RTP grant administrator. Applicants should have either completed NEPA or begun the process of obtaining the correct environmental clearance before applying. You can download a sample environmental clearance form by clicking here. You can view an Environmental Study – Preparer’s Checklist by clicking here.

 After the contract has been signed by the project manager, the division director signs off on the grant. It is sent to finance and assigned a contract number. When an official contract is in place, work can commence. Our staff will contact you with more information on how to proceed.

What if we began work before a contract was put in place between the division and the applicant?

No project work or associated items can begin until a Fiscal Assistance Agreement (contract)  is in place with the Utah Division of Recreation. Funds already spent toward the project prior to a grant award cannot count as a match, and cannot be paid from grant funds. 

Beginning a project prior to a contract being in place could be a reason for the division to forfeit funds.

How do we receive our funding?

Grant recipients will receive their funding once the project is completed and closeout documentation has been received and reviewed by staff.

Why was my grant request denied?

Please remember that it is discouraging for us to say “no” to good people doing important work. Applications are usually not turned down because they are “bad.” Occasionally, an application will be missing required material, so please double-check before submitting and make sure to include all of the required items on the application checklist.

Some applications fall outside the bounds of our guidelines.  Please read the guidelines carefully before investing time and energy in making an application. Generally, the reason your application is denied is because of stiff competition.  We always receive many more requests than our grant budget allows us to provide.

Is feedback available for declined proposals?

Yes! Our staff is more than willing to explain the reasoning for the declined proposal.

If I was denied previously, can I submit the same application again?

Yes, you can. If you have questions as to why your application was denied, please reach out to our staff. You can resubmit the application without changes, but your chances for success will be better if you do.

If an organization applies and is declined, will that hurt its chances of receiving funds in the future?

No. Each year there are many organizations the advisory councils are not able to fund. Some organizations do successfully receive a grant after having been initially declined. If your organization is declined, you may wish to contact our staff before submitting a new proposal to determine if your request fits within the application’s criteria.

Other Questions

Can I change my application after it has been submitted?

Yes, as long as the changes are submitted before the application’s closing date/time. Changes made after the closing date and time will not be considered.

I am waiting on letters of support and/or letters of commitment, can those be submitted after the deadline?

Yes, we allow letters of support and letters of commitment to be submitted up to one week after the closing date of the application. The deadlines for late letters must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on May 8.

Please inform staff if more letters are expected to arrive.

What is the difference between letters of support and letters of commitment?

Letters of support demonstrate the credibility of the applicant and are an outside testimonial that backs up an applicant’s claim.

A letter of commitment (a formal binding agreement between a lender and a borrower) should come from funding sources.

Can I use an old application from last year?

No, applications are updated annually. Please use the most up-to-date version of the application when applying.

My organization has received many years of funding from the RTP grant. Will this be considered a negative or positive in this competitive environment?

Some organizations have received RTP support for many years because of the unique nature of their services in the community. If the advisory council believes it is important to ensure that this work is continued, a new grant may be looked upon favorably. The advisory council will consider past performance when evaluating a new request, regardless of whether or not the organization has been previously funded.

Can my organization apply for a new grant if a current grant is already underway? 

Yes, you may apply even if you have a current grant underway. The advisory council will consider open grants when recommending applications. If an organization applies for multiple grants but has a history of incomplete grants or funds not being utilized before the deadline, this may influence the council’s decision to recommend the application.

Can I apply for more than one grant or multiple Division of Recreation grants?

Yes! You can apply for multiple grants. There is no limit. The application does have a section that asks for a history of grant submissions with the division, please keep that in mind when applying.

How can I increase my organization’s chances of being funded?

You should ensure that your organization meets the application criteria, follows guidelines, submits a complete application, and is responsive throughout the review process. Even if your organization is eligible and responsive, staff cannot guarantee that a grant will be funded.

The advisory councils score higher on projects that are “shovel-ready,” have NEPA (environmental clearance) complete, or soon to be complete, and projects that show connectivity.

What if we cannot complete the project by the deadline, can we get an extension?

Yes, we do allow modifications on grant timelines. Acceptance of extensions are limited and not guaranteed. We will extend projects for an additional year for valid requests. The Division of Recreation has the ability to reject extensions. To request an extension, please contact program staff for further steps. All modification requests must be vetted through the division director.

What if we need to modify our budget or scope of work after our application was approved?

Please contact program staff. If an organization wants to modify its budget, the organization must submit an updated budget and a formal request on letterhead. Further steps will then be taken.

A modified scope of work must be reviewed and approved by the advisory council that originally recommended the funding. A formal request on letterhead must be submitted in addition to an updated budget sheet (if applicable). Once approved by the council, further steps will be taken.

All modification requests must be vetted through the division director.

States may withdraw project approval if a sponsor does not show evidence of project progress within a reasonable time frame.

For more information, please contact RTP Coordinator, Tara McKee. Their contact information can be found on the sidebar.