Winning Non-motorized Trail Grants: How to Up the Odds

May 12, 2014

By Scott Post, PE

In my last post, I talked about where to find money for a non-motorized trail project. Here are nine ways you can help your project compete for grants:

  1. Have a written Recreation Plan, and designate non-motorized trails as your #1 priority.
  2. Commit as high a matching fund percentage as possible. Put a matching funds line item in your annual budget, so you can stockpile cash and react to an opportunity. Better yet, propose a millage for trails or parks. Many communities have discovered their constituents easily pass these millages.
  3. Provide connections to existing trails and trail networks, locally and especially regionally.
  4. Connect existing parks and schools together and with commercial and residential areas.
  5. Provide handicapped accessibility.
  6. Provide fishing or wildlife viewing opportunities.
  7. Have preliminary design completed and ready to go when funds become available. Your project doesn’t need to be “shovel ready”, but if preliminary design is complete it can easily be finished to the particular requirements of any grant program. If not, at least have a good cost estimate ready so you do not request too little grant funding.
  8. Develop your operations and maintenance plan and budget before building your trail or applying for grants. This shows funders your commitment to being a good steward of their money.
  9. Develop a “Friends of the Trail” group. This shows community support, commitment, and organization. “Friends” groups are typically official non-profit entities. This way private donations to your trail project are tax deductible!

 

Are you looking for ways to turn your trail dreams into reality? I would love to hear from you.

Scott Post is a board member at the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition. He has designed nearly 150 miles of non-motorized trails in Michigan.


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