Recreational Trails Program RTPL Frequently Asked Questions

How was the Louisiana Trails Program created?

The FHWA Recreational Trails Program for Louisiana (RTPL) is a State-administered, Federal-aid grant program funded by the National Recreational Trails Fund Act (NRTFA) of 1991 for the purpose of providing and maintaining recreational trails and trails-related facilities. The program is administered at the National level by the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in consultation with the Department of the Interior. Within Louisiana, the Louisiana Office of State Parks, Division of Outdoor Recreation, is tasked with administration of the program. NRTFA was established to redirect tax revenues generated from the sale of motor fuel used for off-highway recreational purposes to both motorized and non-motorized recreational trail and facility improvements.

What is the available funding?

The National Recreational Trails Act mandates that not less than 30 percent of the monies received annually shall be reserved for uses relating to motorized recreation and not less than 30 percent shall be reserved for uses relating to no motorized recreation. To ensure diversified trail use, the remaining 40 percent may be used for both motorized and non-motorized uses, but preference will be given to projects with the greatest number of compatible recreational purposes and/or which provide for innovative recreational use sharing.

Is there a match?

This is a reimbursement program; therefore, the grant recipient must pay 100% of the cost of an item before submitting a request for reimbursement for 80% of eligible costs, i.e.

($5,000 in eligible billings submitted) X 80% = $4,000 reimbursed to grant recipient.

The program encourages the donation of private funds, materials, right-of-way, and services at fair market value to be counted toward the match. However, donations of existing State or local government right-of-way, materials, or services cannot be credited toward the local match.

If awarded how will I get the money?

Reimbursements will be made only for those scope items that were listed on the Project Agreement and subsequent approved amendments. Normally, requests for reimbursements are processed and funds dispersed within 3 to 5 weeks.

What is the Louisiana Recreational Trails Advisory Committee?

The Louisiana Recreational Trails Advisory Committee is comprised of a diverse group of parties with specific interests in recreational trails. The group meets regularly to identify the major trail issues facing Louisiana. The board is comprised of both motorized and non-motorized trail users and agency personnel. Among the groups and agencies currently represented are: National Park Service, Department of Culture Recreation & Tourism, Department of Transportation & Development, LA, Off-Road Vehicle Association, FHWA, National Forest Service, Louisiana Paddlers, LDWF, South LA Trailblazers, Louisiana Hiking Club, LA 4X4 Club and the New Orleans Metro Area Mountain Bike Association.

What are the requirements for trail planning?

The intent of the Trails Fund Act states that the funds should be used for trails and trail-related projects which have been planned and developed under existing laws, policies, and administrative procedures within Louisiana: The projects should further a specific trail-related goal in the Louisiana Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) or in a local/regional comprehensive plan. The 1993-1998 SCORP identified the following trail-related issues:

  • Protect natural resources, habitats, and areas.
  • Improve interagency cooperation and public/private partnerships to meet recreational needs (state, federal, local, school districts, private organizations, corporations, etc.).
  • Increase funding for state and local recreation.
  • Develop a comprehensive statewide trails program (walking, nature, canoes, bikes, horses, motorized off-highway vehicles, etc.).
  • Increase opportunities for youth in recreation programming and planning.
  • Increase opportunities for seniors (older adults) in recreation activities.

What type of projects are permitted?

A grant recipient may use monies received under this Program on actual trail or trail-related projects such as:

  • Construction of new trails on state, parish, municipal or private lands, where a recreational need for such construction is shown.
  • Redesign, reconstruction, no routine maintenance, or relocation of trails in order to mitigate and minimize the impact to the natural environment.
  • Structure design or engineering, or GPS mapping when included with trail development (not to exceed 5% of grant).
  • Trail development and renovation activities such as: subgrade preparation, base course, soil sterilization, earthwork, erosion control, revegetation, natural and hardened surfacing, culverts, low-water crossings, bank improvements, retaining walls, guard rails, and hand rails.
  • Bridges and boardwalks may be constructed, repaired, or replaced to provide an integral link along a trail, to provide connections between trails.
  • Development of trailside and trailhead facilities. This includes trail components or associated facilities which serve the purpose and safe use of the recreational trail, and may include, but are not limited to, the following: drainage, crossings, stabilization, parking, signage, controls, shelters, hitching rails, bike racks, fencing, motorized access barriers, water, restroom facilities.
  • Providing access and use of trails by persons with disabilities.
  • Acquisition of easements for trails or for trail corridors identified in a trail plan.
  • Acquisition of fee simple title to trail Right Of Way (ROW) property from a willing seller, when the objective of the acquisition cannot be accomplished by acquisition of an easement or by other means.
  • Construction of new trails crossing federal lands, where such construction is approved by the administering agency of the State, and the Federal agency or agencies charged with management of all impacted lands. Such approval to be contingent upon compliance by the Federal agency with all applicable laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

What type of projects are not permitted?

A grant recipient may not use monies received under this Program for:

  • Planning or environmental documentation.
  • Condemnation of any kind of interest in property.
  • Construction of new trails for motorized use on National Forest land that has been recommended for Wilderness designation.
  • Road construction, sidewalks, gardening/landscaping, park acquisition, sprinklers, or campgrounds.

What are the recommended project guidelines?

Projects selected for funding should:

  • Follow guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in providing for trail access and consider the needs of the elderly and families with small children.
  • Further a trail-related goal in the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) or local/regional comprehensive plan.
  • Include a commitment for maintenance and long-term public access.
  • Have written permission and support of land manager(s).
  • Include a commitment to starting and completing the project quickly and efficiently.
  • Provide for trail use in a manner sensitive to the environment.
  • Plan for the needs of the widest variety of trail users and accommodate them safely.
  • Solicit Disadvantaged Businesses when contracting out work.
  • Include resolution of support from local government

For more information about the Recreational Trails Program, consult the Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trails Summary.

Application for Recreational Trails Grants 

Overview of the Recreational Trails Grants Program

Sponsors interested in applying for an RTP grant are encouraged to contact:

For other information contact:

Division of Outdoor Recreation:

Mitchell Aleshire 225/342-8102 or Suzette Simms 225/342-8088

Email: [email protected]

Office of State Parks

P.O. Box 44426

Baton Rouge, LA 70804-4426

[email protected]

1-888-677-1400 toll free phone

342-8111 in the Baton Rouge area