Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
PlanningEnvironmentReal Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Awards Contacts

2006 State Trail Administrators Meeting

Meeting Notes

Final Meeting Notes

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

List of Common Abbreviations

ARC: American Recreation Coalition
ATV: All Terrain Vehicle
BLM: Bureau of Land Management
COTI: Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative
CRT: Coalition for Recreational Trails
IMBA: International Mountain Bicycling Association
ISTEA: Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
ITDS: Interagency National Trail Data Standards
GIS: Geographic Information Systems
MOU: Memorandum of Understanding
NOHVCC: National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council
NTTP: National Trails Training Partnership
OHV: Off Highway Vehicle
RTP: Recreational Trails Program
USDA: United States Department of Agriculture

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Introductions / State Show and Tell

Robert (Bob) Richards (TN)
After a 3-year planning process, RTP Education funds were used to produce the 2006 Southern Appalachians Greenways Alliance (SAGA) plan. The SAGA Plan is a 4 color, 115 page document that covers 2 states and 10 counties in northeast TN and Southwest VA. TN has changed its grant cycle from one year to two years in order to coincide with other state park and recreation grant programs. There were 147 grant applications in the 2006 grant cycle for both programs with $2 million awarded in RTP grants. TN follows the LWCF guidelines and all trail projects are to be maintained into perpetuity. Maintenance commitment is part of the TN grant application. A comprehensive grant self-inspection process has been developed and is available on CD. TN grants must be inspected once every 5 years and RES staff will follow up if the self-inspection report is not returned.

Cheryl Surface (NV)
Nevada developed a 3-day trails training symposium, working with multiple counties and the Forest Service. It was coordinated with the Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative (COTI) to develop training. Nevada is initiating more trail efforts to promote and increase standards.

Jessica Terrell (NM)
New Mexico has received initial funding for efforts related to the planning, design and construction of a multi-use trail along the Rio Grande from the Mexico border to the Colorado border. It would coincide with the Camino Real and other historic transportation routes. New Mexico State Parks will take the lead on a feasibility study and public outreach effort in early 2007.

Alex Weiss (FL)
Florida awarded a motorized project to Lee County to develop first countywide ATV / dirt bike area in Hendry County near a landfill. This will be the first one not in a State or National Forest. There is a big buffer between the riding area and landfill.

Dick Westfall (IL)
Dick handed out a copy of the new Grand Illinois Trail brochure. Illinois is leveraging the fact that big trail projects have a way of stimulating other smaller projects.

Bob Walker (MT)
Bob completed a trail user survey (1 year effort), a new OHV ethics program effectiveness survey, and a snowmobile economic impact study. Many of these are available in electronic format: contact Bob Walker.

Montana recently held a statewide training conference, which it holds every 2 years. This year's featured topic was rail-trails. Current trends in Montana:

Christopher Douwes brought up a question about whether rail-trail surfaces are accessible to road bikes. Discussion ensued about number of trail miles paved, unpaved, and general surface type discussion. The group discussed the National Trails Surface Study from the National Center on Accessibility (http://ncaonline.org/trails/research/). Rocky Houston (Oregon) is involved. The paperwork is intensive, and few States are participating.

Steve Morris (IN)
The governor has taken an interest in the Trails Program. He wanted Indiana to develop a new State Trails Plan which will be available soon on the state website. The trails plan is a visionary system of 2000 miles of trails. The goal of the plan is to make a trail available within 7.5 miles (15 minutes) from every Hoosier resident. Ray Irvin from INDOT reported that Indiana is also looking at co-locating other infrastructure, such as water lines and cable lines, under trails in former railroad corridors which run extensively throughout Indiana.

Indianapolis is planning to build a cultural urban trailway. Many of the cities trails come to the edge of downtown and end. Users are left to fend for themselves on city streets. This effort would build a 7+ mile trail that would encircle the downtown area. So far this $50 million project has $35 million in funding.

Andrew Korsberg (MN)
Minnesota created Trail Planning and Design and Development guidelines. It focuses on sustainable design and design guidelines. The guide is available to those interested. Contact Andrew.

Potential new topics for next meeting:


Update on Guidance

Reviewed handouts:

Please send comments on the draft RTP guidance to Christopher Douwes, and copy your FHWA division office.

Memorandum

The 2007 apportionment figures are out and posted at /environment/recreational_trails/funding/. All States may use 80% plus sliding scale, which allows a higher Federal share in States with large proportions of Federal lands (generally the western States with a lot of Federal lands: see the sliding scale rates at www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/notices/n4540-12.htm). Only a few eastern States have the option of using the sliding scale: in almost all eastern States, the maximum Federal share remains at 80%. States may choose to maintain a 50% share.

The Introduction and Background haven't changed significantly. The only changes are to the MOUs at the bottom. The National Scenic and Historic Trails MOU will be replaced by an MOU for the National Trails System. The Public Health and Recreation MOU is new.

Clarification: The use of RTP funds on a facility does not mean that the project can't use other transportation funds in later years. Alex Weiss from Florida brought up the point that funding an RTP project may make subject to Section 4(f). Christopher says this is a good point and to check with your State DOT.

The Brooks Act requires agencies to promote open competition by advertising, selecting, and negotiating engineering and design related services contracts based on demonstrated competence and qualifications for the type of services being procured, and at a fair and reasonable price. It applies to highway construction within a Federal-aid highway right-of-way (ROW), so it should not affect most RTP projects. Nevertheless, States should promote fair and open competition.

Buy America affects construction projects that permanently incorporate steel and iron products into the construction. For RTP projects, this is most likely for bridges. It may affect signposts if the cost of steel or iron exceeds the threshold value of $2,500.

Compliance with Federal Law and Regulations: This is a new item in the guidance, but it has been in effect. An FHWA division administrator may withhold funds if program requirements are not met. This has occurred on rare occasion: one county's RTP project was held up because the county did not comply with highway bridge program requirements; this was a way to get the county to comply. An FHWA division administrator would use this provision only as a last resort to force a State to meet highway program requirements.

Convict Labor Prohibition / Davis Bacon: If your trail crosses into the highway right-of-way, does the Convict Labor prohibition and does the Davis Bacon Act apply? Current policy is that these requirements apply if a project is located within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway. However, another interpretation is that these requirements only apply if the project is a highway construction project within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway. We still need a final interpretation.

Mary Fitch from Ohio asked if the convict labor prohibition only applies to Federal convicts. Christopher says it applies to all convicts, including State and local convicts.

Maintenance: The RTP allows trail maintenance. However, under 23 U.S.C. 116, projects completed under the Federal-aid highway program (such as TE projects), must be maintained without using Federal-aid highway program funds. Therefore, project sponsors using other Federal-aid funds to construct a project should read project agreements carefully: is the project agreement worded to disallow using RTP funds in the future? FHWA plans to amend 23 U.S.C. 116 in the next reauthorization to make technical corrections and to make sure §116 does not prohibit States from using RTP funds for maintenance on trails that used other Federal-aid funds.

A National Trails Symposium Session covered Trails Operation and Maintenance.

User Fees: A user fee must be reasonable. We don't want situations where discrimination occurs. A parking lot or park entrance fee would not be considered a user fee if it is not trail specific. Rates must be reasonable, but it is up to the State to set the fee. Money collected from user fees should go into funding maintenance to reduce overall demand on RTP funds.

There was a question about plowing trailhead parking lots and access routes, as a service paid for through an entrance fee. Most States plow access routes and trailhead lots as part of routine highway plowing or other routine operational costs. Some States pay for plowing through user fees: this is an appropriate fee-for-service situation. Some States use RTP funds to plow trailhead parking lots and access [Christopher covered his ears when he heard this]. Nothing in legislation says you can't, but it is unlikely that it was intended in the original RTP legislation. Christopher doesn't approve, but the guidance will remain silent.

Project Approval and Oversight: Each State should have a stewardship agreement with the FHWA division office to cover the RTP. You were supposed to have done this in 1998-1999. If you don't have an approved stewardship agreement, establish one as soon as possible. Use the State DOT's stewardship agreement as a model.

Uniform Act: All project sponsors must comply with the provisions of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended. This Act upholds the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: "... nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation".
Q: If part of a trail was acquired without following the Uniform Act, does that make the whole trail ineligible for Federal-aid funds?
A: No. The section of the trail that did not comply with the Uniform Act is not eligible for Federal-aid funds, but the parts that complied with the Uniform Act may be eligible. The trail endpoints should have logical termini (ending at reasonable connection stopping points, and not simply ending at the property line of the property in question).

Obligation Limitation:

FHWA's payment process should make payments the same or next business day (assuming the invoices or vouchers are acceptable to the FHWA division). If there are problems or delays in receiving a payment, contact your FHWA division office. If the division office found the invoice unacceptable, find out why! If there is a disagreement, ask the division office to consult with FHWA headquarters. Do not bypass the division or go "fishing for answers".

Disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE): The State DOT must take responsibility for DBE compliance. In many States, RTP projects may fall below the threshold for DBE requirements. However, all RTP project sponsors who have parts of their projects bid out to contract should receive a State-certified DBE listing, and should be encouraged to use DBEs.

The Uniform Transferability provision gives the States flexibility to transfer funds among Federal-aid highway program funding categories. This includes allowing States to transfer funds in to or out of the RTP.

Donations of Funds, Materials, Services, or New Right-of-Way: Any project sponsor, whether a private individual or organization, or a public agency (except for Federal agencies), may donate funds, materials, services (including volunteer labor), or new right-of-way to be credited to the non-Federal share of an RTP project, limited to costs incurred less than 18 months prior to project approval. Federal project sponsors may provide funds, materials, or services as part of the Federal share, but may not provide new right-of-way.

Project Closeout: A new FHWA regulation on Project Closeout talks about State Highway Department or State DOT. This doesn't mean that a nonhighway department is off the hook. FHWA will change wording to "State Agency" as it makes revisions in the future. Make sure you go into the system and close out old projects. Obligate all your ISTEA money in FY 2007 or you will lose it.

Florida puts multiple projects under one "priority" or project to keep inactive projects from being dumped. This may be a way to get around, but it is important keep projects moving forward.

Other Eligibility Issues

Training of Safety patrols: use Education funds. Use administrative funds to train State Trail Program employees.

The RTP is not a planning grant program. General trail feasibility studies are not eligible.

In general, insurance is not a permissible expense, with a few exceptions. Some insurance costs may be allowable. Can a sponsor use insurance costs as match? No. You can't use as a match something that would not be an eligible cost in the first place.

Funding for trail patrols is not meant to fund local law enforcement. A trail safety patrol is separate from law enforcement.

Legal expenses are not eligible unless directly project related or required. A lawyer volunteering time could be reimbursed at a higher rate for the value of his skills, but not if he or she were volunteering unskilled manual labor. In this case, he or she would be reimbursed at the same rate as an unskilled laborer doing the same work.


Breakout Discussions

Trails Databases / GIS

Education Projects: Safety & Environment
Everyone agrees on the need for education funding:

Some questions about what is appropriate:

Dealing with Conflict of Interest Issues

How do different States address conflicts?

Research & Development: Current Priorities, Future Needs

Brian Vachowski, Project Leader
USDA Forest Service, Missoula
(406) 329-3719; bvachowski@fs.fed.us

The Forest Service has been getting more requests for print materials, which are, unfortunately, expensive. We are trying to encourage people to use electronic versions from recreation websites, reports, videos, and DVDs.

Many electronic versions are available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/publications/fs_publications/. New resources this year include:

The problem with new mechanized equipment is that the trails-specific market is quite small. New equipment generally has to be made for the landscape or forestry market. Some ideas for information and products needed:

What is best way to get the materials out to people?

Include in categories on www.AmericanTrails.org and www.NTTP.net to make information easier to find. Have NTTP do an informal survey on how trails information should be distributed. Be sure people are linking to www.AmericanTrails.org as a "repository library" of information categorized by many different topics.


Data Collection: Methodology, Tools, and Standards

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is working with the Coalition for Recreational
Trails to enhance its Recreational Trails Program (RTP) project database. The purpose of the project is to collect significant data so that State administrators, partners, stakeholders, advocates, and the public can have access to relevant and timely information about trail projects that have received Federal-aid funding through the RTP.

What can FHWA do to support the effort and how can States use the data? Are there reporting features that could be useful? Could the database be helpful in planning or maintenance? What tools are needed to make the data more useful to the States? How can we share data more effectively between States?

As we learned in the breakout session about data collection, it seems as if a lot of effort is going around in various States. Some States are doing their own projects to standardize data. State advocacy organizations also interested in better data.

States are invited to think about these issues, write them down, and provide them to FHWA.

Jaime Schmidt, USDA Forest Service - Presentation

National Trail Information Coordinator for USFS

Jaime Schmidt from the National Park Service (NPS) spoke about the Interagency Trail Data Standards. She provided a background of the project and answered some commonly asked questions.

Introduction and Background (excerpt from NPS website)

Trails of all kinds, including Congressionally and Secretarially designated trails, are receiving greater recognition than ever by the public and governmental agencies as important recreational and cultural resources. The National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have worked for many years with each other and with States, local governments, and trail organizations to promote and develop trails for the benefit of the public.

There have not been universal standards for trail terminology and data attributes. However, inter-jurisdictional projects, promotion, and management all suggest the need for universal data standards. These will enable national, regional, State, and trail-level managers and the public to use mutually understood terminology for recording, retrieving, and applying spatial and tabular information. Data standards will make it easier for various computer systems to "talk" to one another, so that information can be accessed, exchanged, and used by more than one individual, agency, or group. Ease in sharing data increases the capability for enhanced and consistent mapping, inventory, monitoring, condition assessment, maintenance, costing, budgeting, information retrieval, and summary reporting for a variety of internal and external needs.

In May 2001, the Federal Interagency Council on Trails, based on a provision in the January 2001, Memorandum of Understanding for the Administration and Management of National Historic and National Scenic Trails, assembled an interagency team of trail, data, and subject-matter specialists to develop national-level interagency trail data standards. This action stemmed from a collective need to inventory, assess, and map trail locations and trail resources across multiple jurisdictions throughout the United States. Over the next three years, the team developed the Interagency Trail Data Standards (ITDS) Version 1 for trails of all kinds.

For further information:

A powerpoint presentation is available for download on the Interagency National Trail Data Standards website.

Different agencies had a lot of ownership of their own systems. Process of standardization resulted in 35 standardized attributes, e.g.:

It also includes jurisdiction data on all of the trails. Information is recorded by trail segment. It changes when you cross jurisdictional lines. This project is designed to standardize the attributes not to specify how to store or collect data.

The NPS received a grant to publish the Standards as Federal standards. Some States are interested in them as well. It's a small data set, so we all could have a commonality.

In addition to the 35 data elements that apply to all trails, there are three that apply to National Scenic Trails. There are thirteen additional attributes for National Historic Trails, which are not necessarily actual trails on the ground like "regular" trails.

It's important to integrate correct data as well as standardizing. There are standard detail drawings for trails as well as a corporate database (INFRA for the Forest Service) for buildings, roads, sites, and facilities.

There is a standard dictionary of trails data for use across several uses: drawings, planning, databases, and management. Elements that are standardized are names, drawings, and definitions. Some inventory data has been included such as, where are the trail facilities: e.g. puncheon, culverts. Each feature is identified; for example, what is the difference between a puncheon and a turnpike. Each feature is described for its condition. This ties in with the list of standardized tasks to use for maintenance, which also uses the correct standard names of both objects and activities.

For a database you need both spatial and tabular data. You also need a systematic approach to collecting the data. You don't need too much detail.

One tool the Forest Service uses to collect data is a mobile unit to automate the process of inventorying trails while walking. The tool has a harness and a wheel to do measuring rather than using GPS. The measuring instrument is used to determine mile markers for every feature along the trail. This gadget can also be mounted on an ATV.

A tablet computer enables you to do clicks on drop-down menus as you walk. It is easy to download the records to any standard database.


Thursday, October 19, 2005

Nongovernmental Organization Update

American Trails, Pam Gluck
Today's focus is on Training. American Trails is concentrating a lot of effort into making training opportunities available and more visible to the States. Better training results in better trails. State can use RTP funds to put on workshops. Recently Florida has been investing heavily in training.

Highlighted American Trails Workshops:

Building Better Trails

The objectives of this one-day workshop are to teach participants current accessibility requirements and the legal issues introduction to the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) benefits of sustainable trail design analysis and problem solving for accessibility.

Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) Workshops

UTAP provides objective, accurate information about the conditions on a trail or in outdoor environments. The assessment results can help trail users determine whether a trail meets their interests and abilities. Land managers can also use the information to identify areas where access may be limited and to determine whether a trail complies with the proposed accessibility guidelines. See: http://www.americantrails.org/nttp/UTAPnttp.html.

UTAP Train the Trainer

For individuals who have previously attended the UTAP Coordinator Workshop, the UTAP Trainer Course is 4 days in length. An extra day is required for individuals who have not previously completed the UTAP Coordinator Workshop. There are three levels of certification, which enable graduates to train others in the UTAP techniques.

The Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative (COTI), Kim Frederick)

The Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative (COTI) is an effort to improve training for trails and conservation work in Colorado. It is a cooperative partnership among Federal, State, and local agencies and other groups to develop a training and certification program. The idea is to find ways to integrate and expand volunteer and stewardship efforts to help agencies accomplish their work for resources and recreation. The challenge is to provide future leaders for volunteer projects who maintain high quality standards, are highly productive, and provide for an excellent volunteer experience that meets all safety requirements.

Some courses offered include:

Kim Frederick asked everyone to stand. He then asked for all people with 3 or less years experience with trails to sit down. Then he asked that people with 10 years or less of experience to sit; then 19 years or less. He then pointed out that about 20 people with over 20 years knowledge were still standing. How can we preserve that knowledge?

A good deal of COTI's success comes from being able to set up and maintain many good partnerships. One common thread from the partners is the desire for leadership. From this need COTI set up leadership training based on a trainer of trainer model. They have a hierarchy based on skills and experience. Content for the course is gathered extensively and it is tested and retested.

The courses are designed to be flexible using modules. One can pick and choose which modules to use in courses.
Project management process: try to bring similar knowledge together so it can be taught together.

The NTTP wants to bring COTI model to each State: bring it to your door. Trainers could come to your State and work with your needs, and can be paid for with RTP dollars.

Adventure Cycling Association (ACA), Ginny Sullivan

The Adventure Cycling Association (ACA), founded in 1974 with a current total of 42,359 members, has long been interested in a national interstate network of bike routes, including some or all of ACA's mapped routes. ACA is a member of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Task Force on US Numbered Bicycle Routes. ACA offered staff assistance for the Task Force to complete its plan.

The task force has completed its first phase of work: an inventory of State and national bike routes and trails across the U.S. It is beginning the second phase of the project: to create a draft corridor plan. This corridor plan will link existing and proposed State bicycle routes across State borders with possible extensions into Canada and Mexico. Once the corridor plan gains national recognition, ACA is committed to seeing the approved plan through to a completed route system, supported and maintained through various agencies and groups at the State and local level.

Not only will this interstate route system provide public access to bike routes, it will help create national political awareness and build allies across diverse interests. For more information see: http://www.adventurecycling.com/whoweare/projects.cfm

The National Cycle Network in Great Britain uses both roads and trail systems. The US system will mostly use roads, with some links possible on trails that can accommodate road bicycles.

Adventure Cycling's Routes and Mapping Department links together rural roads to create low-traffic routes through some of the Nation's most scenic and historically significant terrain. This route network was started in 1976 with the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. Since then, it has blossomed into an awe-inspiring network of 34,927 miles. For more information see: http://www.adventurecycling.com/routes/network.cfm.

Highlights:

Some next steps:

The ACA intends to draw a corridor plan over exiting routes to see where future vision can be realized. A system that works is an integrated system that combines roads and trails.

International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Scott Linnenburger

IMBA offers a wide range of training opportunities such as the Trail Care Crew: http://www.imba.com/tcc/index.html.

IMBA's goal is to record 10,000 volunteer days during the year 2010. Along the way, they're aiming to hit some important benchmarks: IMBA hopes to document 3,000 volunteer days in 2006, and 5,000 days during 2007. These numbers are not cumulative: they reflect the number of volunteer workdays IMBA hopes to record each year.

National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), Dana Bell
Education is one of NOHVCC's primary functions. The organization offers a wide variety of programs, many of which can be custom-designed for specific purposes and locales.

OHV enthusiasts are part of the planning team. NOHVCC is working to help the public get better organized, work together to develop their positions, and to help develop a collective voice. NOHVCC also collaborates with agencies. It worked with Forest Service on implementing the Forest Service's OHV management rule.

See the 2006 NOHVCC Workshop Schedule for information on upcoming courses: http://nohvcc.org/education/workshop.asp.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Marianne Fowler. www.railstotrails.org

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) promotes policy at the national and State levels to create the conditions that make trail building possible. RTC is a leader in the fight to protect the Federal Transportation Enhancements program, which is the single largest source of funding for trail development.

Training workshops are available and cost $3,000-$5,000, depending on the location. RTC believes that you will never get a rail-trail on the ground without political involvement. Training also covers land acquisitions, railbanking, and corridor preservation.

Railbanking (as defined by the National Trails System Act, 16 USC 1247 (d)) is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail until some railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. Because a railbanked corridor is not considered abandoned, it can be sold, leased, or donated to a trail manager without reverting to adjacent landowners.

Design issues: The nicer the facility the more enjoyable it will be.

Tread Lightly, Monica Clay. www.treadlightly.org

The Tread Trainer program is designed to train participants in innovative, practical methods of spreading outdoor ethics to the public with a curriculum specifically focused on motorized and mechanized recreation.

Once a participant becomes active in the Tread Trainer program, he or she is equipped to present the Tread Lightly! message to other educators, clubs, employees, visitors, enthusiasts, or community members.

The Tread Trainer program was recently highlighted by the National Forest Foundation as a key aid in confronting the threat of unmanaged OHV recreation to public land. Enthusiast club members, tour guides, safety trainers, and land managers from all over the country have been trained and are proclaiming the program's crucial value in today's recreation issues.

Centennial Award: The USDA Forest Service has announced Tread Lightly!® as a recipient of the Centennial Forum Outstanding Partner Organization Award in recognition of the organization's many contributions in promoting responsible use of National Forest System lands.

Send an email to mary@treadlightly.org if you want any training to come to your State.

National Center on Accessibility (NCA), Laura Weatherbee

A collaborative program of Indiana University and the National Park Service, the National Center on Accessibility promotes access for people with disabilities in recreation. Over the last decade, NCA has played a critical role in increasing awareness of inclusion of people with disabilities in parks, recreation, and tourism while advancing the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act and other disability legislation. Learn more at the National Center on Accessibility website: http://www.ncaonline.org/index.shtml


RTP Questions and Answers

Alex Weiss read a question about education funding. Is funding for accessibility training an eligible expense?
Yes, especially if it is safety related.

Paul Jahnige suggested the word "accessibility" be added to legislation where it discusses education funding.


State Trail Advisory Committee Discussion

Tim Mitchell introduced the session and welcomed Advisory Committee members.

OPEN DISCUSSION

Ken Carpenter. The Committee has put together several resolutions and set up a new legislative council.

Nancy Hanson. Minnesota is trying to extend network and get more people working together. For example they are looking to hire the U of MN tourism department for some collaborative efforts. Various user groups in Wisconsin have fees and park passes.

Pete Chamberland polled the group. How many review applications for spelling and content? What's the role of your committee? In Colorado they go down to subcommittee level and grade each project. The administrator goes through each application after being scored and talks to the applicant about what they can improve on for next try.

Debra Thorson. BLM and some Agencies have grant writers and often grants come in very polished, but the project may be of poor quality. Some clubs may have a great project but poor grammar. Overall applications are graded from multiple perspectives so failing on one set of criteria will bring your score down but most likely won't sink you.

Tom Umphress. Doesn't look at grammar really. Letters of support are very important. Look at priorities of group and look at grant applications against those criteria. Looks at how relevant it is to the State plan rather than the glossiness of application.

Dick Bratton. There is a difference between grading applications and grading projects. Both are important. You need to have a good project but good grammar is also helpful.

Peter from IOWA joins us. Question from Dick Westfall. Illinois look at the scoring process another way. They look at how to fund priorities without taking money away from other projects (making the pot smaller).

Tim Wegner. Once the trail is built, how does the group plan on maintaining trail? It is not good to place a burden on States to maintain. How will continued maintenance be funded?

Dan Kleen. He said Iowa missed Bob Walker (who had formerly worked in Iowa). How are subcommittees set up? Chair can choose up to 10 subcommittee members?

Debra Thorson. Each subcommittee takes grants from their user group. The subcommittees only review grants pertaining to them.

Michelle Vetter. Are any applications online?

Dean Zuppio - MA, joined and introduced himself. There are two representatives from each of the eight user groups: 1 primary and 1 secondary.

Dan Kleen. Question about splitting up the 40%. Iowa doesn't have linear trails that are joint use. Has anyone spent part of that % to diversify motorized or nonmotorized projects?

Cheryl Surface - Nevada. Yes, NV has voted to spend that way.

Bob Walker. Montana is having trouble getting motorized applications.

Tim Wegner. Can you use contributions for match? How do you set the value for in-kind donations?

Debra Thorson. Do you allow administrative costs to be in-kind?
Georgia, Delaware: No
California: Up to 25%
Nevada: 1 %
Montana: No limit.
Missouri: 10%

Michelle Scalise - Is there a technical review before project proposal goes to committee?
Idaho does a threshold review (screens for eligibility). Florida does a completeness review. A deficiency review to make sure committee only receives valid applications. In Nevada, the committee only gets eligible applications: they are prescreened. Line Item: the State administrator can take out items from a project that is grossly out of place. For example, most of a project might be good and eligible, but a clock tower is not eligible.

Dick from Illinois. A manual is available with application. People find it very helpful for crafting good applications and directing requests to proper funding sources.

Several States (10 of those present) don't use their advisory committees to read and rank project applications. How many States allow or don't allow line items? Two don't allow line items to be removed.

Tim Wegner. What would you like to see the program become?

Debra Thorson. Wants to know if there can be legislation to make all groups with significant impact to trails pay a user fee.

Dan Kleen. Wants to add questions on the application: How much is the match? Where is it coming from? Are there going to be fees?

Merv Hoermann. What type of surfacing material does the State like to be used on trails? Does material matter? How long does it last and how much does it cost?

Christopher Douwes. If a project is more of a transportation project, then seek alternate grants such as Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds. If it's not an RTP project, seek other funding.
RTP Administrators should communicate frequently with State DOT TE Managers. I should not hear from State TE Managers that they don't know about the RTP or who the RTP administrator is (as I have heard within the past month). To initiate contact, here's an example for you (thank you to Paul Jahnige, MA, for the example, which I made generic):

Subject: Transportation Enhancements and the Recreational Trails Program

Dear TE Manager:

I have been wondering if we might be able to sit down sometime or find a time to talk on the phone about potential overlaps or synergies between the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and the Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities. In particular, I would be interested in learning more about enhancements. I noticed in our recent review of 117 RTP proposals that there were several projects, which while not quite right for the RTP, might be appropriate for TE. It also seems like I may be able to facilitate connections between potentially good TE projects and community needs.

Thanks, RTP Administrator


Coalition for Recreational Trails Update

Derrick Crandall and Cathy Ahern of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) provided an update on behalf of the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT). They raised some questions, such as: Why are some States not spending RTP money on any given year?

Not spending RTP funds can send the wrong message and can make the RTP vulnerable to cuts. What type of message does Congress get when funding isn't used? Sometimes it's hard to spend all the funding in a given year when some projects get stalled because of particular issues, such as eminent domain limitations.

RTP funds can be better used building and maintaining projects rather than land acquisitions.

Byways 2021

ARC is working to document the substantial accomplishments of the National Scenic Byways Program since its inception, including the results of thousands of competitively-awarded grants totaling some $300,000,000; and establish a widely-supported vision for the goals and priorities of the byways program over the next 15 years called "Byways 2021". Go to the byways2021.org blog site for community discussions.

Toolbox 4 the Great Outdoors: http://tools4outdoors.us/

The purpose of the Toolbox for the Great Outdoors in 2003 was to help harness the power of new recreation tools to connect 21st century Americans to public lands and to enhance the way great experiences for visitors are delivered. The second version of the Toolbox more than doubles the identified "tools" and expands the Toolbox from four to seven "drawers," or categories, and showcases dozens of new examples of the successful use of these tools on the ground. Especially important is a new focus on resources available in the health and safety and economic development arenas.


General discussion

There is a strong need to project on how many people are benefiting from your trails.
It would be nice to gather information on:


The next STAM will be September 18-20, 2007 in the Lake Tahoe area. We will look at some examples of how trails benefit tourism and other industries. We intend to have a morning business session and then will have 3 afternoons to be outside to see trails and demonstrate equipment. We will see both CA and NV State park areas. People can go mountain biking or hiking on trails funded with RTP. Other tour opportunities will be available to historic and cultural sites.

Let Cheryl Surface [csurface@parks.nv.gov] and Jean Lacher [jlach@parks.ca.gov] know about your ideas and questions.

Updated: 10/10/2014
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000