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Recreational Trails Program Guidance (1999)

Part 1

Recreational Trails Program Purpose

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) was authorized in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998. The RTP is a Federal-aid assistance program to help the States provide and maintain recreational trails for both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail use. The program provides funds for all kinds of recreational trail uses, such as pedestrian uses (hiking, running, wheelchair use), bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles. Each State develops its own procedures to solicit projects from project sponsors, and to select projects for funding, in response to recreational trail needs within the State. The RTP encourages all kinds of trail enthusiasts to work together to provide a wide variety of recreational trail opportunities.

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Recreational Trails Program Major Changes Under TEA-21

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Recreational Trails Program Guidance - Introduction and Background

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a Federal-aid assistance program to help the States provide and maintain recreational trails for both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail use. The program provides funds for all kinds of recreational trail uses, such as pedestrian uses (hiking, running, wheelchair use), bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles. Each State develops its own procedures to solicit projects from project sponsors, and to select projects for funding, in response to recreational trail needs within the State. The RTP encourages all kinds of trail enthusiasts to work together to provide a wide variety of recreational trail opportunities.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) authorized the Recreational Trails Program as a Federal-aid program, and codified it in Federal statutes under section 206 of title 23, United States Code (23 U.S.C. 206). The RTP replaced the original National Recreational Trails Funding Program (also known as the Symms Act), which was authorized by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and amended by the National Highway System (NHS) Designation Act of 1995. TEA-21 eliminated the original program from 16 U.S.C. 1261.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (USDOT/FHWA) administers the RTP in consultation with staff from the Department of the Interior (National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management) and the Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service). Federal land management agencies are eligible to apply to the States for RTP funds.

This program guidance incorporates legislative citations. Some legislative provisions or requirements do not need additional program guidance. Except as noted, citations refer to section 206 of title 23 United States Code (23 U.S.C. §206). Where used, the symbol § means section.

The previous program guidance dated May 7, 1996, and supplemental guidance dated January 15, 1997, remain in effect for funds allocated under ISTEA and the NHS Designation Act. This new guidance supersedes all previous program guidance for funds made available under TEA-21, including FY 1998 funds allocated prior to the enactment of TEA-21. However, see How to Treat Funds Allocated Prior to TEA-21 for options to administer funds obligated prior to the enactment of TEA-21.

Many trails provide both a recreational and transportation purpose. RTP funds may be used on any trail which provides recreation. Using RTP funds on a trail project does not make the trail ineligible for other Federal highway funds if the trail also provides a transportation purpose.

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Administrative and Financial Procedures

State Responsibilities

Legislation: Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (Pub. L. 105-178, June 9, 1998, as amended by Pub. L. 105-206).
SEC. 1103. APPORTIONMENTS.

  1. Recreational Trails Program. Section 104(h) of such title [title 23 U.S.C.] is amended to read as follows:
  2. Recreational Trails Program.
    1. Eligible state defined. In this section, the term eligible State means a State that meets the requirements of section 206(c).
  3. State Defined. For the purposes of apportioning funds under sections 104, 105, 144, and 206 of title 23, United States Code, the term "State" means any of the 50 States and the District of Columbia.[1]

RTP Legislation as codified in 23 U.S.C. 206:
  1. State Responsibilities. To be eligible for apportionments under this section
    1. the Governor of the State shall designate the State agency or agencies that will be responsible for administering apportionments made to the State under this section; and
    2. the State shall establish a State recreational trail advisory committee that represents both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail users, which shall meet not less often than once per fiscal year.

Section 206(c) lists the two major requirements for a State to be eligible to receive apportionments under the RTP. The State also must use its apportionment in accordance with the RTP and other applicable Federal legislation and regulations. If a State does not meet these requirements, it will lose eligibility and not receive an apportionment. If a State becomes ineligible but would like to regain eligibility, it must comply with the requirements listed under State Certification to Regain Eligibility. Certification is required only for a State which loses eligibility.

State Agency Designation

Each State Governor designated a State agency or agencies to administer the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) under the original National Recreational Trails Fund Act. FHWA recognizes the agency previously designated by the Governor unless the Governor or the Governor's designee informs the FHWA division office in writing that another agency has been designated. This letter should be forwarded to the FHWA Washington Headquarters program office. An Appendix lists the State agencies and contact information.

In most States, the Governor designated a State resource agency to administer this program, rather than the State Department of Transportation (DOT) which is usually responsible for FHWA programs. Therefore, decisions regarding the use of RTP funds must be made by the designated agency, and not by the State DOT (except in those States where the DOT administers the program).

The State agency responsible for the RTP must keep the State DOT informed and involved to coordinate this program with transportation programs for planning purposes, including incorporation into State and metropolitan transportation improvement programs, and to coordinate similar programs such as bicycle and pedestrian activities, transportation enhancement activities, and the scenic byways program. Likewise, if the State DOT administers the program, it should keep appropriate State resource agencies informed and involved.

In States where an agency other than the State DOT administers the RTP, the FHWA division office should work directly with the State's administering agency in the project approval process, and should have direct financial transactions with that State agency. There is no Federal requirement to include the DOT within the project approval or financial transaction processes, except for an agreement on obligation limitation available for the RTP and incorporation of RTP projects within State and metropolitan transportation improvement programs.

State Recreational Trail Advisory Committee

Establishment and Representation

Each State must have established a State Recreational Trail Advisory Committee that represents both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail users. FHWA will continue to recognize the advisory committee (board) established by a State under the original National Recreational Trails Fund Act as long as the committee continues to meet the RTP's legislative requirements (see below). The State may determine committee membership (including voting and nonvoting members), roles, protocols and procedures, and authorities.

The committee membership must include trail users. There must be representation of off-road motorized recreational trail users, and representation of nonmotorized recreational trail users. An advisory committee consisting only of State officials, natural resource organizations, and recreational business interests would not qualify under this program.

Committee membership should represent trail uses which take place within the State. For example, snowmobile or cross-country ski representation is irrelevant in States where snow trail use is insignificant. But, if a type of trail use is significant, the State should consider representation from that user group. For example, if there is an organized user group for a type of trail use within the State, the State should consider representation from that type of trail use.

The committee membership may include representation from any kind of recreational trail uses or multiple representation from particular trail uses. There may be representation of local, State, or Federal agencies, land use or natural resource organizations, trail advocacy organizations, recreational businesses, etc.

Advisory committee meetings should be held in accordance with State laws and policies regarding public involvement.

Duties of the Advisory Committee

The Federal legislation lists duties for the State Recreational Trail Advisory Committee:

§206(c)(2) Represent both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail users.[2]
Meet not less often than once per fiscal year.
§206(d)(3)(C) * May waive, in whole or in part, the requirements that the State use 30 percent of its RTP funds for motorized recreation and 30 percent for nonmotorized recreation, if the committee determines and notifies the Secretary [of Transportation] that the State does not have sufficient projects to meet these requirements.[3]
§206(d)(4) A State may use funds apportioned to the State to carry out this section to make grants to private organizations, municipal, county, State, and Federal government entities, and other government entities as approved by the State after considering guidance from the State recreational trail advisory committee established under subsection (c)(2), for uses consistent with this section [206].

* [This provision (§206(d)(3)(C)) was rescinded in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) effective August 10, 2005.]

Under §206(d)(4), appropriate guidance would include:

States may assign other duties to their advisory committees, such as:

Although the RTP legislation does not require a State to use its advisory committee to approve projects for funding, the legislation requires the State to receive guidance from the committee on how it solicits and selects trail projects for funding. This guidance would include procedures for on-the-ground trail projects and for trail education projects.

State Certification to Regain Eligibility

The following certification procedures only apply to States that lose eligibility to receive apportionments under the Recreational Trails Program (RTP).

The RTP has two major requirements for States to be eligible to receive an apportionment:

§206(c)(1) the Governor of the State shall designate the State agency or agencies that will be responsible for administering apportionments made to the State under this section; and
§206(c)(2) the State shall establish a State recreational trail advisory committee that represents both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail users, which shall meet not less often than once per fiscal year.

FHWA cannot make apportionments to ineligible States. If a State is ineligible at the time apportionments are made, an apportionment will not be made to that State, and the funds will be distributed to the eligible States. If a State is ineligible to receive an apportionment in one fiscal year, it may become eligible to receive an apportionment in the next fiscal year if it certifies to FHWA that it meets the legislative requirements before the start of the next fiscal year, and FHWA finds that the State meets the requirements. FHWA established this procedure to ensure that funds go to those States which are eligible consistent with the legislation.

To regain eligibility under the RTP, a State must certify in writing to the FHWA division office that it meets certain requirements of the program as outlined below. The FHWA division office should forward the certification letter to the FHWA Headquarters program office. The deadline for a State's certification letter to be received by FHWA Headquarters to receive an apportionment in the following fiscal year is July 1 of the prior fiscal year.

The certification letter must include the following:

The State agency responsible for the RTP should provide a copy of this letter to the State DOT and other appropriate State agencies. If the State DOT manages the RTP, it should provide a copy to the State resource agency and other appropriate State agencies.

If the FHWA division finds that the State has become eligible for an apportionment, it will inform the FHWA Headquarters program office, and the State will receive an apportionment in the next fiscal year.

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Funding Apportionments

Legislation from TEA-21:

USDOT Administrative Costs

Apportionment to the States

Apportionments and notification to the States are made on October 1 of each fiscal year (23 U.S.C. 104(e);118(a)). If a State does not receive notification of its apportionment on October 1, it should contact its FHWA division office. Apportioned funds are available for obligation on the effective date of apportionment.

Calculation of Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use

Part of the apportionment to each State is based on an estimate of nonhighway recreational fuel use within each State.

Only a few States collect data on non-highway recreational fuel use, and they use various methods to collect their data. FHWA contracted with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to estimate the amount of nonhighway recreational fuel use in 1992. ORNL provided a report to FHWA in July 1994. However, some States raised concerns about the results of the study.

In September 1998, FHWA reopened the contract with ORNL to review the original model and consider corrections and other factors which influence nonhighway recreational fuel use. This report was completed July 1999. The results will be incorporated into future year apportionments.

This report is available on the World Wide Web at: The Center for Transportation Analysis (CTA).

Obligation Limitation

The Recreational Trails Program is subject to the same annual obligation limitation as the Federal-aid highway program. The Congress determines the annual obligation limitation through authorization legislation (as in TEA-21 §1102(a)) or through annual appropriations acts.

As specified in law, the FHWA allocates obligation limitation to each State Department of Transportation as one sum. This means the State agency responsible for the RTP must negotiate with the State DOT to provide obligation authority for the RTP.

There are several options that the State DOTs may offer the State resource agencies:

Obligation and Spending Deadlines

Under 23 U.S.C. 118(b)(2), apportioned funds are available for obligation for four fiscal years: the current fiscal year plus 3 years. For example, the deadline to obligate funds apportioned in FY 1998 is September 30, 2001. The funds are treated in a first in, first out manner; older year funds are considered obligated before newer year funds. The unobligated balance of funds will be withdrawn if the unobligated balance exceeds the sum of the apportionments issued for the current fiscal year and the three prior fiscal years. For example, on October 1, 2002, no funds will lapse as long as the unobligated balance is less than the sum of apportionments for FY 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002; any unobligated balance in excess of that sum will lapse.

Under TEA-21, RTP funds are apportioned to the States. Unobligated apportioned funds do not need to be returned as did unobligated allocated funds prior to TEA-21. Apportioned funds are carried over by the States.

The deadline to expend funds and to receive payment of funds is September 30th of the fifth fiscal year after the period of availability for obligation (31 U.S.C. 1552). [5] For example, the deadline for the State to receive payment of funds apportioned in FY 1998 is September 30, 2006.

A State may establish a shorter deadline for a project sponsor to expend funds after obligation. If a project does not go forward within a reasonable amount of time, the State should deobligate the project, and reobligate the funds for a project which is ready to move forward.

Uniform Transferability

Legislation from TEA-21:

"110. Uniform transferability of Federal-aid highway funds".

This section allows States to transfer up to 50 percent of the apportionments in Federal-aid highway program funding categories to other Federal-aid highway program categories, with limitations on transfers from the Surface Transportation Program Safety Program, the Transportation Enhancement Activities, and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. This provision could affect the RTP, either with transfers out, or transfers in. However, in most States, the RTP is administered by an agency other than the State DOT; therefore a DOT may not unilaterally transfer the funds to other highway programs, unless it is the sole State agency responsible for administration of the program. A transfer of funds into or out of the RTP would require concurrence of the other State agency and/or the Governor.

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State Suballocations

Diverse, Motorized, and Nonmotorized Minimum Requirements

Requirement

The RTP legislation requires that States use 40 percent of their funds apportioned in a fiscal year for diverse recreational trail use, 30 percent for motorized recreation, and 30 percent for nonmotorized recreation. The 40-30-30 requirement applies to the on-the-ground trail projects and to the educational projects, but does not apply to the State administrative costs.[6] The 40-30-30 requirement only applies to Federal funds apportioned through the RTP, not to funds from other sources.

The 40-30-30 requirement affects each State's annual apportionment. A State does not need to meet the 40-30-30 minimums in each fiscal year's obligations, if some funds remain unobligated.[7]

Overlap / Category Definitions

The diverse, motorized, and nonmotorized percentages in §206(d)(3)(A) are minimum requirements which must be met, and may be exceeded. States should not select projects in three mutually exclusive categories. A project for diverse motorized use (such as snowmobile and off-road motorcycle use) may satisfy the 40 percent diverse use requirement and the 30 percent motorized use requirement simultaneously. A project for diverse nonmotorized use (such as pedestrian and bicycle use) may satisfy the 40 percent diverse use requirement and the 30 percent nonmotorized use requirement simultaneously. States should consider diverse motorized use projects, diverse nonmotorized use projects, and projects which benefit both motorized and nonmotorized use simultaneously.

To provide more flexibility in project selection, FHWA established five categories to account for the 40-30-30 requirements:

  1. Nonmotorized project for a single use: A project primarily intended to benefit only one mode of nonmotorized recreational trail use, such as pedestrian only, or equestrian only. Projects serving various pedestrian uses (such as walking, hiking, wheelchair use, running, bird-watching, nature interpretation, backpacking, etc.) constitute a single use for the purposes of this category. Note: wheelchair use by mobility-impaired people, whether operated manually or powered, constitutes pedestrian use, not motorized trail use. Projects serving various nonmotorized human-powered snow uses (such as skiing, snowshoeing, etc.) constitute a single use for this category.

  2. Nonmotorized diverse use project: A project primarily intended to benefit more than one mode of nonmotorized recreational trail use such as: walking, bicycling, and skating; both pedestrian and equestrian use; or pedestrian use in summer and cross-country ski use in winter.

  3. Diverse use project including both motorized and nonmotorized uses: A project intended to benefit both nonmotorized recreational trail use and motorized recreational trail use. This category includes projects where motorized use is permitted, but is not the predominant beneficiary. This category includes projects where motorized and nonmotorized uses are separated by season, such as equestrian use in summer and snowmobile use in winter. Other examples: a common trailhead project serving separate ATV and bicycle trails; purchasing a machine to groom both snowmobile and cross-country ski trails.

  4. Motorized single use project: A project primarily intended to benefit only one mode of motorized recreational use, such as snowmobile trail grooming. A project may be classified in this category if the project also benefits some nonmotorized uses (it is not necessary to exclude nonmotorized uses), but the primary intent must be for the benefit of motorized use.

  5. Motorized diverse use project: A project primarily intended to benefit more than one mode of motorized recreational use, such as: motorcycle and ATV use; or ATV use in summer and snowmobile use in winter. A project may be classified in this category if the project also benefits some nonmotorized uses (it is not necessary to exclude nonmotorized uses), but the primary intent must be for the benefit of motorized use.

Projects in categories 1 and 2 count toward the 30 percent nonmotorized use requirement.
Projects in categories 2, 3, and 5 count toward the 40 percent diverse trail use requirement.
Projects in categories 4 and 5 count toward the 30 percent motorized use requirement.

States can meet the 40-30-30 requirements easily by selecting projects which qualify under both the motorized and diverse categories, or the nonmotorized and diverse categories, simultaneously.[8]

Maintenance and Official Use

Use of motorized vehicles for official purposes only (emergency, enforcement, maintenance) may be permitted on otherwise nonmotorized trails at the discretion of the appropriate Federal, State, or local officials or land managers. Use of motorized vehicles on a trail for official purposes only on an otherwise nonmotorized trail does not constitute diverse recreational trail use for motorized and nonmotorized trail users. For example, a trail open only for cross-country ski or snowshoe use is still an exclusively nonmotorized trail even if it is maintained with a motorized grooming machine.

Waivers

Small State Exclusion

This provision exempts Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Rhode Island from the requirements that they use 30 percent of their funds for motorized use and 30 percent of their funds for nonmotorized use. It does not exempt these States from the 40 percent diverse trail use requirement or from the requirement for both motorized and nonmotorized representation on the State Recreational Trail Advisory Committees.

Advisory Committee Waiver Authority

The Advisory Committee Waiver Authority was rescinded in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) effective August 10, 2005.

No State may waive the 40 percent diverse trail use requirement. Past experience indicates that States can meet this requirement with no difficulty.

State Administrative Costs

The Diverse, Motorized, and Nonmotorized requirements do not apply to State administrative costs. See State Administrative Costs.

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Federal Share and Matching Share

The content on this page is the original Guidance issued in 1999, and does not incorporate changes authorized under SAFETEA-LU or MAP-21.

Updates to this section are available at:
www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/guidance/matchingfunds.cfm.

The following section applies only to RTP funds apportioned under TEA-21. For funds allocated in FY 1993, 1996, and 1997, use the Program Guidance from May 7, 1996, and the supplemental program guidance of January 15, 1997.

  • RTP Legislation: 23 U.S.C. 206:
    (f) Federal Share.
    1. In general. Subject to the other provisions of this subsection, the Federal share of the cost of a project under this section shall not exceed 80 percent.
    2. Federal agency project sponsor. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a Federal agency that sponsors a project under this section may contribute additional Federal funds toward the cost of a project, except that
      1. the share attributable to the Secretary of Transportation may not exceed 80 percent of the cost of a project under this section; and
      2. the share attributable to the Secretary and the Federal agency may not exceed 95 percent of the cost of a project under this section.
    3. Use of funds from federal programs to provide non-federal share. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the non-Federal share of the cost of the project may include amounts made available by the Federal Government under any Federal program that are
      1. expended in accordance with the requirements of the Federal program relating to activities funded and populations served; and
      2. expended on a project that is eligible for assistance under this section.
    4. Programmatic non-federal share. A State may allow adjustments to the non-Federal share of an individual project for a fiscal year under this section if the Federal share of the cost of all projects carried out by the State under the program (excluding projects funded under paragraph (2) or (3)) using funds apportioned to the State for the fiscal year does not exceed 80 percent.
    5. State administrative costs.The Federal share of the administrative costs of a State under this subsection shall be determined in accordance with section 120(b).[9]

General Federal/Matching Share

The Federal share under the Recreational Trails Program is a maximum. States may require a larger matching share, and States or project sponsors may provide a greater non-Federal share resulting in a lower Federal share.

  1. Federal Share under the RTP: The Federal share through the RTP for trail projects and trail-related educational programs is limited to 80 percent. The sliding scale provision of 23 U.S.C. 120(b) does not apply to RTP projects; it only applies to the State administrative costs.

  2. Federal Agency Project Sponsor: A Federal agency project sponsor may provide its own funds toward RTP projects as additional Federal share up to 95 percent of the project cost. The limitation is intended to ensure commitment to the project from State, local, or private co-sponsors.

    Under this provision, a Federal agency project sponsor may provide any amount of funds, provided the total Federal share does not exceed 95 percent.[10]

  3. Funds from Federal Programs: RTP funds may be matched with funds available under other Federal funding programs, if the project also is eligible for funding under the other Federal program. Federal funds received by any project sponsor from another Federal program may be credited as if they were the non-Federal share, and may be used to match RTP project funds up to 100 percent of the project cost. However:
    • Funds from Federal agency project sponsors must be credited as additional Federal share (paragraph 2 above), not as part of the non-Federal share.
    • Other Federal program funds may require a non-Federal share. For example, a $10,000 RTP project may use $8,000 in RTP funds and be matched by $2,000 in Federal Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds, but the TE funds are limited to an 80 percent Federal share, or $1,600. The sponsor would have to provide a $400 match from non-Federal sources.
    • Although other Federal program funds may be used to match RTP funds, this does not mean that RTP funds may be used to match other Federal program funds. For example, although Federal Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds may be used to match RTP funds, RTP funds may not be used to match TE funds.

    Examples of other Federal programs which may be used to match RTP funds include:
    • State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972 (Pub. L. 92-512).
    • HUD Community Development Block Grants (42 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.).
    • Public Works Employment Act of 1976 (42 U.S.C. 6701 et seq.).
    • Delaware and Lehigh Navigation Canal National Heritage Corridor Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-692; 16 U.S.C. 461).[11]
    • Job Training Partnership Act of 1982 (29 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).
    • National and Community Service State Grant Program (42 U.S.C. 12501 et seq.).
    • Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-193; 42 U.S.C. 401 et seq.).
    • Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (16 U.S.C. 460 l-8).
    • Federal-aid highway program funds, such as the Federal Lands Highway Program, National Scenic Byways Program, and Transportation Enhancement Activities (23 U.S.C. 101 et seq.).
    • 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.

    Federal program funds for youth conservation or service corps provide an opportunity to use qualified youth conservation or service corps for construction and maintenance of recreational trails under the RTP.

    Indian tribal funds may be used as non-Federal match for the purposes of this program regardless of the source of the funds. This may include Federal lands highway funds.

  4. Programmatic Non-Federal Share: The programmatic non-Federal share provides States with more flexibility to select projects. For example, Sponsor A and Sponsor B may each propose $10,000 projects. Sponsor A may offer to provide $2,500 (25 percent) of the project cost while Sponsor B may have only $1,500 (15 percent) available. The State, at its option, may determine that the excess match from Sponsor A may account for the insufficient match from Sponsor B, and fund both projects as if both met the 20 percent match requirement.

    Projects using either the Federal Agency Project Sponsor provision, or the Funds from Federal Programs provision, or both, may not be included in a State's calculation of the programmatic non-Federal share.

  5. State Administrative Costs: State administrative costs under the RTP require a State match. The State match may use the sliding scale provisions of 23 U.S.C. 120(b), which provides for a higher Federal share in States with larger shares of Federal lands.

Non-Federal Matching Share

The non-Federal matching share is a minimum requirement.[12] Any project sponsor may provide a larger non-Federal share. [13] A State may choose to require a larger non-Federal matching share from project sponsors.

States may choose to provide the non-Federal share of projects from State funds, such as providing matching funds for motorized projects from a State motorized trail fund, or providing matching funds from another State trail program fund.

Each State should work with its State Recreational Trail Advisory Committee to establish policies for providing matching shares.

The content on this page is the original Guidance issued in 1999, and does not incorporate changes authorized under SAFETEA-LU.

Updates to this section are available at:
www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/guidance/matchingfunds.cfm.

Donations of Funds, Materials, Services, or New Right-of-Way

  • RTP Legislation: 23 U.S.C. 206: [14]
    (h) Project Administration.
    1. Credit for donations of funds, materials, services, or new right-of-way.
      1. In general.Nothing in this title or other law shall prevent a project sponsor from offering to donate funds, materials, services, or a new right-of-way for the purposes of a project eligible for assistance under this section. Any funds, or the fair market value of any materials, services, or new right-of-way, may be donated by any project sponsor and shall be credited to the non-Federal share in accordance with subsection (f).
      2. Federal project sponsors.Any funds or the fair market value of any materials or services may be provided by a Federal project sponsor and shall be credited to the Federal agency's share in accordance with subsection (f).

This section provides that any project sponsor (except for Federal agencies), whether a private individual or organization, or a public agency, 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.

Federal project sponsors may provide funds, materials, or services as part of the Federal share, but may not provide new right-of-way.

New right-of-way means the value of land lawfully acquired for the purpose of the recreational trail project. It does not include the value of land already under owned or managed by an agency or organization. For example:

  • If a town government (land trust, State park, etc.) lawfully purchases new land for the purpose of constructing a trail or trail facility or to protect a trail corridor, the value of the purchase may be credited to the non-Federal share.

However:

  • The town (land trust, State park, etc.) may not use the value of land within a previously established town park (land trust, State park, etc.) as credit to the non-Federal share.
  • The town may not use the value of land transferred from the control of one town agency to another as credit to the non-Federal share (such as a transfer from a town development authority to a town park authority); a transfer of control from one municipal authority to another does not constitute purchase of new right-of-way.

See also: FHWA Order 6640.1A: FHWA Policy on Permissible Project Related Activities During the NEPA Process. This Order clarifies the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) policy regarding the permissible project-related activities that may be advanced prior to the conclusion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. [Added October 8, 2010]

How to Treat Funds Allocated Prior to TEA-21

Several States still have unobligated funds remaining from funds allocated in FY 1993, 1996, or 1997, prior to TEA-21.

However, funds allocated under the National Recreational Trails Funding Program in FY 1993, 1996, and 1997 still use program codes 384, 38B, and 38C. The Federal share is still 50 percent (except 38B is 100 percent). The 50 percent matching share also applies to old FY 1993 funds which originally were 100 percent (since they are 384/38B/38C funds).

If a State has funds left over from FY 93/96/97 projects, it may deobligate the leftover funds and reobligate the remaining funds for other projects. However, the Federal share remains at 50 percent.

States should try to obligate and spend all remaining 384/38B/38C funds and close those accounts.

Under TEA-21, all FY 1998 RTP funds were converted to apportioned Q94 funds, but the obligation date determined the Federal share. The new legal requirements (including allowing Federal agency sponsors to provide additional Federal share, allowing Federal program match, and programmatic match) are in effect for all FY 1998-2003 funds obligated after June 9, 1998.

For FY 1998 funds allocated under the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 1997, that were obligated prior to signing TEA-21 on June 9, 1998:

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Project Administration

The State agency responsible for administering the Recreational Trails Program will develop its own procedures and criteria for selecting projects. The State agency may solicit and receive applications from subgrantees, as defined in §206(d)(4), and review, rank, and select projects. The State must submit an annual program with a list of selected projects to the FHWA division office for authorization after the funds have been apportioned and obligation authority has been provided.

The program must include an estimated cost of program administration and a list of selected projects. At a minimum, the State must provide sufficient information about each project selected to allow FHWA to enter each trail project into the Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS).

Some States may wish to include all selected projects in their annual program as one Federal project for the purpose of authorization and reporting in FMIS, although sufficient detail information still is needed for individual trail projects. Other States may wish to submit groups of similar projects or individual projects for Federal authorization. The FHWA division may authorize the program and authorize the State to proceed with the selected projects. (See the FHWA approval process). If necessary, FHWA may provide partial authorizations. FHWA form 1240 may be used for project authorization. Funds will be obligated when the trails project is authorized. The authorization shall be deemed a contractual obligation of the Federal Government to reimburse the State for allowable project costs incurred. Projects may be modified by request of the State agency and authorization of the FHWA division. The FHWA division and the State may agree on procedures whereby minor modifications do not require FHWA authorization.

NOTE: Please refer to 23 CFR Part 630 for updated Project Agreements procedures.

All recipients and subrecipients of funds through the RTP must comply with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders. States will document compliance for all projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended, and other applicable laws (such as laws regarding threatened and endangered species, hazardous wastes and contaminated properties, historic and archaeological resources, etc.). Monitoring and reporting for RTP grants shall be in accordance with USDOT grant regulations found in 49 CFR 18.40.

Once funds have been obligated, States should ensure that project sponsors proceed with project implementation and expend the funds within a reasonable time frame. The deadline to expend funds and to receive payment of funds is September 30th of the fifth fiscal year after the period of availability for obligation (31 U.S.C. 1552, see Obligation Limitation). For example, the deadline for payment of funds apportioned in FY 1998 is September 30, 2006.

A State may establish a shorter deadline for a project sponsor to expend funds after obligation. Good cash management procedures generally result in minimal time between obligation and proceeding with the project. If a project sponsor is unable to proceed with an authorized project within a reasonable amount of time, the State should deobligate those funds and submit another eligible project for authorization which is ready to move forward.

Grant Management

The FHWA has determined that the Recreational Trails Program apportionments to States will be awarded and administered in accordance with the provisions in 49 CFR part 18, the USDOT's regulation that implements the government-wide Common Rule for grants and cooperative agreements to State and local governments. The highway regulations in 23 CFR are not appropriate for the RTP because:

States are to follow State law and procedures when awarding and administering RTP subgrants to local and Indian tribal governments in accordance with 49 CFR 18.37. Subawards by a State to institutions of higher education, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations are to be awarded and administered by the State in accordance with 49 CFR part 19, the USDOT's regulation that implements the government-wide common rule for grants and cooperative agreements to institutions of higher education, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations. The USDOT regulations are available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/legsregs/index.cfm.

Eligible Subgrantees

The RTP is intended to be a program through which States provide grants to trail project sponsors through an open competition process based on the merit of project proposals.

States may make subgrants and direct payments to any project sponsor, whether a public agency or a private organization. (See Who May Sponsor a Project.) However, States may have more restrictive qualifications:

OMB Circulars

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establishes the regulations which must be used to administer Federal grants. The USDOT's regulation in 49 CFR 18.22 refers to applicable OMB circulars to determine allowable costs. All OMB circulars are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_default/.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number for the RTP is 20.219. See www.cfda.gov.

Allowable Costs

Note: Revised April 28, 2011, to replace references to OMB Circulars that have been codified in Chapter 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (2 CFR).

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establishes the regulations which must be used to administer Federal grants. The USDOT's regulation in 49 CFR 18.22 refers to applicable OMB circulars to determine allowable costs. The OMB circulars have been codified in Title 2 Grants and Agreements.

For the costs of a Use the principles in
State, Local or Indian Tribal Governments 2 CFR 225
Private, nonprofit organization other than an (1) institution of higher education, (2) hospital, or (3) organization named in 2 CFR 230 as not subject to that circular. 2 CFR 230
Educational institutions. 2 CFR 220
For-profit organization other than a hospital and an organization named in 2 CFR 230 as not subject to that circular. 48 CFR Part 31. Contract Cost Principles and Procedures, or uniform cost accounting standards that comply with cost principles acceptable to the Federal agency.

Audit requirements for grants and subgrants are found in 49 CFR 18.26 and 49 CFR 19.26, which refer to OMB Circular A-133: Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.

In general, costs are allowable, as specified in the appropriate cost principles, if the costs are necessary, reasonable, and benefit this grant program. Examples of unallowable costs are those for purposes not related to this program.

2 CFR 225 has the Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments.

See also FHWA's Policy on Indirect Costs.

NOTE: The USDOT regulation at 49 CFR 18.22 refers to OMB Circulars for cost principles. These circulars have been codified in 2 CFR.

Audit Requirements

Audit requirements for RTP grants and subgrants are found in 49 CFR 18.26, which refers to OMB Circular A-133: Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.

Public Employee Costs

To verify allowable costs for State and local government employees, see OMB Circular A-87, Attachment B, item 11. Public labor is not volunteer or a donation. If a public employee is paid for time on a project, then the labor would be counted as part of the project cost (provided the labor is an appropriate allowable cost under OMB Circular A-87). It is not an in-kind donation since money is paid to the employee. [16] However, the dollar value of the employee's time may be counted toward the project sponsor's matching funds. For Federal agency sponsors, the value of a Federal employee's time may be counted toward the Federal agency's share.

Value of Private Donations

To verify how to value donated services by private people to a governmental unit, see OMB Circular A-87, Attachment B, item 11(i). To verify how to value donated services by private people to a private project sponsor, see OMB Circular A-122, Attachment B, item 12.

Payment

Several methods of payment are permissible under 49 CFR 18.21. Section 18.21(b) specifies that, Methods and procedures for payment shall minimize the time elapsing between the transfer of funds and disbursement by the grantee or subgrantee. . . Because most trail projects will consist of some form of construction, and may have substantial delay between project obligation and actual disbursement, the preferred method of payment for the RTP will be reimbursement as provided in §18.21(d). However, since many of the project sponsors may not have sufficient working capital, the FHWA, at a State's request, may authorize working capital advances as provided in §18.21(e). There also may be situations where full advances may be authorized as provided in §18.21(c).

Reimbursement to the State will be for the Federal share of allowable costs incurred on project-related activities. Applicable cost principles are listed in 49 CFR 18.22. After FHWA authorizes the State's project(s) and the funds have been obligated, the State agency may submit reimbursement vouchers to FHWA as costs are incurred for portions of project work completed under the RTP. States should bill for reimbursement using the PR-20 Current Billing System. Construction engineering costs (including allowable costs for environmental evaluation and documentation, permits, or approvals) may be reimbursed. However, reimbursement will not be permitted for costs incurred prior to the date of program authorization by FHWA.

Advances and Working Capital Advances

Advances and Working Capital Advances are permitted under the RTP on a case-by-case basis when the reimbursement method would be too burdensome on a project sponsor.

Under the Cash Management Improvement Act (31 U.S.C. 205), an advance made to a State before the State actually disburses the funds requires the State to pay interest on the advanced funds. This process is governed by an agreement between the State and the U.S. Treasury. However, a State may advance funds to a non-State project sponsor, then submit a voucher to FHWA for reimbursement, and not incur interest payments.

The Working Capital Advance method may be used if a project sponsor needs sufficient working capital to initiate a project. For example, a project sponsor may need initial funds to purchase materials. The State may advance a portion of the funds to the project sponsor. The sponsor must submit vouchers to the State for payment as the project progresses.

The full Advance method may be used if a project sponsor needs the full advance to complete the project. For example, a project may consist of purchasing trail construction or maintenance equipment (such as a snow trail grooming machine). The State may provide the full advance to the project sponsor. Then the project sponsor will be able to purchase the equipment. After the State provides the advance to the project sponsor, the State may submit a voucher to FHWA for reimbursement.

Matching Share Provisions

See RTP Federal Share and Matching Requirements Updated December 21, 2005.

User Fees

Nothing in the RTP legislation prohibits project sponsors from charging fees for use. States and project sponsors may negotiate appropriate fees that a project sponsor may charge for use within a recreation area. 49 CFR 18.25 states:

States and project sponsors should consider:

Real Property and Equipment

Management of real property is regulated under 49 CFR 18.31 and 49 CFR 19.32, and management of equipment is regulated under 49 CFR 18.32 and 49 CFR 19.34.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publishes a Schedule of Equipment Rates for many types of equipment. States may consider these costs to be reasonable costs. [Paragraph added January 6, 2010.]

Section 1303 of TEA-21 modified 23 U.S.C. 156 regarding proceeds from the sale or lease of real property: A State shall charge, at a minimum, fair market value for the sale, use, lease, or lease renewal... of real property acquired... If a State purchases property with RTP funds and sells or leases the property to a private organization, it must charge fair market value. Likewise, if a private organization purchases property with RTP funds and then sells or leases the property to a unit of government or another private party, it must charge fair market value. The basis for selling or leasing the property should be determined and specified in the project agreement.

Disposition of real property is regulated under 49 CFR 18.31(c) and 49 CFR 19.32(c). States should ensure that each project agreement establishes a minimum timeframe for property to remain open for public access for the use for which the funds were intended. See Minimum Timeframe for Public Use.

Disposition of equipment is regulated under 49 CFR 18.32(e) and 49 CFR 19.34. States should ensure that each project agreement for equipment purchase or lease establishes sufficient controls for the equipment to be used for the purpose for which it was intended.

Procurement

See FHWA's Guidance: Procurement of Federal-aid Construction Projects (June 26, 2008).

Procurement is regulated under 49 CFR 18.36(a): States. When procuring property and services under a grant, a State will follow the same policies and procedures it uses for procurements from its non-Federal funds. The State will ensure that every purchase order or other contract includes any clauses required by Federal statutes and executive orders and their implementing regulations.

Local government subgrantees of States will follow procurement procedures specified by the State. The provisions of 49 CFR 18.36(b) through (i) are not applicable to States or subgrantees of States. The requirement of 49 CFR 18.36(j) regarding competitive bids does not apply to RTP projects because they are not highway construction. States will follow 49 CFR 18.37, which governs subgrants by a State to local and Indian tribal governments. Subgrantees of States that are institutions of higher education, hospitals, or nonprofit organizations are to follow the procurement procedures in 49 CFR 19.40 et seq.

Compliance

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Projects Completed Under Budget

If a project sponsor completes a project under budget, the remaining unspent funds must be deobligated. The deobligated funds may be reobligated for another RTP project, provided the State continues to meet the 40-30-30 requirements. If several projects are completed under budget, the remaining funds may be combined and reobligated for other eligible RTP projects, provided the State continues to meet the 40-30-30 requirements.

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Minimum and Maximum Grant Amounts

The RTP legislation does not establish minimum or maximum grant amounts. A State may establish its own minimum or maximum grant amounts.

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Grant Management Questions and Answers

Q: A question has arisen first whether mileage to the project site is reimbursable for volunteers donating their time. This has led to a larger question whether donated or volunteer services are reimbursable for other than the non-Federal match.

A: The legislation states that the value of donated funds, materials, and services may be used as part of the match. If there is reimbursement, there is no donation. OMB Circular A-87 Attachment (B)(11)(i)(1) prohibits reimbursement for donated services. This would apply to mileage incurred by a volunteer traveling from home or office to a project site, or mileage incurred by a volunteer traveling between individual sites which are part of an overall project. Once there is reimbursement, there is no donation; it becomes a project cost. The value of mileage may be counted toward the donation. However, this must be included in the project work plan, and there must be sufficient record-keeping.

Q: If the State makes a grant to another State agency, may the State deduct a percentage share for State administrative overhead?

A: A State making a grant to another State agency (such as to a State university) may not deduct a percentage share for general State administration unrelated to the administration of the RTP.

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FHWA Approval (Revised May 2, 2014, to remove obsolete waiver and program code information.]

The FHWA division office may approve a State's projects for a fiscal year only if:

Upon FHWA approval of the RTP projects, the State may advance the RTP projects for implementation, subject to subsequent incorporation into the STIP.[18] Costs incurred prior to FHWA approval are not eligible for reimbursement.

In States where an agency other than the State DOT administers the RTP, the FHWA division office will have a direct approval relationship with that State agency. There is no requirement to include the State DOT within the project approval process, except for submittal of the list of projects for incorporation within the STIP and applicable TIPs, and for coordination purposes.

FHWA division offices should forward a list of approved projects to the FHWA Headquarters program office for information purposes. This information should include each project location, including the Congressional district(s), project amount, and trail uses.

Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS) Coding

The following program codes have been assigned for the Recreational Trails Program in FHWA's Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS):

For further details, see the Memorandum from the Office of Fiscal Services.

FHWA enters initial apportionments into FMIS under Program Code Q94. However, there is no need to transfer funds among codes. Obligations under QR1 and QR2 automatically draw down from Q94, and are capped at their maximum amounts (7 percent and 5 percent, respectively).

FMIS Work Type Codes

The Work Type Codes in FMIS allow States to account for the overlap between the diverse recreational trail use, motorized use, and nonmotorized use categories. The codes below are the only work type codes which may be used for the Recreational Trails Program. Each trail project must be coded with the correct Work Type Code. Coding accuracy is necessary to monitor the program.

Code Type of Project

For projects using Program Codes Q94 (project funds) or QR2 (educational funds):

* These codes are exclusive to the Recreational Trails Program.

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DOT Trisk Symbol
Memorandum

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Subject: Recreational Trails Program Guidance (1999)

From:
Chief, Finance Division
Attn. of: HFS-22

To:
Associate Administrators
Staff Office Directors
Director, ITS Joint Program Office
Federal Lands Highway Program Administrator
Regional Administrators
Division Administrators

Date: October 1, 1998

Reply to: HEPH-30


This memorandum supersedes my September 30,1998 memorandum on this subject. The program descriptions are amended and Program Code R94's use has been clarified.

The following FHWA Program Codes have been assigned to identify and account for funds for the Recreational Trails Program in Section 1112 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (P.L. 105-178). The funds are available for Fiscal Year plus 3. The following Program Codes are assigned to identify and account for these allocations:

Program Code Treasury Symbol Description DAFIS Accounting Classification String
QR1 69X8083 HTF Recreational Trails Program
State Administrative Expenses, (up to 7%),
(FMIS Only) Sec. 1112(c), P.L. 105-178.
Available FY + 3 Years.
XR94-050-60-0-QR1050
QR2 69X8083 HTF Recreational Trails Program
Environmental Protection and Safety Education
(FMIS Only) Limited Amount - up to 5%.
Sec. 1112(e), P.L. 105-178.
Available FY + 3 Years.
XR94-050-60-0-QR2050
Q94 69X8083 HTF Recreational Trails Program
Sec. 1112, Subject to Limitation,
P.L. 105-178.
Available FY + 3 Years.
XR94-050-60-0-Q94050

Obligations for Program Codes QR1, QR2, and Q94 shall be entered through the Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS).

Program Treasury DAFIS Accounting

Program Code Treasury Symbol Description DAFIS Accounting Classification String
R94 69X8083 HTF Recreational Trails Program
1-1/2% Administrative Takedown.
Sec. 1103(f), P.L. 105-178.
Available FY + 3 Years.
XR94-010-60-0-R94010

Obligations for Program Code R94 shall be entered through the Departmental Accounting and Information System (DAFIS). This is an administrative takedown code that is only for FHWA headquarters use.

The Accounting Policy and Procedures Handbook, FHWA Order H 2700.2 will be revised to include the new codes. Questions regarding these codes may be directed to Denise Rafati at 202-366-2867.

/s/ original signed by
A. Thomas Park

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Updated: 05/06/2014
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