The Rails to Trails Conservancy has several printable fact sheets on the benefits of rail-trails and how to make the case for funding. http://www.railstotrails.org/resource-library/
Partnerships are an asset. If you are a government agency, encourage the start up of a non-profit, friends of the trail organization. If you are a non-profit, develop stronger relationships with government agencies. Each have access to funding sources that the others may not.
Funding the Appraisal
Typically, it has been up to prospective trail managers to come up with the funds for appraisal. Federal grants are available for the purchase of the corridor including the environmental review / soil sampling required by CSX. The appraisal is the first step in acquiring federal funding for the purchase of the property.
Funding the Acquistion, Construction, and Amenities
WV Department of Transportation, Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)– is the largest funding source in WV for rail-trail acquisition, engineering, building and maintenance. This is an 80% federal, 20% local reimbursement grant program for non-traditional transportation related projects. Examples include railway depot restoration, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and rail trails. This and other grant programs have also become part of West Virginia’s Federal-aid transportation program since passage of the original ISTEA in 1991.
A requirement with the Transportation Alternatives Grant Program funding is that the grant sponsor must be a government agency such as a city or county municipality. Other government sponsors have been Regional Planning and Development Councils or the Division of Natural Resources. Often the sponsor does / or plans to manage the property though it is not a requirement and collaborative partnerships with non-profits are also an option.
Within the TAP Program is the Recreational Trails Program
The Recreational Trails Program is available for the construction, upgrade or maintenance of both motorized and non-motorized recreational trails. This, too, is an 80% federal, 20% local reimbursement program that may recognize “in-kind” matches for the local share.
The Recreational Trails Program is open to 501c3 organizations as well as government agencies to apply but at a smaller funding level. The Recreational Trails Program funds the purchase or lease of maintenance equipment and repairs such as resurfacing trails as well as construction and trailhead amenities.
To sign up for grant submission announcements, Contact Ken Given
Grant Unit Leader
304-558-9292 or Kenneth.T.Given@wv.gov
Other Funding Sources
Local Charitable Foundations- research your regional area for foundations that fund community development, conservation, health and wellness as well as recreation.
National Organizations– though more competitive, there are several national organizations that offer grant funding for trails and bicycle infrastructure.
- People for Bikes- http://www.peopleforbikes.org
- Rails to Trails Conservancy’s Doppelt Family Grant- http://www.railstotrails.org/our-work/doppelt-family-trail-development-fund/
- American Hiking Society- https://americanhiking.org
State Grants from WV Development Office– these can vary on availability and who can apply. http://www.wvcommerce.org/people/communityresources/infrastructure/landandwaterconservationfund/default.aspx
- Growing Healthy Communities Grants
- Land and Water Conservation Grants
- Appalachian Regional Commission Grants
- Governor’s Community Partnership Grants
City and County Budget Requisitions- Submit proposals to your city and county for funding through their general budget requests or from funds such as Hotel Occupancy Tax funding. City Council and County Commissions vary on how and when they distribute their funding to community organizations.
Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs)– Check with your local or regional CVB for funding for trail promotion such as development of trail maps, rack cards, or websites, or promoting trail fundraisers that bring in tourists. They may have grants available or be a partner for resources in promotion.