COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is still accepting applications through April 1 for the Clean Ohio Trails Fund (COTF) and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The application deadline for both grants has traditionally been Feb. 1. However, in an effort to encourage more communities to pursue this opportunity, the 2016 application deadline for both trail grants has been changed to April 1.
“This extension of the application deadline is a rare opportunity that will allow communities to further develop their local and regional trail projects expanding recreational trails to new neighborhoods,” said ODNR Office of Real Estate Chief Paul R. Baldridge. “We want to encourage more communities to take advantage of this extension to help improve outdoor recreational access for their residents.”
The COTF and RTP are reimbursement grant programs that help fund recreational trails throughout the state. After this year, ODNR intends to return to the traditional Feb. 1 application deadline for these two trail grant programs.
Studies show recreational trails are extremely popular with Ohioans and offer a great way to exercise, enjoy fresh air, and experience Ohio’s flora and fauna. In an effort to further facilitate trail development in Ohio, ODNR will be offering a higher grant award level through the COTF in 2016. Traditionally, the maximum funding amount through this program has been $500,000. In 2016, COTF applicants may apply for up to $850,000 in project funding. This will likely be a onetime opportunity because the maximum COTF award is expected to return to $500,000 next year. The maximum award through the RTP will remain the same at $150,000.
The COTF is one component of the Clean Ohio Fund, which restores, protects and connects Ohio’s natural and urban places. Ohioans approved the establishment of the $400 million bond program in 2000. Ten rounds of funding have been awarded through the COTF. Eligible projects include: acquisition of land corridors for trails, trail development, trailheads in combination with trail development and associated engineering design.
The RTP is federally funded via the Federal Highway Administration. Funded projects create and maintain trails and trail support facilities, provide motorized trail riding opportunities, improve access for people with disabilities and provide education about trail safety and the environment. All trail grant applications are evaluated on merit, including justification of trail need, trail linkages and public participation.
The application and complete submission guidelines can be found at http://realestate.ohiodnr.gov/outdoor-recreation-facility-grants.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.