filed under: community & partnership development

Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Available

Deadline Extended until April 9, 2021.

Funding available for trail maintenance efforts on USFS lands.

The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, in collaboration with American Trails, the American Hiking Society, Back Country Horsemen of America, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, and the American Motorcyclist Association, is pleased to announce the 4th round of the National Forest System Trail Stewardship Partnership Funding (Trail Stewardship Partner Funding) through the financial assistance of the USDA Forest Service for trail maintenance on National Forest System trails for the 2021 Field season - May 2021 through December 2021.

What is the Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program?

The Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program will award funds to trails and stewardship organizations for increasing trail maintenance accomplishments and reducing deferred maintenance (trail backlog) on National Forest System trails. Funding will be available for all types of terra trails (summer use trails), for both motorized and non-motorized uses.

What trail work can be done?

Any qualifying trail maintenance work on a National Forest System Trail will be considered. Projects can include clearing, brushing, tread repair, structure repair or replacement, and installation of trail signs. Any activity that will reduce existing trail deferred maintenance is also acceptable. Any trail work that will meet National Quality Standards and is required under the Trail Management Objectives will qualify.

What costs can be reimbursed?

Typical costs that can be reimbursed include salary and fringe benefits for crews and staff, supplies and equipment, transportation reimbursement, contract costs for specialized equipment or skills, materials, volunteer food, and training. Organizations are allowed to include up to 10% indirect costs in their proposals.

Who qualifies to apply for this Trail Stewardship Funding?

Any current nonprofit organization (eg. 501 (c) (3), 501 (c) 7) in good standing with the IRS may apply for this funding. Organizations should have a sponsored volunteer or other agreement with their local Forest Service office for work performed under this funding program.

What is the role of volunteers with these grants?

A secondary objective of the Trail Stewardship Funding program is to encourage an increase in the number and hours of volunteer labor on trails in the National Forests. Projects that have a volunteer component are encouraged and preferred, but are not required. Projects that rely solely on paid staff or interns are totally acceptable.

How much money is available in the Trail Stewardship Funding Program?

Total funding amounts for 2021 are waiting on final appropriations for FY2021. We anticipate approximately $550,000 to be available. We anticipate splitting this amount into a pool for smaller projects and a pool for larger projects. This program is dependent on the FS depositing Challenge Cost Share Program funding with NWSA.

What are the amounts of the Trail Funding?

Projects are anticipated to be a minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $20,000 per organization. This year smaller projects in the $2,000 - $5,000 range will be pooled to compete against other smaller projects. Larger projects from $5,000 - $20,000 will also be pooled. Actual funding may vary depending on the needs of each project, the number of proposals, and the availability of funds. This funding is expected to help improve the amount of trail maintenance and reduction of trails deferred maintenance on National Forest System trails during the 2021 field season to help implement the Forest Service National Trails Strategy.

Is there a dollar match requirement?

Yes, there is a matching contribution requirement. The match must be dollar for dollar (or 1:1) or cash equivalent and may be accomplished through cash, contributed funding, and/or in-kind contribution. Cash matching will be encouraged. Contributed funding in this context is where the member organization pays for a portion of the project through actual cash outlays for salaries, equipment, supplies or other expenses. In-kind contributions are generally for volunteer labor or use of existing equipment and vehicles.

What must be included in the Trail Funding Application?

Each Funding Application must include:

  • The Application, which includes a description of the project, the specific accomplishments, the benefit of the project, timeline, a budget narrative, and description of matching funds.
  • Proposed project budget
  • A letter of Support from the District Ranger/Forest Supervisor that also identifies the areas or trail segments that will be improved by this grant.
  • IRS letter of determination of non-profit status (eg. 501(c)(3), 501 (c)(7), etc…), if not already on file with NWSA.

Where can I get additional information about these Trail Grants?

Additional information can be found on the NWSA website at

You may also call Randy Welsh, Executive Director, NWSA at 801-808-2167 or send questions to [email protected].

Published March 2021

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