ADECA's Recreational Programs assist Alabama communities in promoting outdoor activities, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and developing eco-tourism opportunities through two federal grants, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Recreational Trails Program.
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The U. S. Department of Interior, Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides funding to Alabama cities and counties for the development or establishment of outdoor recreational areas. Projects include parks, playgrounds, forest and wildlife refuges, recreational lakes and ponds, outdoor playing fields, and picnic and camping areas.
The LWCF Program was created in 1965 “…to assist in preserving, developing and assuring accessibility to all citizens of the United States of America of present and future generations …such quality and quantity of outdoor recreation resources as may be available and are necessary and desirable for individual active participation…” The program provides matching grants to states, and through the states to local governments, for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities.
All political subdivisions of the state are eligible to participate in the LWCF program. As such, municipalities, counties, state agencies and state authorities created by the legislature may apply for LWCF assistance. However, state or local educational institutions are prohibited from participating.
LWCF assistance can be used to acquire land and water interests for park purposes, develop new outdoor recreation facilities, and in certain instances renovate existing recreational facilities.
Virtually all public outdoor recreation activities are eligible for assistance under the program including playgrounds, ball fields (including lights [concrete poles only]), court sports, picnic areas, camping areas, tracks, trails, swimming facilities, etc. In addition, support facilities such as concession stands, comfort stations, park access roads, parking areas, utilities and site preparation necessary to make a recreation activity area usable may qualify for assistance. The project sponsor must either own or have a perpetual interest in land that is developed with LWCF assistance.
The LWCF program provides 50 percent matching assistance to project sponsors. The project sponsor may provide the remaining 50 percent of the project cost in the form of cash or in-kind/donated services. Grant funds are distributed to project sponsors on a cost-reimbursable basis.
The following program criteria apply to all applicants seeking LWCF assistance:
- Existing outdoor recreation facilities must be owned and managed by an eligible project sponsor; be well maintained, and the need for LWCF assistance documented in Alabama's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).
- The project sponsor must agree to manage and operate its LWCF assisted site for outdoor recreation purposes in perpetuity.
- The project sponsor must agree to comply with all other laws, rules and regulations associated with the LWCF program.
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is funded by the U. S. Department of Transportation and provides funding assistance to federal agencies, states, local governments and nonprofit organizations for the development and improvement of recreational areas such as walking, jogging, cycling, skating, backpacking, off-highway vehicle and horseback riding trails.
The Recreational Trails Program was created in 1998 to assist in acquiring, developing or improving trail and trail-related resources. Eligible applicants include federal and state agencies, local governments and private sector organizations.
The Federal share for the program is 80 percent of the total eligible project costs up to either $50,000 or $100,000. The non-Federal share (20 percent) may come from state, local or private sources, including volunteer labor and donated materials. Other Federal shares cannot be included unless specific legislation allows funds to be used for the matching share (e.g., HUD Community Development Block Grants, Public Works Employment Act of 1976). Grant funds are distributed to project sponsors on a cost-reimbursable basis.
Applications may be submitted for the following activities:
- Development of urban trail linkages near homes and workplaces (includes trail linkages to schools, parks, and existing trails)
- Maintenance of existing recreational trails
- Restoration of areas damaged by usage of recreational trails and back country terrain
- The provision of features which facilitate the access and use of trails by persons with disabilities
- The acquisition of easements for trails or for corridors identified in the state trail plan
- The acquisition of fee simple title to property from a willing seller for trail development
- The construction of new trails on state, county, municipal or private lands where a recreational need for such construction is shown
- Development of trail-side and trail-head facilities that meet goals identified by the National Recreational Trails Advisory Committee (This includes trail components or associated facilities which serve the purpose and safe use of the recreational trail and may include but are not limited to the following: 1) Drainage, 2) Crossings, 3) Stabilization, 4) Parking, 5) Signage, 6) Controls, 7) Shelters, and 8) Water, Sanitary, and Access Facilities.)
- Purchase of trail maintenance equipment (certain restrictions apply)
- Only as otherwise permissible, and where necessary and required by the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), construction of new trails crossing federal lands, where such construction is approved by the administering agency of the state, and the federal agency or agencies charged with management of all impacted lands, such approval to be contingent upon compliance by the federal agency with all applicable laws.
When is your next application cycle for either program?
The application cycles vary from year to year, depending upon if and when federal appropriations are passed and other factors. When a cycle is forthcoming, it will be announced on this website, the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, a general mailing to all counties and municipalities in Alabama, and an e-mail notice to all regional planning commissions and grant consultants. An e-mail notice will also be sent to all currently elected members of the Alabama Legislature who accept e-mail.
How may I receive a notice?
If you’re not a member of any of the groups mentioned above, you can e-mail Rob Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be placed on his e-mail list. Please note, this list is used to send out trail and outdoor recreation news affecting Alabama on a regular basis, so you may receive several e-mail messages per month.
What should I do to prepare for the next grant cycle?
First of all, do not wait until the last moment to begin developing your project. We’re not talking about actually writing the application; we mean putting your project together long before a grant cycle commences.
• Seek technical assistance from ADECA- early and often.
• Gather community support and build coalitions and partnerships within your community for the project.
• If you have existing LWCF or RTP projects in your jurisdiction, inspect them and make sure they are in good condition.
• If necessary, secure the services of a grant consultant who is experienced in developing and managing grants such as these.
• View the PowerPoint presentations for both Applications and Compliance to get a better idea of what is expected in applying for and managing LWCF and RTP grants.
May I apply for more than one project?
Generally, no. One application may be allowed for more than one location, but you must seek guidance from ADECA before submitting such an application.
May I apply for both LWCF and RTP for the same project?
May I apply if I already have an open RTP or LWCF project in my jurisdiction?
Generally, no, but you may submit a written request for a waiver BEFORE the application deadline. Approvals are decided on a case-by-case basis.
If I am awarded a grant, when do I get the money?
You don’t - that is, until you spend your money first. Both LWCF and RTP are reimbursement grants, which means you spend your money first, then file for reimbursement. LWCF reimburses 50%, RTP 80%, of the costs you submit and document.
How do I get reimbursed?
You must complete a Request for Reimbursement and attach all required supporting documents, such as invoices and cancelled checks. The Reimbursement form must be completed on a computer using Microsoft Excel.
How long does it take to receive my reimbursement?
If it’s a “clean” claim with no errors, it can take up to 4-8 weeks before you receive your check. We recommend that you plan your project cash flow accordingly.
Does either program pay for planning?
No, but each program will allow up to 10% of the grant amount for architecture and/or engineering services incidental to the project being developed.
Will either program pay for professional grant administration?
Yes, up to 5% of the grant amount.
Do I need any special equipment or software to apply for and manage a grant?
You should have a computer that is capable of supporting the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Having e-mail, a printer and a scanner would be helpful.