Iowa Trails 2000

Page heading
Chapter 6: Implementing the Vision

Iowa Trails 2000 sets forth a vision for a statewide trails network. This network includes corridors of national, statewide, or regional significance, with the understanding that numerous local trail systems will be interconnected. The implementation of this vision is a significant task, but can be accomplished through the cooperation of various state agencies, local governments, and private interests.

The 1990 Iowa Statewide Recreational Trails Plan proposed approximately 3,000 miles of trails as part of the backbone and support systems. In 1990, approximately 400 miles of the system were in place. In 2000, at the time of Iowa Trails 2000, approximately 1,180 miles of trails have been built as part of the statewide system. This indicates a construction rate of approximately 78 miles of trails per year. Iowa Trails 2000 proposes 4,391 miles of new trails as part of the statewide vision. At the current rate of trail construction, the statewide trails vision would be complete in approximately 56 years.

In order to accomplish the statewide trails vision and to speed the rate of trail development, several action items should be considered. These action items describe the general tasks which should occur throughout the implementation of the vision plan. Rather than offering a specific sequence of events, the action items describe ongoing tasks necessary for implementation of the vision.

The statewide trails vision will be implemented through:

  • Coordination between state agencies, local government agencies, and private developers;
  • Involvement of the public in all aspects of the implementation of the vision;
  • Building increased support for the statewide trails vision;
  • Continued trails planning;
  • Developing and constructing trails projects;
  • Effective operations and maintenance of trails; and
  • The efficient use of available funding, and the search for additional financing.
Agency Coordination

The statewide trails vision, as set forth in Iowa Trails 2000, will be implemented through a cooperative effort between state agencies, regional agencies, local governments, trails advocacy groups, and non-profit organizations. Continued coordination of efforts is necessary in order to maximize funding, efficiently use staff time, and market completed trails.

Ultimately, the implementation of the statewide trails vision is based on the successful development of specific trails projects. There are two principal ways in which trails projects are developed in Iowa:

  • by local governments, agencies, or organizations
  • by state agencies themselves.

In addition to the above two methods, some trails may be implemented by private developers, typically within housing or office developments. How these trails work into the public system depends on whether the trails are turned over to a local jurisdiction upon completion or are held by a management company or homeowners’ association. If these trails become public facilities owned by a local government entity, they inherently become a part of the statewide trails vision. This is a desirable practice, and local communities should strive to extend their trails systems in cooperation with private developers.

Local Development

Since the adoption of the 1990 Iowa Statewide Recreational Trails Plan, local governments have been developing trails within the statewide trails system. A large amount of the funding has been provided by the Iowa DOT through the State Recreational Trails Program and through other funding mechanisms operated by the DOT and DNR. Under this system, trail developers apply to the DOT or DNR for funding, and are responsible for all aspects of trail planning, design, and construction. This method has allowed local governments to prioritize and select trail corridors according to local needs and desires.

A significant number of trails in Iowa will continue to be developed in this way. Some recommended changes to this system, such as evaluation of funding criteria and state agency involvement in the resolution of difficult issues, are discussed in Chapter 8: Recommendations. Funding opportunities are discussed later in this chapter.

Implementation by State Agencies

Beginning with Iowa Trails 2000, state agencies will be taking a more active role in the implementation of the statewide trails vision. Trails implemented by state agencies are planned, designed, constructed, and managed by the DOT or DNR. Some examples of trails that have already been built according to this model include all trails within state parks and some local connectors implemented by the DNR, and trails within state highway rights-of-way.

The Statewide Trails Vision in Chapter 3 sets forth a framework for further trails planning by state and local agencies. Iowa Trails 2000 will be followed by specific trails plans, prepared by state agencies and designed to prioritize projects for implementation. These additional plans will be based on the statewide trails vision set forth in Iowa Trails 2000.

Recommendations specific to these additional trails plans are discussed in Chapter 8: Recommendations.

Roles and Responsibilities

As discussed above, the development of trails in Iowa is a cooperative effort between various agencies, communities and organizations. The level of involvement by local governments, county and regional governments, state agencies, federal agencies, or private groups depends on the type of trail being proposed and the exact location of the trail. In general, however, these different groups have specific responsibilities during the trail planning and development process.

  • Iowa Department of Transportation

For locally developed trails, the DOT is a significant funding source through administration of the state’s major trail grant programs. It also offers some planning and design assistance, offers financing guidance, and reviews final trail plans for Iowa DOT funded projects.

For trails developed by state agencies, the DOT is responsible for subsequent trails planning and implementation, specifically for bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The DOT will be primarily involved in developing trails within state highway rights-of-way, but may partner with other agencies or communities in the development of other trails.

  • Iowa DOT District Offices

For locally developed trails, the district offices are the primary contact point for local communities and organizations. These offices offer guidance in navigating through the funding process, and provide planning and programming assistance.

For trails owned by the DOT, the district offices may have significant responsibility for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of trails. These offices may also have some responsibility for planning, programming, and project development of specific trail projects.

  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources

For locally implemented trails, the DNR works cooperatively with local jurisdictions in providing funding and management assistance for trail links between state parks and neighboring communities. It also offers guidance on funding options and reviews trails plans for DNR-funded projects.

The DNR also maintains a system of multi-purpose trails within state parks, recreation areas, and forests totaling more than 650 miles. The DNR may also be responsible for additional trail planning, specifically for OHV, canoe/kayak, and snowmobile facilities.

  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Planning Affiliations may initiate regional trail planning efforts (regional system plans, in particular), and can offer planning, programming, funding, and design assistance to local communities. They also program specific trail projects for local communities and seek funding from the DOT and other sources.
  • County Conservation Boards are charged with the acquisition, development, operations, and maintenance of county recreation, preservation, and interpretive facilities. They may, therefore, act as primary local planners and developers of trails. They may also receive state and federal grants for this purpose.
  • Local Governments, Communities, Agencies, and Organizations are the primary developers and owners of specific trail projects at the local level. Such groups must include municipal or county governments, since they are the recipients of any federal or state funds. They are responsible for local coordination, public involvement, and final trail design, including alignment determination. They are also usually responsible for seeking funding through federal, state, local, and private sources; contracting with appropriate consultants; and operation and maintenance of the completed trail.
  • Other State Agencies, such as the Department of Economic Development or the Department of Cultural Affairs, may offer technical assistance for specific issues.
  • Private Organizations, such as the Iowa Trails Council, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the State OHV Association, and special interest clubs (such as snowmobile clubs, equestrian clubs, and bicycle clubs) may coordinate implementation of a trail by partnering with a local government entity, and may contribute funding or in-kind services that support trail development.

Table 6-1 tabulates the various responsibilities of the above groups.


Public Involvement

A crucial early step in trail planning is to broaden awareness of the trail project and begin to gain consensus. An important way to gain public support early on is to make sure the community and trail users are involved in the system planning process. Iowa Trails 2000 employed extensive public involvement strategies, including open houses, newsletters, and a website. Throughout the implementation of the statewide trails vision and the development of specific trails projects, this kind of public involvement should continue.

For each subsequent planning effort or trails development project, a public information strategy should be developed. Trail planners and developers may decide to hold meetings on a regular basis, establish a trail advisory committee, publish a newsletter, send direct mailings, maintain a website, establish an e-mail list-serve for interested parties, or any other method they see fit to use. What is important is to establish a strategy, communicate that strategy to the public, and follow the strategy throughout the trail planning or development process.

In addition to the recommendations listed above for public involvement, there may be legal requirements for notification of adjacent landowners. The agency or government responsible for trail planning or development should be aware of any local requirements.

Increasing Support for the Statewide Trails Vision

Public involvement and public support go hand in hand. By involving the public early and often, Iowa Trails 2000 addresses the desires of the citizens of Iowa. State and local agencies should continue to strive for increased public support for the statewide trails vision throughout the implementation process.

In addition, it is important to increase the support for the statewide trails vision among local, regional, and county governments; non-profit organizations and trail advocacy groups; other state agencies; and legislators. By increasing support for trails both at the grassroots level and the administrative level, the statewide trails vision can be effectively implemented.

With a good public process, legitimate issues, concerns, and opposition to trails developments can be aired and resolved. However, some opposition to trails comes from misunderstanding and not being informed. This may occur for a variety of reasons, but primarily because there is little time given to "public" involvement and education. In order to assist communities in addressing and alleviating these concerns, a summary of common reactions to trails is included on the following pages, along with possible responses to each issue or concern. These should be thought of and used as aids for public information, and not as rebuttals for opposition arguments.

Concern / Issue Possible responses

Liability risks involved in constructing or designating bicycle facilities are too great.

In most states, recreational use statutes protect adjacent property owners along trails.

Ninety-two percent of rail-trails are owned and managed by a public agency. In every case, the liability risks associated with the trail are folded into the public agency's umbrella insurance policy.

Public agencies can reduce their potential exposure to legal action by incorporating the following activities: use accepted facility planning and design guidelines (AASHTO or FHWA); apply common maintenance standards to public facilities; monitor the use of facilities and be aware of any developing problems; and post warnings to users regarding actual or potential hazards.

Multi-use trails are mainly for recreation and don't serve a transportation purpose.

Rail-trails in many states are used for transportation purposes. On trails in Seattle, Washington; North Virginia; and Clearwater, Florida; 39 percent of the weekday use is for commuting purposes.

All automobile trips are not solely for transportation purposes, up to one-quarter of all automobile trips are for social and recreational reasons.

Our community cannot afford bicycling and walking facilities.

Most communities can afford the federal government’s required match of 20 percent of the project cost. On average, communities contribute 27 percent of a project's total cost.

Trails can generate additional revenue for public agencies.

Local businesses of all kinds, from antique shops and bed & breakfast establishments to hardware and even clothing stores, frequently see an increase in sales when a trail opens on a previously unused railroad corridor. New businesses such as snack bars and bicycle shops often open to accommodate trail users.

Approximately 5 to 22 cents is saved (through reduced pollution, damage to the environment, etc.) for every automobile mile displaced by walking and bicycling.

People are afraid to use bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

Statistics indicate that crime on trails occurs no more frequently than in any other public place.

Safety on trails can be increased through design practices. Lighting, elimination of dead ends, aesthetics and paying close attention to the design of tunnels and underpasses can reduce safety concerns.

Providing active management of the facility, including garbage pickup, mowing, etc., indicates to users and potential abusers that a local agency is monitoring the trail.

Management practices such as regular observation of trails by volunteer trail patrols or police officers, placement of emergency phones, and vegetation maintenance can also increase safety.

Trail use results in trespassing problems and less privacy for adjacent landowners.

Planting vegetation screens or constructing fences can be included in trail designs along the properties of concerned landowners.

Where trails pass through or are adjacent to private property, trail signage can include reminders that trail users are to remain in the trail corridor and that private property abuts the trail.

Trail users do not pay their fair share of trail costs.

Bicyclists and pedestrians are also motorists who pay gas taxes. Off-highway vehicle (OHV) users also pay gas taxes and registration fees.

Many cycling and pedestrian improvements are made on road rights-of-way and can improve conditions for drivers. Added shoulder provisions for bikes also improve roadway safety for vehicles. Additionally, removing pedestrians and bicyclists from the roadway decreases the operational concerns for motorists.

Some trail users pay fees that go directly to trail development and maintenance (OHV registration fees, trail passes, etc.).

Trails do not provide benefits for those that do not use them.

Local businesses of all kinds, from antique shops and bed & breakfast establishments to hardware and even clothing stores, frequently see an increase in sales when a trail opens on a previously unused railroad corridor. New businesses such as snack bars and bicycle shops often open to accommodate trail users.

Trails near residential areas actually increase neighboring property values. There is no indication that trails cause property values to decrease. The 2000 Omaha Recreational Trails Study, the 1992 National Park Service Study, the Burke-Gilman Study and the Colorado State Parks Survey all found that property values either increased or remained constant. Real estate agents list proximity to the trail in advertisements and homeowners report that the presence of the trail would make their home easier to sell.

Approximately 5 to 22 cents is saved (through reduced pollution, damage to the environment, etc.) for every automobile mile displaced by walking and bicycling.

Trails near residential areas actually increase neighboring property values, potentially increasing community tax revenues.

Important wildlife habitats are protected along rail-trails. Dense vegetation gives cover to a variety of species. Rail-trails that parallel rivers and streams provide vital buffer zones for birds, turtles, fish and plant life.

Railroad corridors have significant value as part of American culture and history. Rail-trails preserve historic railroad depots, bridges, markers, sites and routes. Historic interpretation is widely used on rail-trails to keep history alive for generations to come.

Trails encourage littering, crime and vandalism and have negative impacts on adjacent property owners.

Numerous studies have documented that trails do not contribute to an increase in crime and vandalism.

Trails are generally safer and cleaner than unused abandoned rail corridors.

Trails near residential areas actually increase neighboring property values. There is no indication that trails cause property values to decrease. The 2000 Omaha Recreational Trails Study, the 1992 National Park Service Study, the Burke-Gilman Study and the Colorado State Parks Survey all found that property values either increased or remained constant. Real estate agents list proximity to the trail in advertisements and homeowners report that the presence of the trail would make their home easier to sell.

Get information on successful trails and projects out to the public before there is hard-core resistance. Bring in individuals or organizations from other communities that were originally opposed to trails developed in their area but are now in favor of trails because of the positive experience with a trail in their community.

Trail corridors can be visually appealing to adjacent landowners. Landscaping or amenities such as split-rail fencing not only make a corridor attractive, but they provide a buffer between the trail corridor and adjacent property.

Use of abandoned rail corridors for trails in agricultural areas prevents reversion of land to farmers, possibly decreasing access between fields.

Work with adjacent farmers to identify needed access points and incorporate field access provisions (including privacy gate, if needed) into trail design.

We do not want a trail adjacent to our property.

Surveys of adjacent landowners prior to and following construction of trails indicate that most landowners who were originally opposed to trail construction eventually accepted or became proponents of the trail corridor.

Early notification of proposed trails and education of landowners regarding the above issues can minimize the number of opponents. (Note: 1999 Iowa legislation requires prior notification of all landowners adjacent to proposed trail corridors.)

The above concerns and recommendations come from a variety of sources, which can be consulted for more detailed information on how to deal with specific issues. Resources include the following:

Doherty, Susan. "Rail-Trails and Community Sentiment – A Study of Opposition to Rail-Trails & Strategies for Success." Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. January, 1998.

Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands. "Stearns County Parks Department Lake Wobegon Regional Trail Survey of Adjacent Property Owners." 1999.

Greer, Donald. "Omaha Recreational Trails: Their Use and Effect on Property Values and Public Safety." University of Nebraska at Omaha. June, 2000. Available on-line at

Moore, Roger. Et al. "The Impacts of Rail-Trails: A Study of the Users and Property Owners from Three Trails." National Park Service. 1991.

National Bicycle and Pedestrian Clearinghouse. "Overcoming Opposition to Bicycling, Walking and Trail Development." Technical Assistance Series No. 7. March, 1996.

Robertson, Robert. "The Raccoon River Valley Trail User Study: Summary and Recommendations." Recreation Management Program at Iowa State University and Dallas County Conservation. April, 1992.

Tracy, Tammy and Hugh Morris. "Rail-Trails and Safe Communities - The Experience on 372 Trails." Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. January, 1998.

Trails Advocate, The Iowa Trails Magazine. "Foes Turned Friends." Reprinted from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy publication in the Spring of 2000. Volume 16, No.1. February, 2000.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Trails and Greenways Section (located in Des Moines) has also provided Iowa trail advocacy groups with information on how to address landowners’ and trail opponents’ concerns. They can also be contacted for additional information and ideas.

Trails System Planning

Iowa Trails 2000 sets forth a framework for the development of trails projects in Iowa. It offers a variety of resources for trail developers and owners, and maps a vision of corridor implementation by state agencies and local governments. The implementation of the statewide vision, however, will be effected by a variety of agencies, at all levels of government, that plan, develop, and manage trails.

Whether trails are to be developed by state agencies or local communities, system planning is a crucial first step. Implementing agencies should consider what types of users will be accommodated by their system, to what attractions will their system be connected, how projects within their system will be prioritized, and how trail projects will be funded. A system plan may be as simple as a single corridor to be developed over time, or as complex as a community-wide system of multi-use trails. System plans are discussed further in Chapter 8: Recommendations. In addition, Iowa Trails 2000 includes a handbook, "Connecting People and Trails: Local Community Planning for Pedestrian and Bicycles," which offers extensive guidance on the process of trail planning.

Completion of Trails Projects

In its essence, the Iowa Statewide Trails Vision is a network of yet-to-be-developed, interconnected trail facilities. The implementation of this vision is to be accomplished by the ongoing development of trail facilities. As stated above, trail projects will be developed by local governments, state agencies, and private interests. Three tasks, however, should be accomplished, no matter which agency or government is developing the trail project. These tasks ensure the quality, increase the cost efficiency, and assist in the marketing of the statewide trails vision:

  • Detail design of a trail project should be accomplished according to the design guidelines set forth in Iowa Trails 2000. During the detail design phase, the developing agency or government will be responsible for acquiring right-of-way and making decisions on the final design of the trail. Any connections to the state system or neighboring systems should be coordinated. The final design must then be submitted for approval to the appropriate agencies. If Iowa DOT or DNR funding is being used to implement the trail, these agencies will need to review the final plans.
  • Bidding and Construction will be overseen by the trail developer/owner. In most cases, the plan documents for the trail will be let for bid to a contractor, who will construct the trail in its entirety. In some cases and for some types of trails, volunteer labor may constitute a significant portion of the construction. Whatever the method for construction, the trail developer continues to oversee the project, and should ensure that the trail remains safe during and after construction.
  • Notification of Completion should be given to the Iowa DOT, the Iowa DNR, and the Iowa Department of Economic Development as soon as the trail is operational, so that the newly available trail can be listed on the statewide trails vision map. In addition, the trail may be actively marketed or additional amenities may be added to increase the use and desirability of the trail.
Operations and Maintenance

Early in the planning and development process for trails projects, the trail owner should consider the operations and maintenance of their trail facilities. In the case of locally implemented trails, funding awarded for trail implementation cannot typically be used for ongoing maintenance. The trail owner must determine how the trail will be managed, policed, and maintained, and how that maintenance will be funded. For more on operations and maintenance see Chapter 7.


Additional funding will be required in order to implement the statewide trails vision in a timely manner. There are numerous existing grant programs and a variety of innovative funding techniques that provide financing for different types of trail projects, but, in general, money requested is much greater than money available. Some recommendations regarding securing additional funding are included in Chapter 8: Recommendations. This section describes existing and innovative funding mechanisms that state agencies and local governments may use to develop trails, thereby implementing the statewide vision.

There are two primary issues relating to funding: where trail money comes from and how to secure it. In the case of locally implemented trails, trail implementers will most likely seek funding from outside sources, including state and federal government agencies. There are a variety of sources for this funding, but its availability can depend on the type of trail and size of project. The following sections give an overview of how trail money is acquired and how local communities can receive funding, both through existing and innovative sources.

Funding Types

Some of the funding that can be used for trails comes from sources with restricted uses. The following is an overview of various existing funding sources, how the money is accrued, and how it may be used.


Federal transportation funds come from a variety of sources, including federal gas taxes. A portion of this money can be used for trail initiatives under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). This act appropriates a certain amount of money to each state to be used for transportation enhancements, which includes trails. This money is available on an application basis and is programmed and prioritized by the Iowa DOT, Regional Planning Affiliations, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

Some funding may also be available through federal recreation or conservation programs, such as the National Recreational Trails Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This money also comes from a variety of sources and is administered by the State.


The Iowa Legislature has appropriated a designated amount of money specifically for trail development. This money comes from the General Fund and the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. These funds may be used for any type of trail. Money for the General Fund is acquired from a variety of taxes, including income tax. The State Recreational Trails Program, Recreation Infrastructure grants, and Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) grants are funded in this manner.


Otherwise known as the state gas tax, the Iowa road use tax fund acquires money from taxes on gasoline. Only trails within road rights-of-way may be constructed using the Iowa road use tax fund. The use of this money for the implementation of any other trails is prohibited.


Users of snowmobiles, ATVs, and off-road motorcycles pay a fee to register their vehicles in Iowa. The fund created from these fees is used for the development of facilities for snowmobiles, ATVs, and off-road motorcycles. Funding from this source may be used for linear trails or nodal parks, but may not be used for trails that do not accommodate motorized recreational vehicles.


Some trail operators elect to collect use fees on their trails. Where this is the case, these fees typically are used for maintenance of the trail, and are usually controlled by the trail operator.

Funding Sources for Trails

The great majority of trails are funded by a variety of sources, including local, state, and federal money. Local agencies, community groups, or non-profit organizations wishing to implement trails have a variety of funding options, including both existing grant programs and innovative funding strategies.

Table 6-2 lists existing grant and fund money that may be used for trail implementation. Table 6-3 lists innovative funding concepts that have been employed elsewhere and could apply to trails in Iowa.

Funding Function Program Name Contact Information Brief Description

Trail Development

State Recreational Trails Program

Iowa Department of Transportation District Planners.

See Appendix F for detailed contact information.

The State Recreational Trails Program funds public recreational trails. The grant requires a 25% local match and the trail must be maintained as a public facility for a minimum of 20 years. Proposed projects must be part of a statewide, regional, areawide, or local trail plan.

Trail Development

National Recreational Trails Fund

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Parks, Recreation, and Preserves Division
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-5145)


Iowa Department of Transportation

Office of Systems Planning
800 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50010



The National Recreational Trails Fund is a federal granting program with a 50% local match. It can be used to construct and maintain motorized and non-motorized recreational trails and trail related projects. Proposed projects must be identified in the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan or the State Trails Plan.

Trail Development

Federal Transportation Enhancements Program

Iowa Department of Transportation District Planners


Metropolitan Planning Organizations


Regional Planning Affiliations.

See Appendix F for detailed contact information.


The Federal Transportation Enhancements Program, also known as TEA-21, funds enhancement or preservation activities of transportation related projects. Trail projects may fall into one of three categories: trails and bikeways, historic preservation, or scenic and natural resources. A 20 to 30% local match is required, depending on whether the project has regional or statewide significance.

Trail Development

Iowa Clean Air Attainment Program

Iowa Department of Transportation District Planners.

See Appendix F for detailed contact information.

The Iowa Clean Air Attainment Program funds street, transit, or trail projects which help maintain Iowa's clean air quality by reducing transportation related emissions. A 20% local match is required and application forms must be submitted with emission reduction calculations.

Trail Development and Amenities

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Arnie Sohn
Parks, Recreation, and Preserves Division
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-5814

The Land and Water Conservation Fund provides 50% grants for acquisition and development of outdoor recreation areas and facilities. Grants are made to the State of Iowa or its political subdivisions.

Building Repair and Renovation, Trail Construction

Recreation Infrastructure Grant Program

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Arnie Sohn
Parks, Recreation, and Preserves Division
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-5814

This program provides 1/3 grants to cities, counties, organizations, and associations for repair, renovation, and/or replacement of vertical infrastructure and trails.

Corridor Protection and Greenway Establishment

Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP)

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Kevin Szcodronski
Parks, Recreation, and Preserves Division
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-8674

REAP provides 100% grants to cities and counties for open space protection and passive outdoor recreation.

Trail Development

Federal Supply Service

General Services Administration’s Federal Supply Service

Surplus items are used by state and local public agencies for carrying out or promoting one or more public purposes, such as conservation, parks, and recreation, by certain non-profit organizations for tax-exempt activities for public health or education purposes. Donated land could be used for the creation of trails, parks and open space.

Trail Development

Economic Development Administration

United States Department of Commerce

Economic Development Administration

This agency offers grants for public facilities, including port facilities, tourism facilities, etc. Public works projects can include trail and other recreational facilities.

Trail Development

Wildlife Conservation and Appreciation

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

(703) 358-2156

The Wildlife Conservation and Appreciation program funds initiatives for which the principal purpose is to provide opportunities for the public to use and enjoy fish and wildlife through nonconsumptive activities. This program recognizes the public recreational opportunities pertaining to nongame wildlife enjoyment, including trails and waterways.

Trail Development

The Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program

National Park Service

Mark Weekley
1709 Jackson Street
Omaha, NE 68102

(402) 221-3350

The Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program was established in response to increased public demand to conserve rivers and provide trail opportunities.

Trail Development

American Greenways Kodak Awards Program

The Conservation Fund

1800 North Kent Street, Suite 1120
Arlington, VA 22209

American Greenways Kodak Awards Program, administered by The Conservation Fund, provides grants of $500 to $2,500 to local greenways projects. Grants can be used for almost any activity that serves as a catalyst for local greenway planning, design or development.

Trail Development

American Greenways Dupont Awards Program

The Conservation Fund

1800 North Kent Street, Suite 1120
Arlington, VA 22209

The American Greenways Dupont Awards Program is administered by the Conservation Fund, in partnership with Dupont and the National Geographic Society. This program provides grants of $500 to $2,500 to local greenways projects.

Trail Development

Bikes Belong

Bikes Belong Coalition, Ltd.

1368 Beacon Street, Suite 116
Brookline, MA 02446

(617) 734-2800

Bikes Belong Coalition is sponsored by members of the American Bicycle Industry. Their goal is putting more people on bikes through the implementation of TEA-21. They seek to assist local organizations, agencies, and citizens in developing bicycle facilities that will be funded by TEA-21. Matching grants up to $10,000 are awarded.

Trail Development

Community Attractions and Tourism (CAT)

Iowa Department of Economic Development

Mark Eckman
200 E. Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

(515) 242-4770

The Community Attractions and Tourism (CAT) Program funds community attractions and tourism development activities which enhance the economic impact of tourism. Some trails may meet these criteria.

Trail Development and Improvement

The National Trails Endowment

American Hiking Society

Attn: National Trails Endowment
1422 Fenwick Lane
Silver Spring, MD 20910

The National Trails Endowment was established to provide grants to trail organizations working to establish, protect and maintain America's foot trails. Grants will be awarded to trail organizations and other non-profits with a trail-related focus. Grants will typically be limited to $1,000 to $10,000 amounts.

Trail Development and Improvement

Community Facilities Loans

Community Facilities Loans

Community facilities loans fund the construction, enlargement, extension or otherwise improvement of community facilities. Trail benefits could include improved access through utilities extensions.

Trail Development, Maintenance, Land Acquisition

Snowmobile Grants

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Tony Tiogo
Parks, Recreation, and Preserves Division
502 East 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-6101

The DNR Snowmobile Trail grants offer funding for the development of riding areas, trail maintenance, equipment purchases, trail groomers, insurance, and land acquisition.

Trail Development and Maintenance

ATV Trail Grants

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Tony Tiogo
Parks, Recreation, and Preserves Division
502 East 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-6101

The DNR ATV Trail grants offer funding for the development of public riding areas, trail maintenance, equipment purchases, trail groomers, insurance, and land acquisition.

Trail Development and Maintenance




Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Mark Edwards
Parks, Recreation, and Preserves Division
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-8959

Americorps is a national volunteer program in which agencies, communities, or non-profit groups can sponsor personnel to assist in a variety of activities. Funds must be used to operate or plan community service programs. Programs could include trail building, environmental education and community restoration work.

Trail Development and Maintenance

Challenge Cost Share Program

National Park Service

The Challenge Cost Share Program funds any partnership which benefits National Park Service projects or programs. This may include historic and archaeological site restoration, resource management, resource inventory and monitoring, scientific research, trail maintenance, interpretive videos for environmental or heritage education programs, interpretive exhibit enhancement or summer youth employment for recreation activities.

Trail Development & Preservation

Conservation Alliance

Conservation Alliance

Jill Zilligen
259 West Santa Clara Street
Ventura, CA 93001

The Conservation Alliance was founded to fund grassroots conservation organizations and their efforts to protect rivers, trails, and wild lands for non-motorized recreation. Grants are made annually.

Trail Preservation

Direct Impact on Rivers and Trails (DIRT)

Powerfood, Inc.

Attn: DIRT Program
2150 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710

PowerBar's Direct Impact on Rivers and Trails Program (DIRT) provides grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 in support of efforts to protect, preserve and restore recreational lands and waterways.

Trail Promotion, OHV Recreation Promotion


American Honda Motor Co., Inc. provides grants for projects that create partnerships and promote OHV recreation and club development.

Trail Safety


Polaris Industries, Inc. provides grants of up to $1,000 to snowmobile clubs or associations to help fund safety related projects such as rescue toboggans and two-way radios.

Trail Development and Maintenance

Local Funding Mechanisms

Trails may be developed, managed, and maintained using local funds. There are numerous ways such funds can be dedicated for trail use. Bond referenda, assessments, special financing districts, park/trail dedication, or general fund money may be used at a local government’s discretion. Often, this money is used as the local match for other federal or state trail grants.

Funding Function Type of Funding Contact Information Brief Description

Land Acquisition

Purchase Assistance

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

505 5th Avenue, Suite 444
Des Moines, IA 50309

(515) 288-1846

The INHF can offer assistance in land acquisition by purchasing land on behalf of local or state governments. The INHF can typically move more quickly than a government agency, and can purchase land and hold it for eventual sale to a public interest.

Trail Development

Corporate Sponsorship

Continental Divide Trail Alliance

Bruce Ward

PO Box 628

Pine, CO 80470

(303) 275-5058

In order to raise funding to complete the Continental Divide Trail, corporate sponsorship was solicited. Businesses put their corporate logos on signs at trailheads along the trail in exchange for large donations. The corporate logos are confined to trailheads that connect with the Continental Divide Trail, and the logos cannot be larger than the Forest Service's seal.

Trail Development


Jackson County, Oregon

Karen Smith

(541) 774-6231

The Great Bear Creek Greenway Foundation has learned to be imaginative when helping Jackson County raise matching funds for trails. In addition to the usual fundraising events of membership drives, silent auctions and direct appeals, the Greenway Foundation has held a successful Great Bear Creek Greenway Yard Sale for the last four years. For $40, a person can purchase a symbolic "yard" of the trail and have their name added to the donor list. A future permanent marker at each trailhead will bear the name of the contributor and the section to which they contributed.

Trail Development


Apollo, Pennsylvania

The people of Apollo, Pennsylvania, wanted to purchase 300 acres of undeveloped land for use in future trails and greenspace. They applied for Transportation Enhancement awards and other Federal funds, but also started a "300 Club", a project that gave the townspeople something tangible to work with while the application process was underway. The price of land Apollo was buying was $400 an acre. They sold honorary acres at $400 each, which meant each purchaser could have honorary ownership of one acre of the land. More than 100 acres were sold, raising $40,000. This amount, in addition to the TE awards and other funds, enabled Apollo to buy the land.

Trail Development


Poudre River Trail Corridor

(970) 350-9783

In order to raise money for trail development, the supporters of the Poudre River Trail Corridor met with local merchants and the local college to sell items featuring a Poudre River Trail Corridor logo. Three supermarket chains and Aims Community College are locating displays that feature items offered for sale by the Trail Marketing Committee to raise funds to construct the trail.

Trail Development


Watchable Wildlife Program

Bob Hernbrode
Colorado Division of Wildlife
6060 Broadway
Denver, CO 80216

The purpose of the Watchable Wildlife program is to manage wildlife resources and people and to provide sustainable recreational benefits to those who wish to observe, photograph and otherwise enjoy wildlife through activities other than hunting and fishing. This program presents opportunities for trail planners to look at possible funding as a way to enhance the attractiveness of a trail and as a means of increasing public awareness of trails with wildlife interest.

Trail Development

In-kind Donations

Colorado School of Mines

Bob Knecht
Design (EPICS) Division
Golden, CO 80401

(303) 273-3592

Assistance to communities can take the form of involving small or large groups of students in local projects. Students are able to perform conceptual and detailed engineering design, project development, and data acquisition and processing. Projects are approached on a multidisciplinary basis with mentor (faculty) supervision and assistance.

Trail Development

Multiple Grants

Calhoun County, Alabama

(256) 237-6741

In Calhoun County, Alabama, sponsors of a Transportation Enhancement funded rail-trail sought non-U.S. DOT federal funds to help finance their project. The sponsors of this rail-trail, the Chief Ladiga Rail-Trail, received $100,000 of Land and Water Conservation Funds for the acquisition of 22 miles of the trail corridor. Trail sponsors also secured $30,000 from the US Forest Service for bridge rehabilitation. The Forest Service money and $12,000 raised by county citizens was used to rehabilitate four bridges on the Cleburene segment of the Chief Ladiga Rail-Trail. In addition, the trail's sponsors obtained National Recreational Trail program funds for trail connections.

Trail Development

Private Sector Contributions

Department of Parks and Recreation

Green County, Ohio

(937) 376-7440

The Green County Department of Parks and Recreation tries to exhaust all state and local sources of funding first. The DPR then pursues private in-kind contributions from Chambers of Commerce and local banks that like to be identified with trail amenities. Finally, significant force account work (design or construction of a project performed by the agency's own work force) is contributed. For example, the county competitively awards small contracts for earth moving on a "tasking" basis. The basic unit of procurement is the "equipment operating hour" - just request the machine, tell the operator what is to be done, and pay by the hour when the work is completed.

Trail Development

Public/Private Partnerships

University of California, Davis

(530) 752-3727

The University of California, Davis, received transportation enhancement (TE) funds to construct a bike and pedestrian path and related lighting and landscaping on the east end of the campus adjacent to a new on-campus housing project. The housing developer agreed to give the university the money that the developer was considering for use for a pathway along the west side of the housing project. UC Davis combined the money from the developer with funds received from campus parking fines to create the matching funds for the TE award.

Trail Implementation Policies

When implementing trail projects, local and state communities and agencies should consider the established policies and guidance of a variety of state agencies. Such adherence to state policy is essential if state funding is being used.

OHV Parks

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently adopted a policy on OHV park acquisition and development. This policy was formulated by a working group led by the DNR, which included a variety of stakeholders.

The working group determined that the first consideration of the DNR in any decision to buy, lease and/or develop a tract as an OHV facility will be to assure that the piece of land which will become an OHV riding area is disturbed and degraded so that it does not contain native plant communities, cultural resources or critical habitat for threatened and endangered species or species of special concern.

To that end, the DNR will target previously disturbed areas for OHV facilities. Previously disturbed areas include but are not limited to agricultural lands (including logging and pasturing of timbered ground), mining or other intensive land uses that have resulted in the elimination of high-quality natural areas, native plant communities, critical habitats and cultural resources. If a tract contains fragments of high-quality natural areas it will be managed and contained as an off-limit site.

The DNR’s policy also contains specific information on acquisition criteria. For the full text of the policy, see Appendix E.

Bicycle Accommodation Guidance

Based on guidance adopted by the Iowa DOT in 1999, Iowa Trails 2000 has developed a method for evaluating the need for priority bicycle and pedestrian trails within highway rights-of-way. This accommodation guidance is included in Appendix C. All jurisdictions responsible for roads, streets, and highways should consider the development of a similar policy.