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    The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) administers a variety of competitive federal and state funding opportunities to build trails, protect habitat and water quality, and achieve other similar conservation-minded goals. Qualified Local Governments may apply for these resources to implement eligible projects. At a recent grants workshop, DNR staff reviewed the long-standing Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and the new Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP). Each of these programs provides substantial outside revenues for construction, maintenance, and land acquisition.

    Georgia’s allocation of federal RTP funding is available in awards of up to $200,000* on a biennial basis, with the next cycle of applications open from September 1, 2019 through November 17; all projects are subject to a requirement of at least 20% matching funds (cash or in-kind) and there is no minimum funding amount. Projects involving non-motorized, motorized, and “diverse” use (both non-motorized and motorized) are eligible for funding for new trail construction, trail restoration, trailhead facilities, lease of heavy equipment, purchase of hand tools, land acquisition for trail purposes, water trail facilities, and safety and educational programs. (*Motorized-only projects are not limited to $200,000, but to the entire allocation of motorized funding for the state in a given funding cycle.)

    The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act of 2018 (and a corresponding public vote in favor) provides for “an annual allocation of 75 percent of the revenue derived from the state sales and use tax with respect to the sale of outdoor recreation equipment to a trust fund to be used for the protection and preservation of conservation land.” (HR 238) The application period for the GOSP’s first funding cycle is scheduled to open on September 1, 2019 and close on October 31. Local project sponsors are required to provide at least 25% of total project costs in matching funds or in-kind contributions, and a minimum of $500,000/maximum of $3,000,000 in state funding is available for individual projects. As with the RTP, a wide variety of project types are eligible for GOSP funding: land and water trail development and maintenance, acquisition, etc.

    Please note for each of these programs:

    • Project guidelines and application requirements are substantial; it is likely that only sponsors with pre-conceived, existing projects will be able to meet the 2019 deadline with all necessary materials. However, NEGRC staff are able to assist with framing projects for future years’ application windows.
    • “Tracks” around ballfields or small pocket parks, sidewalks, and other similar undertakings are ineligible.

    Contact NEGRC Principal Planner John Devine, AICP (jdevine@negrc.org), for more information.