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for grants eligible for local units of government.
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for grants eligible for nonprofit conservation organizations.
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Stewardship Grant lands.
Contact information
For more information, see:
Stewardship grant contact list

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program grantsFederal grants administered with local units of government Stewardship grants

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and Recreational Trails Program (RTP) federal grant programs are administered by DNR in conjunction with the Stewardship local assistance grants. These programs fund projects that provide outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. These federal programs have unique opportunities and requirements, relative to Stewardship grants. Contact a Grant Manager or your Regional Grant Specialist for more information. Both the LWCF and RTP programs pass-through federal funding to state and local partners. Annual availability of grants under these programs depends on the federal budget process. Contact a Grant Manager or your Regional Grant Specialist for more information.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Land and Water Conservation Act, Public Law 88 578, ch. NR 50.06, Wis.

Program goal

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant program was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1965 to develop high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. LWCF grants provide 50% cost-share to state, tribal, and local governments. Since its inception, more than 1800 projects have been completed in Wisconsin with more than $81M in federal LWCF funds.

Eligible applicants

State, tribal, and local governments and school districts are eligible for LWCF grants.

Funding criteria

  • Relationship to the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan
  • Regional or statewide in nature
  • Acquires land where a plan supports need
  • Provides or enhances water-based activity
  • Serves the greatest populations
  • Involves intergovernmental cooperation or donations
  • Supports multiple uses

Eligible projects

LWCF grants support land acquisition and facility development (i.e. construction) projects.

Contact information

For assistance with LWCF grants, contact:

Jennifer Gihring
101 S. Webster St.
P.O. Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
608-264-6138
or your Regional Grant Specialist

Recreational Trails Program

Recreational Trails Program

Public Law 114-94, ch. NR 50.21, Wis. Adm. Code

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds through the transfer of federal gas excise taxes paid on fuel used on off-highway vehicles. These funds are used to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and non-motorized recreational trail uses. This federal program was initially authorized in 1991, re-authorized in 1998 under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA - 21), and re-authorized in 2005 as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or (SAFETEA-LU). In 2012 the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) made RTP funding a set aside referred to as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act for 2013 and 2014, and in 2015 the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act replaced the TAP with a set-aside of funds under the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG) referred to as the TA Set-Aside.

Recreational Trails Program funds may only be used on trails which have been identified in or which further a specific goal of a local, county or state trail plan included or referenced in a statewide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan required by the Federal LWCF Program. Thirty percent of the funds must be used on motorized trail uses, 30 percent on non-motorized trail uses and 40 percent on diversified (multiple) trail uses. See trail use funding category definitions below. The grant cap is ordinarily $45,000 per grant per fiscal year but every third year the grant cap will be increased to $200,000 for two-thirds of the available funding and the remaining one-third will retain the $45,000 grant cap. For 2018, the maximum grant cap will be $200,000.

Contact information

For assistance with RTP grants, contact:
Bobbi Winebar
Department of Natural Resources
2984 Shawano Ave
Green Bay, WI 54313
(920) 662-5175


Eligible applicants

Towns, villages, cities, counties, tribal governing bodies, school districts, state agencies, federal agencies or incorporated organizations are eligible to apply for funds. Incorporated organizations are those that are incorporated under s. 181.32, Wis. Stats., whose primary purpose is promoting, encouraging or engaging in outdoor recreation trails activities.

Eligible projects and funding priorities

Eligible projects in order of priority are:

  1. maintenance and restoration of existing trails;
  2. development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages;
  3. construction of new trails (with certain restrictions on federal lands*); and
  4. acquisition of property for trails.

*Construction of new trails crossing federal lands only where permissible under other law, necessary and required by a statewide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan, approved by the DNR and the administering federal agency and consistent with applicable federal land management plans and policies.

Trail use funding category definitions

Non-motorized (30%)
  1. Non-motorized project for a single use - projects that benefit only one mode of non-motorized recreational trail use, such as pedestrian only or equestrian only; projects serving various pedestrian uses (e.g., walking, hiking, wheelchair use, running, nature interpretation, etc.) constitute a single use; human powered snow uses (e.g., skiing, snowshoeing, etc.) constitute a single use.
  2. Non-motorized diverse use - projects that benefit more than one mode of non-motorized recreational trail use (e.g., walking, biking, skating or pedestrian use) in summer and skiing in the winter.
Motorized (30%)
  1. Motorized project for a single use - projects that benefit only one mode of motorized recreational use (e.g., snowmobile trail grooming). The project may also benefit some non-motorized uses, but the primary intent must be for the benefit of motorized use.
  2. Motorized diverse use - projects that benefit more than one mode of motorized recreational trail use such motorcycle and ATV, ATV use in the summer and snowmobile use in the winter; projects that also benefit some non-motorized uses as long as the primary intent is for the benefit of motorized use.
Diversified (40%)
  1. Non-motorized diverse use (see above under "Non-motorized")
  2. Motorized diverse use (see above under "Motorized")
  3. Diverse use including both motorized and non-motorized uses - projects where the primary intent is for the benefit of both non-motorized and motorized (e.g., the primary beneficiary is not motorized); also includes when the non-motorized and motorized uses are separated by season (e.g., equestrian use in the summer and snowmobile use in the winter). Other examples include a common trailhead project serving separate ATV and bicycle trails.
Last revised: Wednesday February 07 2018