National Forest System Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program
The National Forest System Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program (NFSTS or Trail Stewardship Partner Grant Program) is a joint partnership between National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance (NWSA), the USDA Forest Service and on the ground trail stewardship groups across the nation. This funding program is broadly focused on engaging non-profit partners and volunteers in trail stewardship projects across all National Forest System Trails. To ensure broad representation and equitable distribution of funds from this program to support a variety of trail user groups, we collaborate with American Trails, American Hiking Society, Back Country Horsemen of America, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and the American Motorcyclist Association by inviting a representative from each group to participate equally in the selection of the projects we award with funding. The grants support organizations leading trail maintenance efforts in National Forests across the U.S.
2024 Trail Stewardship Partner Grants*
Application Period Opens: Currently closed, Opens March 2024
Application Period Closes: April 2024
Funding Available: TBD - funding available is contingent on the overall federal budget process
Funding Amounts: generally $2,000 - $30,000 per organization
Project Period: Projects completed between May 1 – December 31, 2024
*You do not need to be a NWSA Member Organization to apply but membership is encouraged. Join our growing stewardship community by becoming a member organization.
The NFSTS Funding Program is made possible through the National Forest System Trail Stewardship Act of 2016. The Act significantly increases the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance to aid in addressing backlogged projects such as signage upgrades, trail clearing, reroutes, bridge and structure repair, and improvements to drainage. In addition to supporting completion of much needed trail maintenance projects, this program engages thousands of volunteers and adds significant leverage to Federal dollars. As of 2023, the program has supported maintenance and repair of 10,215 miles of trail, has engaged thousands of partner staff and volunteers in 393,000 hours of maintenance work, and has leveraged federal dollars with $6.25M in cash and in-kind support at a ratio of 7:1. Link to a flyer with these stats HERE.
The National Forest System Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program is intended to encourage and support volunteer and stewardship group trail maintenance accomplishments and trail deferred maintenance backlog on the National Forest trail system. This program directly supports the implementation of the National Trails Strategy, which has a goal of doubling volunteer trail work in the next decade. The ideal project proposal will engage volunteers in the accomplishment of trail maintenance over the course of a field season over a broad area of a District or Forest.
- Must be a 501(c)(3) organization in good standing to qualify for funding.
- Projects must occur on National Forest System Trails. These include motorized and non-motorized trails, both within and outside of wilderness.
- Applicants must demonstrate collaboration and partnership with local Forest Service personnel - a letter of recommendation is required.
- 10% match requirement (can be combination of non-federal cash and in-kind contributions).
- Maximum award amount is $30,000.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion components are strongly encouraged.
Application materials will be available when the application period opens. Please check back in early 2024.
Read about the results of our 2023 Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program HERE or see statistics and a list of the organizations we funded on this FACT SHEET. You can also view information on past award cycles HERE.
Trail Stewardship Partner Grant Resources
- 10 Strategies for a Successful Trail Application
- NWSA Webinar: NWSA 2023 Funding Programs
- Powerpoint: NWSA 2023 Funding Programs
- National Wilderness Skills Institute (NWSI) training video: Wilderness Stewardship Performance - Trails
- Quick Guide to Invoices for Trail Partner Funding Program
Questions about the National Forest Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program can be addressed to Joelle Marier, Executive Director at [email protected].
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