Contributed by the Apple Country Greenway Commission (Henderson County, North Carolina), which was formed in December, 1999 to create a master plan for a greenways system; and the Roanoke Valley, Virginia Greenway Plan.
The greenway funding opportunities cited below are applicable to organizations and agencies throughout the U.S. that are seeking funding. The most common method for funding greenways is to combine local, public sector and private sector funds with funds from state, federal and additional private-sector sources. Many communities involved with greenway implementation are choosing to leverage local money as a match for outside funding sources, in essence multiplying their resources.
Local advocates and government staff should pursue a variety of funding sources for land acquisition and greenway construction. A greenway program that relies on limited funding sources may one day come to a grinding halt should these sources dry up. The following list of sources is divided into:
Bond Referendums for Greenways. Communities across the nation have successfully placed on local ballots propositions to support greenway development. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, NC area passed four consecutive referendums that generated more than $3 million for greenways. Guilford County, NC passed a referendum in 1986 that appropriated $1.6 million for development of a specific greenway corridor. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, a greenway bond referendum was used to fund the first three miles of local greenways. Residents throughout the United States have consistently placed a high value on local greenway development and voted to raise their own taxes in support of greenway implementation.
Greenway Funding through Local Capital Improvement Plans. Perhaps the true measure of local government commitment to greenways is a yearly appropriation for trail development in the Capital Improvements Program. In Raleigh, NC, greenways continue to be built and maintained, year after year, due to a dedicated source of annual funding (administered through the Parks and Recreation Department). In addition, the City of Raleigh’s Real Estate Department has its own line item budget for greenway land acquisition.
Greenway Trust Fund. Another strategy used by several communities is the creation of a trust fund for land acquisition and facility development that is administered by a private greenway advocacy group, or by a local greenway commission. A trust fund can aid in the acquisition of large parcels of high-priority properties that may be lost if not acquired by private sector initiative. Money may be contributed to the trust fund from a variety of sources, including the municipal and county general funds, private grants, and gifts.
Local Private-Sector Funding. Local industries and private businesses may agree to provide support for greenway development through one or more of the following methods:
- Donations of cash to a specific greenway segment
- Donations of services by large corporations to reduce the cost of greenway implementation, including equipment and labor to construct and install elements of a specific greenway
- Reductions in the cost of materials purchased from local businesses that support greenway implementation and can supply essential products for facility development
One example of a successful endeavor of this type is the Swift Creek Recycled Greenway in Cary, NC. A total of $40,000 in donated construction materials and labor made this trail an award-winning demonstration project. This method of raising funds requires a great deal of staff coordination. (Note: Some materials used in the “recycled trail” were considered waste materials by local industries!)
Adopt-A-Trail Programs. These are typically small grant programs that fund new construction, repair/renovation, maps, trail brochures, facilities (bike racks, picnic areas, birding equipment).
State Departments of Transportation. Many states are the local administrators of federal funding from the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) – see more info below, under Federal Funding Sources.
Community Development Block Grants. Through its State CDBG Program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides States with annual direct grants, which they in turn award to smaller communities and rural areas for use in revitalizing neighborhoods, expanding affordable housing and economic opportunities, and/or improving community facilities and services. See more info and link below, under Federal Funding Sources.
State Water Management Funds. Funds established to protect or improve water quality could apply to a greenways/trails project if a strong link exists between the development of a greenway and the adjacent/nearby water quality. Possible uses of these funds include: purchase critical strips of land along rivers and streams for protection which could then also be used for greenways; develop educational materials, displays; or for storm water management.
Greenway Sponsors. A sponsorship program for greenway amenities allows for smaller donations to be received both from individuals and businesses. The program must be well planned and organized, with design standards and associated costs established for each amenity. Project elements that may be funded can include mile markers, call boxes, benches, trash receptacles, entry signage and bollards, and picnic areas.
Volunteer Work. Community volunteers may help with greenway construction, as well as conduct fundraisers. Organizations which might be mobilized for volunteer work include the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Sierra Club, biking and trail clubs, birding clubs, and local civic clubs.
A point in case is the volunteer greenway program in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Greater Cheyenne Greenway has motivated an impressive amount of community support and volunteer work. The program has the unusual problem of having to insist that volunteers wait to begin landscaping the trail until construction was completed. A manual for greenway volunteers was developed in 1994 to guide and regulate volunteer work. The manual includes a description of appropriate volunteer efforts, request forms, waiver and release forms, and a completion form (volunteers are asked to summarize their accomplishments). Written guidelines are also provided for volunteer work in 100-year floodplains.
To better organize volunteer activity, Cheyenne developed an “Adopt-a-Spot” program. Participants who adopt a segment of trail are responsible for periodic trash pick-up, but can also install landscaping, prune trailside vegetation, develop wildlife enhancement projects, and install site amenities. All improvements must be consistent with the greenway development plan and must be approved by the local greenway coordinator. Adopt-a-Spot volunteers are allowed to display their names on a small sign along the adopted section of greenway.
Volunteers included the Boy Scouts of America, the Southeastern Wyoming Mental Health Center, and F. E. Warren Air Force Base. Cheyenne’s Job Training Partnership Program became involved in building trailside benches and picnic tables. School groups raised funds to build trail amenities. Other volunteers participated in a stream bank improvement project, donating labor and materials.
Estate Donations. Wills, estates and trusts may be also dedicated to the appropriate agency for use in developing and/or operating the greenway system.
“Buy-a-Foot” Programs. “Buy-a-Foot” programs have been successful in raising funds and awareness for trail and greenway projects within North Carolina. Under local initiatives, citizens are encouraged to purchase one linear foot of the greenway by donating the cost of construction. An excellent example of a successful endeavor is the High Point Greenway “Buy-a-Foot” campaign, in which linear greenway “feet” were sold at a cost of $25/ foot. Those who donated were given a greenway T-shirt and a certificate. This project provided over $5,000 in funds.
Some Federal programs offer financial aid for projects that aim to improve community infrastructure, transportation, housing and recreation programs. Some of the Federal programs that can be used to support the development of greenway systems include:
The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The primary source of federal funding for greenways is through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). There are many sections of the Act that support the development of bicycle and pedestrian transportation corridors. Those sections that apply to the creation of greenway systems include:
Section 1302 – Symms National Recreational Trails Fund Act (NRTFA): A component of TEA-21, the NRTFA is a funding source to assist with the development of non-motorized and motorized trails. In fiscal year 1994, Congress did not fund this national program, and it has become apparent that this funding source is not as stable as the national trail community once envisioned it. In 1993, Congress appropriated only $7.5 million of a $30 million apportionment. The Act uses funds paid into the Highway Trust Fund from fees on non-highway recreation fuel used by off-road vehicles and camping equipment.
Motorized and non-motorized trail projects receive a 30-percent share of annual appropriations. Forty percent of the appropriation must be spent on projects that accommodate both user groups. States can grant funds to private and public sector organizations. NRTFA projects are 100-percent federally funded during the first three years of the program. Grant recipients must provide a 20-percent match.
Section 1047 – National Scenic Byways Program: This component of TEA-21 is designed to protect and enhance America’s designated scenic roads. Money is available for planning, safety and facility improvements, cultural and historic resource protection, and tourism information signage. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities can be developed in conjunction with scenic roadway projects. Some states with Scenic Byway Programs have developed greenways in conjunction with this initiative.
Section 1008 – Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program: The CMAQ program was created to reduce congestion on local streets and improve air quality. Funds are available to urban communities designated as “non- attainment” areas for air quality, meaning the air is more polluted than federal standards allow. Since the Apple Country region is not currently classified as a non-attainment area for air quality, it is not eligible for this funding. However, this funding source should be considered in the event that the air quality in the region deteriorates. The program is administered by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. A grant recipient must demonstrate that its project will improve air quality throughout the community. Funding requires a 20-percent local match.
Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers financial grants to communities for neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and improvements to community facilities and services, especially in low and moderate-income areas. Several communities have used HUD funds to develop greenways, including the Boscobel Heights’ “Safe Walk” Greenway in Nashville, Tennessee.
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Grants. This Federal funding source was established in 1965 to provide “close-to-home” park and recreation opportunities to residents throughout the United States. Money for the fund comes from the sale or lease of nonrenewable resources, primarily federal offshore oil and gas leases and surplus federal land sales. LWCF grants can be used by communities to build a variety of parks and recreation facilities, including trails and greenways.
LWCF funds are distributed by the National Park Service to the states annually. Communities must match LWCF grants with 50-percent of the local project costs through in-kind services or cash. All projects funded by LWCF grants must be used exclusively for recreation purposes, in perpetuity.
Conservation Reserve Program. The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, provides payments to farm owners and operators to place highly erodible or environmentally sensitive landscapes into a 10-15 year conservation contract. The participant, in return for annual payments during this period, agrees to implement a conservation plan approved by the local conservation district for converting sensitive lands to less intensive uses. Individuals, associations, corporations, estates, trusts, cities, counties and other entities are eligible for this program. Funds from this program can be used to fund the maintenance of open space and non-public-use greenways, along bodies of water and ridgelines.
Wetlands Reserve Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides direct payments to private landowners who agree to place sensitive wetlands under permanent easements. This program can be used to fund the protection of open space and greenways within riparian corridors.
Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention (Small Watersheds) Grants. The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides funding to state and local agencies or nonprofit organizations authorized to carry out, maintain and operate watershed improvements involving less than 250,000 acres. The NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to eligible projects to improve watershed protection, flood prevention, sedimentation control, public water-based fish and wildlife enhancements, and recreation planning. The NRCS requires a 50-percent local match for public recreation, and fish and wildlife projects.
Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program. The USDA provides small grants of up to $10,000 to communities for the purchase of trees to plant along city streets and for greenways and parks. To qualify for this program, a community must pledge to develop a street-tree inventory, a municipal tree ordinance, a tree commission, committee or department, and an urban forestry-management plan.
Small Business Tree-Planting Program. The Small Business Administration provides small grants of up to $10,000 to purchase trees for planting along streets and within parks or greenways. Grants are used to develop contracts with local businesses for the plantings.
Economic Development Grants for Public Works and Development of Facilities. The U. S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA), provides grants to states, counties and cities designated as redevelopment areas by EDA for public works projects that can include developing trails and greenway facilities. There is a 30-percent local match required, except in severely distressed areas where federal contribution can reach 80 percent.
National Recreational Trails Program. These grants are available to government and non-profit agencies, for amounts ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, for the building of a trail or piece of a trail. It is a reimbursement grant program (sponsor must fund 100% of the project up front) and requires a 20% local match. This is an annual program, with an application deadline at the end of January. The available funds are split such that 30% goes towards motorized trails, 30% to non-motorized trails, and 40% is discretionary for trail construction.
Design Arts Program. The National Endowment for the Arts provides grants to states and local agencies, individuals and nonprofit organizations for projects that incorporate urban design, historic preservation, planning, architecture, landscape architecture and other community improvement activities, including greenway development. Grants to organizations and agencies must be matched by a 50-percent local contribution. Agencies can receive up to $50,000.
Many communities have solicited greenway funding from a variety of private foundations and other conservation-minded benefactors. Some grants are:
American Greenways Eastman Kodak Awards. The Conservation Fund’s American Greenways Program has teamed with the Eastman Kodak Corporation and the National Geographic Society to award small grants ($250 to $2000) to stimulate the planning, design and development of greenways.
REI Environmental Grants. Recreational Equipment Incorporated awards grants to nonprofit organizations interested in protecting and enhancing natural resources for outdoor recreation. The company calls on its employees to nominate organizations for these grants, ranging from $500 to $8,000, which can be used for the following:
- Protect lands and waterways and make these resources accessible to more people
- Better utilize or preserve natural resources for recreation
- Increase access to outdoor activities
- Encourage involvement in muscle-powered recreation
- Promote safe participation in outdoor muscle-powered recreation, and proper care for outdoor resources
Coors Pure Water 2000 Grants. Coors Brewing Company and its affiliated distributors provide funding and in-kind services to grassroots organizations that are working to solve local, regional and national water-related problems. Coors provides grants, ranging from a few hundred dollars to $50,000, for projects such as river cleanups, aquatic habitat improvements, water quality monitoring, wetlands protection, pollution prevention, water education efforts, groundwater protection, water conservation and fisheries.
World Wildlife Fund Innovative Grants Program. This organization awards small grants to local, regional and statewide nonprofit organizations to help implement innovative strategies for the conservation of natural resources. Grants are offered to support projects that accomplish one or more of the following: (1) conserve wetlands; (2) protect endangered species; (3) preserve migratory birds; (4) conserve coastal resources; and (5) establish and sustain protected natural areas, such as greenways.
Innovative grants can help pay for the administrative costs for projects including planning, technical assistance, legal and other costs to facilitate the acquisition of critical lands; retaining consultants and other experts; and preparing visual presentations and brochures or other conservation activities. The maximum award for a single grant is $10,000.
Bikes Belong. Bikes Belong Coalition is sponsored by members of the American Bicycle Industry. The grant program is a national discretionary program with a small budget, to help communities build TEA-21-funded projects. They like to fund high-profile projects and like regional coalitions. An application must be supported by the local bicycle dealers (letters of support should be attached). Bikes Belong also offers advice and information on how to get more people on bikes. Government and non-profit agencies are eligible and no match is required. The maximum amount for a grant proposal is $10,000. Applications may be submitted at any time and are reviewed as they are received.
Steelcase Foundation. Steelcase Foundation grants are restricted to locally sponsored projects in areas where there are Steelcase Inc. manufacturing plants. In general, Steelcase does not wish to be the sole funder supporting a program. Grants are also only made to non-profit organizations. It does support educational and environmental projects, and is particularly interested in helping the disadvantaged, disabled, young and elderly improve the quality of their lives. Applications may be submitted anytime and are considered by the Trustees four times a year.
Wal-Mart Foundation. This foundation supports local community and environmental activities and educational programs for children (among other things). An organization needs to work with the local store manager to discuss application. Wal-Mart Foundation only funds 501(c)3 organizations.