Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance

The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program implements the natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation mission of the National Park Service in communities across America.

RTCA will help create local, regional and state networks of parks, rivers, trails, greenways and open spaces

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by collaborating with community partners and National Park areas in every state.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Develop new trails and greenways; conserve and restore river resources, access and views; convert abandoned railways to multi-purpose trails; promote and develop systems of trails and greenways; preserve open space; and establish new conservation organizations and alliances.

Examples of Rivers and Trails projects include: (1) The Lakes-To-Locks Water Trail in Puget Sound includes over 100 miles of shoreline and 100 launch and landing sites.

The Rivers & Trails Program worked with the Washington Water Trails Association to build a broad-based constituency, to provide assistance in trail development, marketing, and map publication, and to help empower our partners to see their project goals come to life.

(2) In New York, a 15-mile multi-use trail is being planned to connect four state parks and the communities of Ithaca and Trumansburg.

Rivers & Trails has facilitated community involvement in the planning for the Black Diamond Trail, one success of which was to organize a Community Volunteer Work Day bringing together a local hospital, college students, youth groups and neighbors.

(3) Along the Los Angeles River, Rivers & Trails worked with Los Angeles County to complete a master plan which has spun off multiple open space projects.

For example, the opening of the one-mile Los Feliz section was celebrated by volunteers, neighborhood residents, and representatives of government associated with the project.

The Los Angeles River offers an example of an effort enjoying lasting success.

(4) Rivers & Trails Philadelphia based staff developed one of our first partnerships with the health care community in a project known as Wyoming Valley Wellness Trails in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania.

The project focused on the development of a sustainable partnership to implement a trail system in a region with a strong community health initiative and provided opportunities for public participation through workshops and information meetings.

Agency - Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior protects and provides access to the Nation's natural and cultural heritage, including responsibilities to Indian tribes and island communities. Departmental goals include resource protection and usage, overseeing recreational opportunities, serving communities and excellence in management.

Office - Applicants are requested to communicate with National Park Service Regional Offices.

Refer to Catalog Appendix IV or the web site, http://www.nps.gov/rtca, for addresses.

Program Accomplishments

NPS Rivers and Trails has played a major role in community conservation and recreation through citizen-led, partnership approaches to river protection, trail development and land conservation.

Uses and Use Restrictions


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Private nonprofit organizations and Federal, State and local government agencies.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Private nonprofit organizations and Federal, State and local government agencies.


None. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Program advice and information is available from the appropriate NPS Regional Office or the National Office.

Consultation with an RTCA staff before an application for assistance is made helps clarify RTCA roles and contributions and also helps identify how the selection criteria might apply to your conservation and outdoor recreation goals.

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No.

A-102 and E.O.


Application Procedures

Information is available electronically at http://www.nps.gov/rtca or you may contact the appropriate regional RTCA program leader. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular Nos. A-102 and A-110.

Award Procedures

Decisions are based upon adherence to program criteria and the level of available staff time.


Proposals should be submitted by August 1 for the following fiscal year.


Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, 16 U.S.C. 1271-1287 as amended, Public Law 90-542; National Trails System Act, 16 U.S.C. 1241 as amended, Public Law 90-543; Outdoor Recreation Act of 1963, 16 U.S.C. 4601-3, Public Law 88-29; Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 797-828c.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Generally about 4 months.




Assistance is for one year and may be renewed for a second year if warranted.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

No fixed amount. Applications must demonstrate commitment by interested public agencies and non-profit organizations.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Generally 1 to 2 years.

Post Assistance Requirements







Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $7,697,000; FY 08 est $7,600,000; and FY 09 est not available.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

None. Staff assistance only.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Project reports are available from NPS offices and the Web.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Applicants are requested to communicate with National Park Service Regional Offices. Refer to Catalog Appendix IV or the web site, http://www.nps.gov/rtca, for addresses.

Headquarters Office

Chief, Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, N.W., (ORG CODE 2235), Washington, DC 20240. Telephone: (202) 354-6900. Program inquiries should be directed to Charlie Stockman at E-mail: Charlie_Stockman@nps.gov.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

(1) Initial project partners are identified and a lead project partner is designated. Note: The lead partner may be a federal agency, state or local agency, tribe, non- profit organization, or citizens' group. Federal agencies, including the National Park Service, maybe the lead partner only in collaboration with a nonfederal partner. (2) Project has specific, partner- defined goals and anticipated measurable results that are: clearly stated; support the National Park Service mission and RTCA mission and strategic plan goals; protect important natural resources or enhance outdoor recreation opportunities; and will have results that occur within an appropriate timeframe. (3) There is a commitment by lead project partners to significant public involvement and outreach in the project. (4) Roles and contributions of initial project partners, including RTCA, are identified. There is a commitment by initial project partners to cooperate and to provide or obtain the resources necessary to implement the project. (5) There is evidence of broad support for the project. Preference is given to a project that also: (a) provides physical connections among resources; (b) includes an NPS area as an actively involved project partner; (c) includes both natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation; (d) partners with a health organization.

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