Off-highway vehicle grants-in-aid (GIA)

Minnesota's Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trails Assistance Program, popularly known as Grant-in-Aid (GIA), is a cost-share program first authorized in 1984. The program facilitates development and maintenance of trails for use by All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), Off-Highway Motorcycles (OHMs), and Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) at the initiative of enthusiast groups or clubs, with the support and participation of local government sponsors.

The program is funded by vehicle registration and trail pass fees, plus a percentage of the state non-highway gas tax from each of the motorized groups. (The percentage of gas tax varies for each user group and is established by Minnesota Statute Chapter 296A.18).

All aspects of OHV trail development and maintenance are eligible to receive GIA funds, including project administration, site planning, trail improvements, land acquisition for trail development, and trail maintenance.

Program changes

After several years of discussions, the Minnesota OHV GIA program is improving! You will see new forms, a new manual, new opportunities for funding and improved reimbursement rates. The DNR held four informational webinars in August and September 2023 explaining the changes. Webinar recording.


Why is the program changing?

Minnesota's OHV community continues to grow. As it grows, demands on the GIA program grow. The changes to the program will help future growth of the program while ensuring existing trails are able to be maintained.

How were the changes identified?

A group consisting of DNR Parks and Trails Division staff, local government sponsors and clubs in the GIA program met several times between 2018 and 2023 to identify challenges and provide suggestions on how to improve the system. Based on these conversations, the DNR developed six improvements to the program.

What is not changing?

Much of the program will remain the same. The program still requires clubs to match GIA funding in most circumstances and still operates on a reimbursement basis. New trails will still need to go through the seven step review process, and maintenance applications are still due on November 30.

What is changing?

New forms have been created that will ask for more information than the old forms, and are now specific to certain circumstances (e.g., new trails have a dedicated form and maintenance applications have a dedicated form). By asking for this information upfront, clubs and sponsors will need to provide less clarification as projects move through the review process. Additionally, we have identified new opportunities for funding, which include early coordination/Step 0 funding, winter grooming funding (ATV), early season funding and capital trail improvements. Each type of funding will have a specific amount of the GIA allocation to ensure adequate funding across the board. Reimbursement rates are also changing to reflect inflationary increases. Finally, DNR has developed a new user-friendly program manual.

Why so many forms?

One issue identified is multiple types of projects using the same forms. This has created confusion from clubs, sponsors and DNR staff as to what information should or should not be included on the form. By creating several new forms, we are able to get accurate and adequate information for the proposal at hand. This should reduce the repetitive clarifying communication between the DNR and club/sponsor, which will make the project review more efficient.

How does this impact my current grant?

If you have a trail currently in the OHV GIA program, you may begin using the increased reimbursement rates immediately, but still need to work within the budget of your current grant. When developing your maintenance request for next year, be sure to use the updated reimbursement amounts. You will start seeing the changes with any new grants you apply for.

Does this mean I will be getting more or less funding?

The new program will not have a direct impact on your overall funding. However, how you receive it may be different. Major projects that previously were part of your yearly maintenance application may now be stand alone projects using capital improvement funding. You may also get funding at different times in the year like early season opener funds available in the spring.

What are Trail Management Objectives (TMOs)?

Trail Management Objectives are a set of documented standards outlining the vision and goals of a trail, which allow for consistent maintenance and management of the trail. TMOs provide a consistent message to current and future trail managers, trail monitors (such as Trail Ambassadors) and the public as to what to expect when visiting the trail. Although a full trail system may have overarching TMOs, specific sections of the trail may have their own unique TMOs.

Whom do I contact with additional questions?

If you have additional questions, please reach out to your local Parks and Trails area supervisor, regional OHV specialist, or OHV Program Consultant Joe Unger: at 651-259-5279 or [email protected].

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