Local Trail Connections Program

This program provides grants to local units of government to promote relatively short trail connections between where people live and desirable locations, not to develop significant new trails. Funding for this grant program is from "In Lieu Of" lottery proceeds. This program is established in Minnesota Statutes 85.019.

Eligible projects

Eligible projects include acquisition and development of trail facilities. Projects must result in a trail linkage that is immediately available for use by the general public. Trail linkages include connecting where people live (e.g. residential areas within cities, entire communities) and significant public resources (e.g. historical areas, open space, parks and/or other trails). Acquisition of trail right-of-way is eligible only when proposed in conjunction with trail development. Acquisition projects require a perpetual easement for recreational purposes. Development projects require a 20 year maintenance commitment by the project sponsor. Projects inside state park boundaries, state recreation areas, on state trail corridors and elements of the Regional Open Space System in the Twin Cities Metro System are not eligible.

Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants include counties, cities, and townships.

Level of assistance

Grants are reimbursement based up to 75 percent of the total eligible project costs, and recipients must provide a non-state cash match of at least 25 percent. Other state funds or grants, such as Parks and Trails Legacy Grants, or Metropolitan Council Grants cannot match these grants. Project costs must be incurred and paid before reimbursement can be made. Project costs become eligible for reimbursement once a contract agreement is established between the DNR and the grantee.

The minimum grant request is $5,000, and the maximum grant award is $250,000.

Grant funding available

Funding available for FY 2025 is a portion of $1.1 million from “In Lieu Of” lottery proceeds available for three Park and Trail grant programs. Additional state Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars may be recommended by the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). Other state funding may be available but is subject to Legislative approval. Final amounts available will not be known until after the legislative session ends.

Funding priorities

Priority for trail project funding will be given to projects that provide significant connectivity, will meet the needs and interests of future generations and diverse communities, provide an opportunity to connect underserved communities to significant public resources and provide for a unique and interesting connection to the outdoors. Considerations also include trail length, expected amount and type of use, and quality and attractiveness of natural and cultural resources.

Grant awards

The Department of Natural Resources will review and rank applications during the spring of 2024. Grant awards will be announced in the summer of 2024.

Funded grants

Project period

Projects cannot begin until all requested final documentation has been submitted and an agreement between the applicant and the state has been signed. Funded projects must begin promptly after an agreement has been signed. All work funded with FY 2025 appropriations must be completed no later than June 30, 2026.

How to apply

The completed application is due March 29, 2024. If you would like feedback on your application, please submit it by March 8, 2024. Grant application materials are linked below.

Contact information

Dan Golner, Grants Specialist Coordinator, 651-259-5599
[email protected]

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Parks and Trails Division
500 Lafayette Road, Box 39
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Back to top