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RECAP: March forum highlights important changes to Legacy grant process

Our March forum featured GMRPTC’s Executive Director Renee Mattson and System Plan Coordinator Joe Czapiewski, who joined GMPT staff to discuss the grant application process for the upcoming funding cycle, which opened on April 1st. The current conservative estimate for FY 2026 is $12 million and will likely increase as the year progresses. In addition to this amount, nearly $2 million may be allotted from funds recouped from FY 2025 awards—$25,000 in uncollected administrative fees is available from the DNR, and $33,000 is available for emerging opportunities, plus $1.8 million in surplus Legacy funds. If the additional $1.8 million or more becomes available through successful legislation, a second round of grant applications will occur. All in all, nearly $16 million in funding could be available for regional parks and trails projects.

Renee and Joe noted that there are new updates to the application process, which can be found in the Application Toolbox section on the GMRPTC website. Be sure to check out the forum recording on the GMPT website for an overview of the updates that are designed to simplify and streamline the application process. The Application Toolbox has all the information needed to submit a good application—including budget templates and resolution language available to download—but should the need arise, the grant coordinators are happy to assist in the process. Reach out to them early to increase the potential to receive the funding requested.

Also new this year is that this funding can be used to cover the cost of the preconstruction development work, including archaeological surveys, SHPO, THPO, and other environmental analyses. For many projects, these activities can be cost-prohibitive due to the upfront timing of payments and the overall rising costs to accomplish projects. These activities would be funded under a separate application up to $50,000 with a 20% match. 

An important aspect of the funding this year is the inclusion of “shovel-ready” details to show the project can be completed in the 3-year grant cycle. The more detailed, the better, as this will show in the scoring of the project when determining which will receive funding. The questions are designed to guide the applicant toward considering all elements ahead of time to ensure the project is feasible.

In summary, when applying for the Legacy grant funding, be sure the project is achievable, develop a solid application, consider the pre-contract requirements like archaeological and environmental aspects, and make sure the proper resolution is prepared by the application deadline. This last item is of utter importance—the resolution MUST be completed by the deadline, or it will be rejected. To ensure that doesn’t happen, the Commission has made all the resources readily available online, so check out the GMRPTC website and turn that trail or park concept into a reality!

If you missed the forum but are interested in this topic, visit the Past Forums page on the GMPT website to catch up on the conversations. The GMPT forums are wonderful platforms to share valuable information, so be sure to stay tuned to upcoming events and mark your calendars! For any questions, please contact