Water Trails & Paddling


The following websites are grants and technical assistance that communities can apply for to help fund, create and plan a water trail.

Resilient Communities Program
The NFWF and Wells Fargo Resilient Communities Program provides funding for environmental challenges by allowing communities to implement resiliency projects. Emphasis is placed on traditionally undeserved populations in vulnerable areas. Grants under this program will be offered yearly. Find more information and apply here http://www.nfwf.org/ResilientCommunities/Pages/home.aspx

Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance
 Program (RTCA)
The National Park Service’s RTCA program provides technical assistance to locally-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects. Applications due Aug 1.  Apply Here https://www.nps.gov/orgs/rtca/apply.htm

Recreational Trails Program (RTP)
The RTP provides funding of trail construction, trailhead construction, trail maintenance, assessment of trail conditions, or trail property acquisition. Grant recipients must match the grant by providing 20% of the project cost.
For more information and to apply visit https://gastateparks.org/RTP.

Dan MacIntyre, who served on the board, has provided additional information below:

Land and Water Conservation Fund: Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP)
On June 16, 2014, the national competitive park grant program sponsored by the Department of Interior, National Park Service released guidelines for a new nation-wide pilot grant program called the “Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program”.  The program is for projects that will create or reinvigorate parks and other outdoor recreation spaces in ways that will encourage people, especially youth, to connect or re-connect with the outdoors. Priority will be given to projects located in urbanized communities that are economically disadvantaged, and are underserved in terms of outdoor recreation resources.  Each state is allowed to submit a maximum of two applications.
Learn more and apply. Questions can be directed to antoinette.norfleet@gadnr.org or 770-389-7286.

Georgia’s Section 319(h) Nonpoint Source Implementation Grant
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD) receives an annual Nonpoint Source Implementation Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) under Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act to help prevent, control and/or abate nonpoint source pollution in support of Georgia’s Nonpoint Source Management Program. GAEPD then conducts a competitive process to fund eligible projects that will lead to direct reductions in pollutant loads and measurable water quality improvements in impaired waters throughout the State. A Federal cost-share policy associated with the grant requires a maximum of 60% Federal dollars and a minimum of 40% non-federal cash or in-kind match toward the total project cost. Currently, the maximum Federal award to any individual project is $400,000, which requires a minimum local match of $266,667, resulting in a total of $666,667. There is no minimum Federal award amount that a project can receive. The maximum duration of any individual grant is limited to three years to achieve the project goals and objectives.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: Public agencies such as local, regional, or State governments; authorities that operate public service or delivery programs (e.g. sewer, water); regional commissions; agricultural conservation councils and county extensions; and school and university systems. State law prohibits private or non-profit companies or organizations from receiving Section 319(h) funds directly; but, these groups are encouraged to form partnerships with public agencies to develop implementation projects and apply for grants. Learn more and apply!

Tourism Cares Worldwide Grant Program
Tourism Cares is a nonprofit organization, funded primarily by the tourism industry, which is dedicated to preserving the travel experience for future generations. The Tourism Cares Worldwide Grant Program provides grants to tourism-related nonprofit organizations throughout the world. Primary consideration is given to projects that focus on capital improvements that conserve, preserve, or restore sites of exceptional cultural, historic, or natural significance. An additional focus area is the education of local host communities and the traveling public about the preservation of exceptional sites. The program strives for a balanced distribution of grants to U.S. and non-U.S. organizations. The final application deadline for 2011 is July 1. Visit the Tourism Cares website for eligibility information and online application instructions.

EPA Requests Proposals for Urban Waters Small Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expects to award between $1.8 to $3.8 million in funding for projects across the country to help restore urban waters by improving water quality and supporting community revitalization. The funding is part of EPA’s Urban Waters program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve, and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land. Healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance educational, recreational and employment opportunities in nearby communities.

The goal of the Urban Waters Small Grants program is to fund research, studies, training, and demonstration projects that will advance the restoration of urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities such as public health, social and economic opportunities, general livability and environmental justice for residents. Examples of projects eligible for funding include:
•     Education and training for water quality improvement or green infrastructure jobs
•     Public education about ways to reduce water pollution
•     Local water quality monitoring programs
•     Engaging diverse stakeholders to develop local watershed plans
•     Innovative projects that promote local water quality and community revitalization goals

Information about Urban Waters Small Grants including the Request for Proposal (RFP) and registration links for the webinars is available at https://www.epa.gov/urbanwaters/urban-waters-small-grants.

BoatUS Foundation Grassroots Grants
Over the past 25 years the BoatUS Foundation Grassrooots Grants Program has awarded over a million dollars to small, local nonprofit organizations, boating clubs and student groups. The Foundation is looking for creative and innovative projects that promote safe and clean boating on your local waterway. Past topics have ranged from PSAs on the effects of boating under the influence to hands-on education about the effects of marine debris. The application cycle closes on January 15th. To stay up to date on their Grants program, sign up for their e-newsletter or follow them on social media. Applications are now available.

If you have any questions regarding this program, please email the Grant Administrator, or call (800) 245-2628 ext. 8354.

KEEN Effect Giveaway
KEEN has launched ‘The KEEN Effect’ – a way for you to help fund projects designed to get people outside and responsibly enjoying the outdoors. Help them distribute $100,000 in funds by taking part in the KEEN Effect.

The KEEN Effect supports projects and initiatives around the world that result in an increase of responsible outdoor participation.  Approximately 25 non-profit organizations around the world will be granted a total of $100,000 to bring their projects to life. Applications are only being accepted from tax exempt, not for profit organizations.


  1. Projects must increase responsible outdoor participation as a way to work towards building a strong community.
  2. Projects should be innovative and creative.
  3. Projects should have clear goals and measurable objectives.
  4. Projects that introduce new audiences to the outdoors through responsible outdoor participation will receive special consideration.
  5. Project leads must be willing to interact with KEEN online and should leverage social media technology as appropriate.
  6. Project leads should be capable of working collaboratively with KEEN throughout the program process and project reports must include a minimum of five high resolution photos.

Learn more and apply.

American Canoe Association & L.L.Bean – Club Fostered Stewardship Grant
Since 2002, the ACA has partnered with L.L. Bean to sponsor the Club Fostered Stewardship (CFS) Program. The CFS Program provides funding to local and regional paddling clubs, conservation organizations and watershed groups that undertake stewardship projects on waterways in their area. The purpose of the program is to encourage paddling clubs to take an active role in protecting and improving the nation’s rivers, lakes and coastlines.

Past projects receiving CFS grants include:

  • Removing heavy debris and trash from rivers
  • Improving access for local paddlers
  • Establishing water trails
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Environmentally-sensitive woody debris removal
  • Riparian buffer restoration and improvement
  • Environmental education and outreach programs

For more information visit the ACA L.L Bean Club Fostered Stewardship Grant Webpage.

The North Face’s Explore Fund Grant-Giving Program
The Explore Fund aims to inspire and enable the next generation of explorers by supporting organizations that connect children with nature. The Explore Fund supports organizations that encourage youth outdoor participation, focusing primarily on:

  • Creating more connections of children to nature
  • Increasing access to both front and backcountry recreation
  • Providing experiential education for both personal and environmental health

For more information about grant guidelines and selection criteria, please visit the Explore Fund website.

Paddle Nation Project Grants
Outdoor Nation recognizes that sometimes the smallest awards can make the largest differences. The Paddle Nation Project will award grants up to $2,500 that are designed to give organizations the resources and funding needed to bring their innovative ideas to life.

This funding opportunity supports pioneering projects and initiatives that are youth-developed and that result in increased paddling participation. Projects should reinforce theidea that recreational paddling is one of the most accessible and impactful ways in which young Americans are introduced to the outdoors.


  1. Projects must increase participation in recreational paddling activities among youth and young adults.
  2. Projects should use paddling as a way to educate participants and provide them with the skills that they’ll enjoy for a lifetime.
  3. Projects should have a local outdoor retailer sponsor involved that is able to offer program support, promotion, and/or partnership.
  4. Project outcomes must include a minimum of 5 high-resolution photos and a 1- to 3-minute video highlighting project scope.
  5. Projects must use grant funding for on-the-ground program needs rather than operating or salary costs.


  1. Projects should be innovative and creative.
  2. Projects should utilize social media channels as a way to reach additional audiences and engage with participants.
  3. Special consideration will be given to projects that involve or engage:
    • a National Water Trail
    • a Wild and Scenic River
    • family or multi-generational populations
    • urban or underserved communities

Learn more and apply here.

Georgia Tourism Product Development Program
In an effort to promote tourism in Georgia, two divisions of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), the Office of Tourism Product Development and the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA), have partnered to offer the Tourism Product Development Agreement (TPD). The TPD program is designed to financially support sustainable tourism development activities at the local level that maintain and/or create jobs, attract tourists (visitors from outside of the community), and enhance the tourist’s experience.

TPD support will go to projects that are near completion in planning and/or execution. TPD funds are not meant to jumpstart a project, but rather complete a project. Projects must be completed by June 1, 201X.

Complete applications must be submitted by June 30, 201X, at midnight via e-Grant. Applications will only be accepted from city or county local governments or authorities, as defined in the Official Code of Georgia (OCGA) statutes or the Constitution. TPD announcements will be made in September 201X.

Learn more and apply here.


Did You Know GRN has a Entire Section on our Website Dedicated to Grant Resources?
Every organization and water trail needs funding and GRN has an awesome Grant Resources page to help you find the perfect grant that matches the mission of your organization and specifically for the development of your Water Trail.

For resources about how to apply for grants, take a look at our fundraising resources.

126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3, Athens, Georgia 30605 | (706) 549-4508 (phone) | info@garivers.org