JCTRA won a $30,000 RCO grant!

JCTRA won a $30,000 RCO grant!


08/02/2012 JCTRA won an RCO/RTP Maintenance and Operations grant for $30,000!

Strangely enough this was a big surprise as we applied for this grant almost a year and a half ago! We did not win the grant at that time but were put on an alternate list....and as it turns out the feds let a little more money out, so we got it!

This is great news as it allows us to use this grant money for our normal trails maintenance efforts and save the money we have in the bank for building new trails. The M&O grant money cannot be used for new trails building, only maintenance.

As part of this grant we'll be buying a new Polaris 6X6. This much needed piece of equipment will replace our oldest unit. The new machine also has a bigger engine and enough power and traction to pull the fully loaded ATV wagon dump trailer. That is a lot of rock hauling capability! The new 6X6 will also be retrofit with the steel dump bed and electric dump off of our oldest 6x6. We will probably hold off buying the new 6x6 until after we build up a decent amount of matching funds (which come from our volunteer hours and equipment rentals) and after the Handover Scrambles in January. As with all grant purchases we have to buy the item(s) and then get reimbursed for them which takes about a month.

A key thing to remember is that the way these grants work is that the club must provide matching funds in our case $10,000 worth. Those funds will primarily come from the volunteer hours which we put in at our work parties. Each hour is billed at around $13/hour, and more for skilled hours like operating the excavator or a skid steer. We also get to bill for the money we spend on equipment rentals. On our last grant in the end we did not have to spend any cash (that we didn't get reimbursed for) and that is always the goal. That is what your volunteer labor is worth!!

The one hitch is that we currently have an obligation donate 66% of our volunteer hours to help the DNR make their match for their NOVA M&O grant. That grant expires in June of 2013. Our grant will continue on until December of we will have plenty of time after the DNR NOVA grant expires to complete ours. Based on past performance this should not be a problem at all.

For those who are not aware this is an RTP (Recreational Trails Program) grant. That is a federal grant which comes from Federal Highway Trust Fund, and represents a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use: fuel used for off-highway recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-highway light trucks.

In Washington the money is given to the RCO (Recreation and Conservation Organization) which distributes the money to various clubs and organizations via a competitive selection system in which points are awarded based on level of need, past performance, ability to manage the grant, the percentage of the money awarded that makes it to where it is supposed to go (in our case on the ground) and other scoring factors.

We generally score very high in all factors of this system except one and that is the amount of match we able to provide. Almost every group that scored higher than us had the ability (budget) to provide huge percentages of matching funds, most were 100% match and on several occasions more. The minimum required matching fund is 20%, however about 30% used to be the standard necessary to win a grant. Other groups are basically allotting their entire trail budgets (some times hundreds of thousands of dollars) as "match" in order to score higher on this one category. Unfortunately this one category is enough points to completely tilt the scores in their favor. That is the only reason we didn't win our grant in the first a matter of fact we would have won it easily as we scored very high in almost every other category. It's a game that small clubs like ours who really need the money are being priced out of. I have brought this up to various people at the RCO and I hope at some point the issue is dealt with to bring fairness back into the system.

We'll begin executing out grant about the end of August! As always your volunteer help is 100% percent necessary to make this fly. Please do what you can to come to a few work parties and keep your trails open and in a safe and usable condition.