National Forest System Trail Stewardship Grants Awarded for 2024

The National Forest System Trail Stewardship Partnership Funding Program (NFSTS or Trail Partners grant program) awarded a total of $215,000 to support 16 trail projects in U.S. Forest Service regions across the nation. Nine of the awards will benefit projects on trails open to mountain biking this field season. These mountain bike friendly projects received $98,175 for maintenance and repair of trails and facilities over roughly 716 miles of trails. Each of these projects support trail maintenance and improvement that is led by dedicated volunteers bringing vital capacity to trail stewardship, and leveraging federal dollars.

The Trail Partners grant program is a joint partnership between the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and the U.S. Forest Service, in collaboration with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), American Trails, American Hiking Society, Back Country Horsemen of America, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, and the American Motorcyclist Association. The grants support organizations leading trail maintenance efforts in National Forests and distribute funds across the trails community, both geographically and by recreation community.

“IMBA values the opportunity to work with the U.S. Forest Service and to leverage volunteer trail maintenance with this federal grant funding,” said IMBA Executive Director David Wiens. “Trails serve as effective tools for conservation and wildlife habitat protection and are truly common ground for public access to outdoor recreation. Trail stewardship is a long standing value of the mountain biking community so it is great to partner again with these national trails organizations to raise the profile of the many volunteers across the country doing great work.”  

This field season, two IMBA Local Member Organizations received grants. 

Mountain Bike the Tetons (Jackson Hole, WY) was awarded $16,300 to clear and improve trails in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Notably, Mountain Bike the Tetons demonstrated the strong collaboration with partner organizations in the area, serving and representing diverse communities. This investment, and the investment of the 200 volunteers from diverse trail user groups averaging over 1000 hours of volunteer time each year, will improve 104 miles of trails in Idaho and Wyoming.

Cloud City Wheelers (Leadville, CO) received $16,900 for protecting and maintaining trails in the Pike-San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron-Comanche National Grasslands. The funds will be used for conservation and deferred trail maintenance efforts across over 72 miles in the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and Colorado Fourteeners priority areas.  This investment will leverage the work of 50 dedicated volunteers averaging over 600 volunteer hours each year. 

“The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance values ongoing partnership with the USDA Forest Service and our national trails community to get much-needed funding on the ground for critical trail maintenance projects that increase access, engage the public, promote sustainable use, and stretch federal dollars,” said Joelle Marier, Executive Director of National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance. “I am continually impressed by the energy, dedication, and passion every single applicant brings to public lands stewardship. This year our partners really brought the fire, leveraging federal dollars at an 8:1 ratio. I am particularly grateful for the ongoing support from our collaborating organizations whose reviewers contribute many hours of their valuable time year to year to represent their communities and help select the best and most diverse projects.” 

Chad Schneckenburger, USDA Forest Service Acting National Trail Program Manager adds that, “Investing in the Trail Stewardship Partner Funding program has proved to be an excellent way to help actualize the vision and meet the goals of the 10 Year Trails Shared Stewardship Challenge —to increase the collective capacity to care for National Forest System trails while simultaneously increasing the number of trail miles that are well-designed, well-maintained, and well suited to support recreation use today and into the future. These grants encourage partners, volunteers, and the general public to become engaged with their National Forest System trails and provide an excellent return-on-investment for the American taxpayer.” 

The Trail Partners grant program is made possible through the National Forest System Trail Stewardship Act of 2016 which IMBA and partnering outdoor recreation and trails organizations helped to pass. The Act significantly increases the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance to aid in addressing backlogged projects such as signage upgrades, trail clearing, reroutes, bridge and structure repair, and improvements to drainage. The funding comes from dedicated USFS funds, demonstrating the significance the agency gives to the program. 

IMBA congratulates all the local stewardship groups and mountain bike organizations that received grantsCongratulations to all of the organizations receiving funding this year:  
Access Fund
Backcountry Horsemen San Joaquin Sierra Unit
Backcountry Horsemen Sierra Freepackers
Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation
Cloud City Wheelers
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative
Continental Divide Trail Coalition 
Headwaters Trails Alliance
La Veta Trails
Methow Valley Trails Collaborative
Mountain Bike the Tetons
New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors 
Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation
Washington Trails Association 
Wild Alabama
Wilderness Volunteers