Technical Assistance Program

The DNR offers financial and technical assistance for greenways and trails planning. This program (Download the program brochure) is designed to assist communities, counties and multi-county coalitions. The program is an extension of successful IDNR-assisted greenway and trail planning for northeastern Illinois and downstate metro-areas. The goal of the program is to encourage and facilitate comprehensive, cooperative and coordinated planning to protect high priority greenways and, where appropriate, provide public access to them by developing trails. While earlier phases of the program assisted the larger metro communities throughout Illinois, the current phase targets communities with populations of 10,000 or more and non-metro counties. Communities/counties of this size may participate in the program individually, or in cooperation with one or more other eligible communities/counties. Participants in the program must represent a coalition of agencies, organizations and individuals instrumental to the planning process. The resulting plan must; identify priority greenway and trail projects, include an action plan for completing the projects, and provide a commitment of cost-share. Once you have decided to participate you will be helping to create a statewide network of trails and greenways to be enjoyed by you, your community, visitors to your community and the generations who will be the residents of your community in the future.

The Application Process

This is the third phase of the DNR-assisted program. Phase 1 covered Northeastern Illinois. Phase 2 covered 10 downstate metro-areas. Phase 3 covers non-metro communities and counties, including: Communities greater than 10,000 population that have not already participated in DNR-assisted northeastern Illinois or downstate metro-area greenway and trail planning. Counties that have not already participated in DNR-assisted Northeastern Illinois or downstate metro-area greenway and trail planning. These counties may participate in the program individually, or in cooperation with one or more other eligible counties. Two or more northeastern Illinois and downstate metro-area coalitions that have (1) completed regional plans (under earlier Phases and (2) demonstrated significant progress in implementing portions of their plans. The goal for this planning is to connect metro-area networks. Interstate coalitions. The goal for this planning is to connect greenways and trails within Illinois to greenways and trails within adjacent states.

Conditions for Financial Assistance

  1. The applicant, must be a public/quasi-public agency that will be involved in implementing the plan.- Provide the name and address of the applicant, who will accept and disburse the funds and maintain records of their use in a form that can be audited, and the name and title of the manager of the project.

  2. The proposal and plan must be developed by an active, organized broad-based coalition of greenway and trail interests and agencies from the planning area who will logically be involved in the development, promotion and implementation of the plan.
    • Provide the name of the work group, task force or coalition.
    • List the dates, locations and minutes of the past two coalition meetings and the next scheduled meeting.
    • Provide the name of the designated "chair" of the coalition.
    • Provide a list of the names, titles and affiliations of the coalition members. The coalition should include planning area representatives from:
      • City and county government
      • Regional planning agency(s)
      • State agencies such as Illinois Department of Transportation, Historic Preservation Agency and Environmental Protection Agency
      • Non-governmental conservation and recreation constituency/advocacy groups
      • Business/community associations
      • Recreation agency(s)
      • Transportation agency(s)
      • Tourism office(s) and economic development agency(s)
      • DNR Ecosystem Program Local Partnership Councils
  3. The applicant and/or other coalition members must demonstrate cost-sharing commitments (either dollars or in-kind services) to develop the plan. The commitment should be a recognizable item in the applicant’s budget to insure obligation. The suggested total accumulated cost-share is 25-50% of requested funds in order to substantively expand the scope of the plan beyond the capacity of the requested IDNR financial assistance. Provide the amount, source and intended use of each cost-share commitment.- Attach letter(s) or resolution(s) from source(s) formalizing cost-share commitment.

  4. The proposal must describe a planning process/methodology that results in prioritized actions for implementation. - Identifies priority greenways and trails in the planning area that are feasible and have apparent sponsors.- Identifies priority activities or projects within the identified greenways (trails, linear parks, land acquisition, etc.), some of which may be eligible for funding through DNR's existing grant programs. - Considers greenway and trail linkages to attractions and destinations, including DNR, other state sites, an major existing or planned trails, within and nearby the immediate planning area, if applicable.- Propose a schedule with dates (from time of approval) for key plan components. - Outline a budget for requested DNR and cost-share funds.

  5. The proposal must include evidence that most major local governments that will be involved in implementing the plan are supportive of greenway and trail planning.- Attach copies of letters or resolutions of support for greenway and trail planning from local governments which cover most of the planning area and other major governmental bodies that must be involved in order to implement the plan.

Financial Assistance

When the applicant has fully complied with the stated conditions and submitted a complete proposal, the DNR will review and approve the proposal. Financial assistance will be in the form of a contract between DNR and the applicant, not to exceed $20,000, to complete the greenways and trails plan. Completed applications should be submitted to: Illinois Department of Natural Resources Greenways & Trails Planning, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271Phone: 217/782-3715Fax: 217/524-4177

Download the program brochure. You may also review other communities' comprehensive plans.

Additional resources for consideration There are other organizations that are valuable to the planning process.The National Park Service's Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA is a great resource with an office in the Chicago area. The Rails to Trails Conservancy is a great repository for supportive documentation and additional materials. The Illinois Greenways and Trails Council has members from various planning and user organizations. Many members are available to answer questions or to help mobilize user groups in your area to build a better support network for a greenways and trails plan.