New Hampshire Rail Trail Funding

PRS Briefs
Monday, April 19, 2021

Across the country, rail trails are an environmentally- and commuter-friendly alternative to automobiles and other fossil fuel-burning transportation. They also provide safe locations for a wide range of recreational activities, including mountain biking, snowmobiling, horseback riding, and running. The New Hampshire General Court recently passed legislation to update its rail trail management practices.1 The state intends to undertake an economic analysis of this system to improve its funding mechanisms for publicly owned rail trails. This report examines the current practices for rail trail funding in New Hampshire at both the federal and state levels, as well as at the local level (including funding from private and nonprofit organizations). Next, this report details rail trail funding practices in three key Northeastern states: Vermont, Maine, and New York. Finally, this report provides an overview of the funding structure utilized by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. The goal of analyzing this array of funding practices is to compare funding for rail trails across states and in other recreational areas to highlight best practices that may be adopted by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to fund the development and maintenance of rail trails.