This Legislature-authorized grant helps build tourism in communities around the state through the construction and expansion of outdoor recreation amenities.

In 2013, Utah became the first state in the country to create an Office of Outdoor Recreation. Since then, many innovative, exciting changes have come taken place in regards to outdoor recreation throughout the state.

In 2015, the office helped communities build trails and other recreation infrastructure by awarding matching grants through a pilot program. Funding for the program increased the following year. Its success led to the Utah Legislature creating a longer-term funding source to continue the grant program, now called the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant.

Although the Office of Outdoor Recreation has now become the Division of Outdoor Recreation, the Utah Outdoor Recreation grant (UORG) contines to support Utah communities through millions of dollars in annual grants. In 2022 alone, the UORG funded $10.9 million dollars of outdoor recreation infrastructure projects, leveraging $90 million dollars of combined funds.

 

Building Communities & Improving Lives

The Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant supports infrastructure projects throughout the state. See how the grant can help your community. Download the 2022 UORG Annual Report here.

Outdoor Recreation Grant at Work

Joe’s Valley is an iconic bouldering destination in Emery County, where little to no infrastructure existed, leading to concerns over environmental impacts and damage. The Access Fund worked alongside partners at Emery County, USFS, BLM, and the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, while also receiving a Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG) to initiate a sustainability and recreation improvement project for the climbing areas in Joe’s Valley. This initiative is a valuable project to the climbers in the area and the Emery County towns and cities see the economic benefits of the area’s improvement.

National Ability Center

Founded in 1985 and based in Park City, Utah, the National Ability Center (NAC) believes that individuals with disabilities should enjoy the full range of activities life can offer. Through these experiences, individuals can gain the self-confidence, self-esteem, and motivation necessary to become active participants in all aspects of community life. With support from the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG), NAC made improvements and increased the variety of adaptive elements on their challenger course to provide a greater range of experiences and attract more individuals of all abilities to this outdoor recreational activity. Their work continues to provide a model for how we can better support adaptive recreation.

Iron Hills Biking Trails

The Trails Alliance of Southern Utah and the Bureau of Land Management, with support from a Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG), partnered to add 6 miles of quality trail to the Iron Hills Trail System in Cedar City, solidifying its role as one of the state’s premier mountain biking destinations. With expanded recreation infrastructure and higher visitation, this trail system now supports riders of all skill levels, local mountain bike teams, and clubs. The updated trail system also helps Cedar City’s economy.

Learn More

UORG Annual Reports
Grant Time Period

The 2023 UORG cycle is open from January 17th to March 17th, 2023.

Make sure to sign-up for the Utah Outdoors newsletter to receive email alerts and updates about the grant and our office.

General Eligibility Requirements

Local or tribal governments or non-profits may apply. The built recreational infrastructure must provide an economic opportunity for the local area with the ability to increase visitation, boost local businesses and/or attract and retain residents.

Is your project a want or a need? Projects that are fulfilling a need will score higher than a project that is simply a personal desire from the applicant. 

The Divison of Outdoor Recreation grants are aimed towards projects that encourage outdoor recreation. Projects for new playground equipment, sports or ball courts are not eligible. 

All applicants must have some sort of “skin in the game” when it comes to matching cash funds. 

Match Component

As of 2023, UORG Tier 1 and RRI matches are based off the county of the applicant. Outdoor Classroom, Mini-Grant, and Regional Asset Tier all still require a 50/50 match. See the UORG County-Based Matching Scale chart to see what your county’s required match is.

Please note, the match component differs for a Regional Asset Tier grant; information regarding the Regional Asset Tier can be found on page 6 of the 2023 Program Guide.

Grant Size

In 2023, UORG award amounts will range from $15,001-$200,000. For awards of $15,000 and less, please consider the UORG Mini-Grant, which funds $500-$15,000 for smaller projects and includes a more streamlined application process.

Please note, a Regional Asset Tier will be available in 2023. Regional Asset Tier UORG funding of $750,000 will be available for large outdoor recreation projects that will cost more than $3,000,000 for urban counties. For rural counties, a 50/50 match is sufficient for the Regional Asset Tier. The Utah Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Advisory Committee (ORIC) has discretion in the number of Regional Asset Tier projects and the awarded amount. The most competitive projects will focus on using UORG funds to support outdoor recreation elements rather than surrounding infrastructure, such as bathrooms or parking lots.

Contract & Reporting Requirements

The project must be complete within 28 months of the date the contract is signed. Funding is given after the applicant’s spend. Up to 75 percent of the matched monies may be given before the completion of the project. Grant recipients will need to provide a project progress report twice a year until completion. Final funding contingent upon inspection of the completed project.

Past Grant Recipients

The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation’s (OOR), which is now the Division of Outdoor recreation, ended it’s 8th grant cycle of the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG) in 2022. The Office awarded $10.9 million in grant funding to 85 different outdoor recreation infrastructure projects throughout the state. This year marks the highest amount of grant funding given. These funds will create an estimated impact of over $90 million statewide, including grants, matching funds and private investments. The 2022 UORG cycle generated a 9-to-1 return-on-investment for state funds and awarded 53% of its funds to rural counties. To see all of the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant projects mapped and summarized, check out our map.

2021 Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant Projects

2022 Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant Projects

UORG Story Map

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We’ve got answers. Here’s a selection of Frequently Asked Questions in response to inquiries on policies and specific aspects of our grant programs.

If you have questions that aren’t answered below, please email us. We will answer your questions by email and add them to this page as well. Contact Tara McKee (tmckee@utah.gov) or Patrick Morrison (patrickmorrison@utah.gov) with questions about the grants.

Who can apply? Municipalities, county governments, tribal governments or non-profit organizations that meet Utah code requirements are all eligible to apply for a Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant.

How much grant funding can we apply for?  The Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant is divided into three categories or ‘tiers’. The Mini-Grant is for smaller community-based projects, and a 1:1 match is required. This grant awards funding between $500-$15,000.

The UORG Tier 1 is the most popular of the grants and awards funding from $15,001-$200,000. The matching funds for this depend on your county. See the County-Based matching sheet to determine what your required match is. 

The Regional Asset Tier is for large projects that will draw visitation and use from the larger region. This funding is availble up to $750,000 and requires a 2:1 match in urban counties, whereas a rural county only requires a 1:1 match. 

Our city has a couple of great infrastructure projects we’d like to do. Can we send in more than one application?

Yes, but the review committees will be factoring in the geographic diversity of all grant projects. It is highly unlikely that the review committees will choose more than one infrastructure project from the same entity for the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant. If your organization plans on submitting more than one application, please prioritize which one you would like to see funded among all the rest.

Please keep in mind we have additional grants in 2023 which may be better suited to your community’s outdoor recreation needs:

The Recreation Restoration Infrastructure Grant (RRI) funds the restoration or rehabilitation of existing and developed recreation areas and trails so the public can safely access them.

The Utah Outdoor Classroom Grant funds permanent, built infrastructure that can support student learning and funds up to $15,000.

Our project is a large one and the final costs will be quite high. Can we apply to receive a second grant the following year or later to help us finish our project? 

The legislative intent of the grant funds is to provide funding to projects that will be completed. The ability to demonstrate a project is truly ready and will be completed as specified in your application is required. A possible exception would be a project for a trail segment within a large trail project with a long-term master plan. The trail segment that has been funded by our grant must be completed, accessible to the public, and able to be used on its own before an organization could apply for additional funding from the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant to build another trail segment within a large trail system.

The advisory committee also prioritizes projects that will take place as phases. If you only have the funds for part of the project this year, but know more funding will be available next year, indicate that in your application.

We’ve never done a grant before. Can we get some help? 

Of course! We’d like to make resources available that will help you in the process of filling out the grant applications:

  • The 2023 UORG Program Guide will be your best resource as you begin filling out your respective application.
  • The 2023 grant workshop tour took place in November and December of 2022, and a live recording of this presenation can be found here.
  • Lastly, the grants and planning team is eager to help answer any of your questions throughout the process.

If you have a question about the eligibility of your project or a similar question, email tmckee@utah.gov, patrickmorrison@utah.gov or cweiler@utah.gov  and we’ll get back to promptly! We’ll also continue to update this FAQ page as we see more common questions come in. 

When do we get our funding? 

The Outdoor Recreation Grant for infrastructure projects will be given as a post-completion reimbursement. Projects must be completed within 28 months of the date the contract is signed. Funding is given after the applicant’s spend. Up to 75% of the matched monies may be given before the completion of the project. Once all necessary documentation has been submitted, you can expect to receive the funding within 2-3 weeks. The final funding will be contingent upon inspection of the completed project. 

What are the key criteria for how projects are evaluated?

 The grant applications have sections that have been given scoring values to allow fair evaluations. The infrastructure grants will be evaluated by the Utah Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which is comprised of knowledgeable experts from the outdoor recreation and economic development industries in Utah. 

The infrastructure grants will be evaluated for: project readiness and a feasible schedule, community need and economic impact, recreational value, improved physical and recreational access, budget and project costs, and special considerations for area deficiencies. Please see page 14 of the 2023 Program Guide for more information.

Since we are a city who will be building and maintaining this infrastructure on our own property and are under the City and not County jurisdiction for such projects, must we have county approval and endorsement in order to apply, or would the City’s endorsement be OK to substitute in place of the county? Since you are under your City and not County jurisdiction for such projects, yes, in your case, it would be okay to get the City’s endorsement in lieu of the County’s endorsement.

Can we apply for funding for a Pickleball Court? Or Rodeo Grounds? Or Fairgrounds? Or soccer fields? The Utah Outdoor Recreation Grants are meant to fund outdoor recreation amenities and we’ve had to draw a line between outdoor recreational activities and recreational sports (the latter of which do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Division of Outdoor Recreation). Sports courts, athletic fields, rodeo grounds, and fairgrounds are ineligible infrastructure for the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant.

The online application for infrastructure projects asks for two attachments that prove the project readiness, what exactly needs to be attached here? There can be several documents that show project readiness such as permits, conceptual drawings or engineered plans, environmental documentation, even documentation as to the status of pending permits is helpful. Submit whatever you have along those lines that are pertinent to your project. On the list of attachments, you are asked to provide two maps, one location map showing where it is located in the community and one recreation site map (or conceptual drawing) of the project site.

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