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Coalition for Recreational Trails
Maps Out Strategies for RTP reauthorization

From Coalition for Recreational Trails

 

The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) has engaged in some productive efforts in support of continued funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The CRT executive committee and other key CRT member representatives had a very encouraging and fruitful meeting in late March, 2014 with the staffers of the key Congressional Champions of the Recreational Trails Program: U.S. Representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and Michael Michaud (D-ME) and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jim Risch (R-ID). The meeting was also unusual, linking Congressional offices on both sides of the Hill and both political parties.

arrow See the final Senate Dear Colleague Letter signed by 24 Senators with 18 Democrats and 6 Republicans (pdf 1.4 mb)

photo of smiling men in suits

Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME) at left, and Congressman
Tom Petri (R-WI) receiving awards recognizing them as
champions for the Recreational Trails Program

 

The meeting began with CRT members recalling the remarkable victory enjoyed by RTP supporters as MAP-21 was finalized. Few predicted that RTP could withstand the pressures of consolidation and spending constraints that influenced MAP-21’s evolution— and yet the RTP program prevailed at the same spending level and with the same operational criteria.

The combination of strong grass roots and national trails community support and active, strategic champions in Congress— who were willing to buck leadership— proved very powerful. Officials at U.S. Department of Transportation later told us that RTP’s continuation was one of the biggest surprises of the new law.

But our success was not absolute. The opt-out provision has been the cause of many, many hours of efforts by CRT members. And while only one state (Florida) opted out in both years and the only other opt-out state (Kansas) returned to the program this year, the energies invested to simply not lose were very high. And the decision to house the protected RTP in the Transportation Alternatives Program created competition for funds that CRT never intended and regrets.

CRT leaders outlined our platform (see below) to the Congressional staffers. We were delighted by the comments indicating that the requests were cogent and support-worthy. We were also appreciative of the message from our Congressional Champions to not wait to begin advocacy of RTP in light of announced plans by key Congressional leaders to work on MAP-21’s successor in April.

 

See Current legislation, issues, and action as the transportation funding reauthorization debate heats up on Capitol Hill.

See the final Senate Dear Colleague Letter signed by 24 Senators with 18 Democrats and 6 Republicans (pdf 1.4 mb)

 

CRT Position on Recreational Trails Program Reauthorization

 

• The RTP should be returned to its original status as a stand-alone program and should be totally separate from the other programs that were consolidated into Transportation Alternatives under MAP-21.

• The provision of MAP-21 allowing a state to opt out of the RTP in any fiscal year should be eliminated.

• RTP funding should be maintained at the MAP-21 level, as apportioned to the states in FY 2009. If overall transportation funding is increased in the next bill or extension, the funding for RTP should be increased proportionately.

• An amount representing 1% of RTP funds, but not to exceed $1 million, should be retained each year by the Secretary of Transportation to support administration of the RTP.

• A U.S. Department of Transportation study of nonhighway recreational fuel use should be funded, in addition to the funding provided for the RTP.

• Report language for the bill should state that, once the amount of fuel used for nonhighway recreation is determined by the new study, Congress can adjust the apportionment to the RTP program appropriate to the receipts attributable to nonhighway recreational activities.

• Report language should state that, because the RTP is a volunteer-driven program, which allows significant leveraging of resources and supports essential trail-related work on public lands, projects funded under the RTP shall not be treated as projects on a Federal-aid highway.

 

arrow Read about nationwide benefits of RTP funding in the 2014 Recreational Trails Program Annual Report

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