SIGN-ON as a member of CRT’s RTP Council of Advisors today!
May 1, 2013: After the governors of two states (Kansas and Florida) elected to "opt out" of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), the Coalition for Recreational Trails has been continuing efforts to keep RTP in the legislative spotlight.
October 18, 2012: States announce trail funding after opting out of RTP - Florida and Kansas were the only State to "opt out" of the Recreational Trails Program when the federal transportation funding authorization was announced earlier in 2012. Soon after, however, both made announcements that they were in fact spending significant amounts of federal dollars on trails. Apparently the campaign by trail supporters made it clear that the public DOES expect trails to be state priority, whatever the category of funding is called. Read more...
September 25, 2012: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released interim guidance documents and Q&A’s regarding implementation of MAP-21. The materials are online at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/.
September 24, 2012: FHWA offers MAP-21 Webinars on September 26 and 27! Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) invites you to participate in informational webinars on the recently enacted MAP-21 surface transportation authorization legislation. Recordings are also available for webinars that have already taken place. The webinars are designed to make you aware of the major changes brought about by MAP-21, and to provide a forum for beginning the national dialog FHWA wishes to have with you on questions and concerns as FHWA works to prepare for the October 1 implementation of these program changes and efficiencies. Click on this link to register. Scroll further down on that page to view and download the presentations and recordings of past webinars.
September 11, 2012: Only two States "opt out" of Recreational Trails Program Funding
July 24, 2012: The surface transportation agreement announced by the Transportation Conference Committee was signed into law, now called MAP-21, July 6, 2012. The Recreational Trails Program is continued intact as the Kloubuchar amendment was retained. However, States may apparently opt out of the entire program. Funding is set at 85 million a year for two years and three months. The $85 million “apportioned” annually to the States for Recreational Trails Program grants will be the same as FY09. See how much your State will receive in RTP funds...
The new authorization bill keeps highway and transit spending at current levels through the end of fiscal year 2014. See the complete MAP-21 bill as signed... (599 pages)
The provisions for RTP are found under Transportation Alternatives:
‘‘(f) CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROJECTS.—Each State shall—
‘‘(1) obligate an amount of funds reserved under this section equal to the amount of the funds apportioned to the State for fiscal year 2009 under section 104(h)(2) for projects relating to recreational trails under section 206;
‘‘(2) return 1 percent of those funds to the Secretary for the administration of that program; and
‘‘(3) comply with the provisions of the administration of the recreational trails program under section 206, including the use of apportioned funds described under subsection (d)(3)(A) of that section.
‘‘(g) STATE FLEXIBILITY.—A State may opt out of the recreational trails program under subsection (f) if the Governor of the State notifies the Secretary not later than 30 days prior to apportionments being made for any fiscal year.’’
The Federal Highway Administration provided a summary of programs in the MAP-21 law
May 30, 2012: See the most current list of supporters of the Recreational Trails Program with 511 organizations and agencies signed on in support of continued federal funding for trails.
March 20, 2012: After all the rhetoric and amendments and work to support trails in the House and Senate transportation bills, it looks like there will be an extension of the current programs. Today Rep. John Mica (R-FL) said the House won't address the bill passed by the Senate, but will simply extend the funding authorization, possibly until the November elections. The House is in the spotlight on federal transportation funding, following Senate passage of its version of the bill. However, with the current authorization expires on March 31, it's apparent that Congress must now simply extend SAFETEA-LU, as it has done eight times. For trails and bike/ped programs, life would go on as it has since 2009 when the first extension took place. Next stop would be the November elections, with more rhetoric to follow.
February 29, 2012: Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Michael Bennett (D–CO) joined Senators Burr (R- NC) , Shaheen (D-NH), and Risch (R-ID) have joined Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) as co-sponsors of the Senate Amendment which would restore dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program. Download a copy of the Klobuchar amendment...
The Senate is expected to re-open debate on amendments proposed for the transportation bill on March 1. Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would allow votes on some of those amendments in an effort to win enough votes to move toward final passage of the bill. Senator Reid, a Democrat, said "Republicans made it clear we would not be able to move forward on this bill without a vote." He added that he hoped the Senate could finish the transportation bill by the end of next week.
Congressional Quarterly, Inc. reported on issues with the House bill in "Short-Term Highway Bill in Doubt"
Resources on the three core federal programs that fund projects for walking and bicycling from the Rails to Trails Conservancy:
February 14, 2012: Update from Coalition for Recreational Trails:
All our efforts on behalf of RTP are moving ahead.
Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) proposed amendment to end funding for the RTP in the House transportation bill, apparently based on his concern that funds are being used for non-motorized trail use, has stirred up a furor.
Supporting bike/ped programs in the Senate:
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has agreed to introduce an amendment to MAP-21 that will continue the RTP as a stand-alone program with its own funding. Download a copy of the Klobuchar amendment...
If this amendment is approved, then the RTP should be protected in both the Senate and House transportation bills. However, for Sen. Klobuchar’s effort to be successful, we must build support for her amendment. READ MORE...
February 10, 2012: Attention shifts to the Senate! American Trails and partners in the Coalition for Recreational Trails are urging trail supporters to voice their support for dedicated funding for the RTP. Tell your Senators to support Recreational Trails funding, a user-pay/user-benefit program, in the Senate transportation bill (MAP-21). Amendments have been proposed to provide to restore dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program (Senator Klobuchar) and to protect Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School (Senators Cardin and Cochran). Learn how to support RTP funding now...
February 3, 2012: Victory for RTP: the House transportation bill just passed by the Transportation Committee includes the Recreational Trails Program as a discrete program with $85 million in annual funding. Rep. John L. Mica, Chairman, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was thanked in a letter from the Coalition for Recreational Trails for including RTP in the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act. Hundreds of local and national trail organizations joined in efforts led by CRT to support funding and authorization for RTP.
HOWEVER, the Senate bill passed last November does NOT include any authorization of RTP. Stay tuned for the next effort to convince key Senators to include Recreational Trails in the final transportation legislation.
February 2, 2012: The Petri amendment FAILED on a committee vote. It would have restored dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements, state bike coordinators, and Safe Routes to School programs, as well as restoring eligibility for rail corridor preservation. Read more and keep up to date on future strategies...
February 1, 2012: The House transportation bill markup will be webcast live on February 2. The bill is H.R. 7, "The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act."
Advocates in Washington, DC are working to propose an amendment that would protect funding for TE and other bike/ped programs. They urge you contact your Representative and stress the importance of dedicated funding for these essential programs that make trails and active transportation possible. See the Safe Routes to School National Parnership site for an easy way to contact your Representative. See the list of House T & I Committee members...
January 31, 2012: National bicycling and walking organizations are urging advocates to contact your Representative and ask them to vote to preserve bicycling and walking programs. Read more and learn how you can support funding for these vital programs...
January 27, 2012: The House of Representatives released a preview of its version of the federal transportation funding bill. Like the Senate bill announced in November, the House version eliminates the requirement for states to spend highway funds on such programs as Trails, Safe Routes to School, and Enhancements. Advocates in Washington, DC urge you contact your Representative and stress the importance of dedicated funding for these essential programs that make trails and active transportation possible. See the list of House T & I Committee members...
January 17, 2012: Your support is needed! The Coalition for Recreational Trails believes that "now is the time for all organizations and individuals who support RTP to tell their Senators to protect dedicated funding for this absolutely essential program." Read more and learn how to make your voice heard...
December 29, 2011: TheHill.com reported that the Senate is eager to pass a two-year transportation funding bill soon after Congress returns in mid-January. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had put forth a proposed bill in November that essentially eliminated dedicated funding for any trail, bicycle, or pedestrian programs. With the fuel tax shortfall causing disagreements between the two political parties, the Senate Finance Committee has been looking at proposals to offset the $12 billion shortfall in Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) original bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters last week that the surface transportation and aviation funding bills would be among his top priorities for action in the new year.
December 1, 2011: The long-awaited House version of the transportation funding bill will apparently be delayed until after Congress returns January 17. Rep. John Mica, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced that details of the bill would not be released as planned. An E&E News reporter quoted Rep. Mica as "saying that he would not eliminate the Transportation Enhancements program and that the bill would maintain funding for bike and pedestrian programs." That casts still more uncertainty on the details, and whether Recreational Trails would be included in any actual funding.
A Washington trails advocate speculated that it really means there won't be a bill after all, but yet another proposal to extend the current transportation programs beyond the current cut-off of March 31, 2012. With the increasing focus on the 2012 national elections, and no leadership willing to address the fuel tax funding shortfall, an extension could be the politically expedient solution.
November 25, 2011: The Senate may be voting early in December on on the MAP-21 bill. So far neither the Senate nor the House transportation funding bills have provided much hope for continuing funding for trails and enhancements programs. In the meantime, Coalition for Recreational Trails supporters as well as bike/ped activists are looking at options for support. One strategy is to convince individual Senators to offer amendments to support funding for these programs.
November 9, 2011: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its rewrite of the federal transportation bill, "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21). The bill consolidates 70 former programs and allows states to choose their own priorities, but eliminates dedicated funding for trails and bike/ped projects. A new "transportation mobility program" includes eligibilty for Recreational Trails, Enhancements, Scenic Byways, and Safe Routes to School, among many other bridge, highway, and environmental programs. Section 149 of USC title 23 would cover "congestion mitigation and air quality improvement" and also includes Recreational Trails eligibility. According to the committee, it also "Reforms the Transportation Enhancements program with more flexibility granted to the states on the use of the funds within the program." See more on the bill and links to the full text...
October 26, 2011: From the Coalition for Recreational Trails: We have learned that Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), a freshman Member of Congress from Indiana’s 8th Congressional District, is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter (pdf 82 mb) and proposed amendment (pdf 37 kb) to the transportation bill to the Republican members of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The amendment would allow the use of all Title 23 funds for emergency repairs to transportation facilities if a state governor determines that such an emergency exists. Rep. Bucshon’s intent is clear: Take funding away from programs like RTP in the case of emergencies that are defined as pretty much anything a state governor decides is an emergency.
The “Dear Colleague” letter incorrectly asserts, “Title 23 dollars were appropriated only for programs such as bike paths, trail programs and highway beautification projects.” Title 23 funds are actually almost the entire Federal-Aid Highway Program, i.e., Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, Surface Transportation Program (including Transportation Enhancements), Highway Safety Improvement Program, Highway Bridge Program, Recreational Trails Program, Appalachian Highway Development Program, High Priority Projects, State Planning and Research, Metropolitan Planning, Federal Lands Highway Program, Scenic Byways and all the other discretionary programs, and transfers of Highway funds to Transit programs. The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) represents about 0.2% of total Title 23 funding.
Regardless of the incorrect understanding of what Title 23 actually encompasses, we need to protect the RTP from these types of raids. The amount of money that would be made available for an “emergency” is very small, yet the negative impact on state trail programs would be very severe. CRT members are asked to contact Republican supporters of RTP who are members of the T&I Committee and ask them not to co-sponsor this amendment and not to support it once it is introduced. Those members are: Rep. Don Young (R-AK) Tom Petri (R-WI) Howard Coble (R-NC) Candice Miller (R-MI) Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) Randy Hultgren (R-IL) Reid Ribble (R-WI)
September 16, 2011: Sen. Tom Coburn agreed to Senate approval of the highways and FAA funding bill. He had been holding up the bill because he objects to Transportation Enhancements, which he called a "beautification mandate," and stated that ithe program is "an indefensible threat against public safety that forces states to prioritize bike paths over bridge repair.”
The bad news, however, is that there appears to be a bipartisan deal in the Senate to eliminate the requirement that states spend money on Enhancements, bike paths, etc. They MAY do so, but apparently there is no set-aside. Acording to thehill.com: "Senators Boxer and Inhofe explained that so-called transportation enhancement funding accounted for only 2 percent of the pending two-year transportation authorization bill. They emphasized reforms in the legislation that would give states more flexibility over how to use those funds. "Now that we have overcome this hurdle it's time to get to work on passing a two-year highway bill,” Inhofe said in a statement. “Senator Coburn is absolutely correct to say that states should not be required to fund highway beautification projects. I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with Senator Boxer on this issue.”
September 13, 2011: The House passed legislation to extend the authority to appropriate funds from the Highway Trust Fund for transportation, trails, and bike/ped programs through March 31, 2012 (half of FY 2012). H.R. 2887 maintains current policy and funding at FY 2011 levels and also also includes a four-month of Federal Aviation Administration funding, which expires Friday.
Both Republican and Democratic members agreed that extending the gas tax and related spending programs was essential. This was the eighth extension of SAFETEA-LU, which expired in 2009, and allocates about $41 billion per year on transportation projects.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the shortfall in transportation revenue will reach $14 billion in FY 2012. The House bill would limit spending to about $35 billion, or the actual federal gas tax annual revenue, while the Senate proposal would raise spending to $54 billion a year. Neither body has addressed the politically hot issue of paying for roads while gas tax revenues decline as vehicles become more efficient.
September 4, 2011: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has singled out Transportation Enhancements as funding that could go to more pressing infrastructure needs. Rep. Cantor cited the House proposal to reauthorize Federal transportation programs, noting that States “will not be required to spend a specific amount of funding on specific types of projects, such as transportation museums or landscaping.” The actual bill has not been released but it is expected to be made public in the next week before action in Congress.
According to TheHill.com, "Infrastructure investments are expected to be at the center of the major jobs speech that Obama is set to deliver to a joint session of Congress on Thursday." The President on Sept. 3 expressed his support for another extension of the current transportation programs: "So I’m calling on Congress, as soon as they come back, to pass a clean extension of the transportation bill to keep workers on the job, keep critical projects moving forward, and to give folks a sense of security."
September 1, 2011: Rep. John Mica (R-FL) has stated his support for a possible four-month extension of the Federal transportation funding bill (SAFETEA-LU). The bill would continue trails and bike/ped programs as well as allow the federal gas tax to be collected. Otherwise all surface transportation programs would come to a halt September 30, Rep. Mica stated in a news release, "As chairman of the House Transportation Committee, I will agree to one additional highway program extension, this being the eighth of the overdue transportation reauthorization.” Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had previously indicated her willingness to support an eighth extension. The idea is to allow the congressional debt supercommittee time to address the persistent problem of funding transportation as fuel tax revenue declines.
July 19, 2011: Senate releases outline of Transportation funding bill: MAP-21 - The outline provides only a broad philosophy, which emphasizes consolidation and allows States to set their own performance targets. According to the outline, "MAP-21 consolidates 87 programs under SAFETEA-LU to less than 30 programs. The activities for which dedicated funding has been removed have been consolidated into the very broad core programs, leaving States with the flexibility to fund these activities as they see fit." A hearing is scheduled for July 21at 10 a.m with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and a markup of the legislation is tentatively scheduled for July 27. The Committee rules state that the actual text of a bill scheduled for markup must be released at least 72 hours before the markup, which means we may see the legislation on Friday, July 22.
July 8, 2011: House, led by Rep. Mica, releases proposal for Federal Transportation funding reauthorization
July 1, 2011: Larry E. Smith, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access writes: "The fate of the Recreational Trails Program still hangs in the balance as the bigger issue of how to find adequate resources to fund the nation's highway and transportation programs is resolved. We keep hearing that any day now House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Mica will unveil his draft legislation. When that happens, we will have a better handle on how the RTP is being treated. We are also hearing that Senator Boxer, the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is close to releasing her draft bill, but like with Chairman Mica, we all wait. "
May 6, 2011: Seventy-four Members of Congress from both parties agreed to support the Recreational Trails Program in a lettert to the leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bi-partisan "Dear Colleague" letter asking Members of the House of Representatives to include funding for the Recreational Trails Program is being circulated by Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) in the Transportation Reauthorization Bill. Legislation expected to be produced by both House and Senate in May.
May 5, 2011: A draft of President Obama’s full transportation bill had been expected this month. However, an apparently leaked copy of proposed text has been making the rounds in Washington. A legislative analyst for one of the federal land management agencies shared the new direction from USDOT: "At this time, the Administration is not releasing a formal bill for the public and/or Congress. Rather, the Department has shared policy proposals with the Hill that are relevant to the issues under consideration. We are at liberty to discuss policy proposals at a high level with our partners but no written materials can be exchanged. Draft legislation and section analyses shared with our partners months ago are no longer valid or accurate." See some of the language from the previous draft legislation...
Add your voice to the 499 groups and communities supporting the Recreational Trails Program. Invite your Members of Congress and other elected officials to visit a trail, see volunteers at work, or celebrate a trail opening. Tell the media, and send news clips to your Congressional offices. Download the sign-on form to join the Recreational Trails Council of Advisors.
April 15, 2011: Congress passes Continuing Appropriations Act with two major recissions of funding for transportation-funded projects (H.R. 1473)
April 8, 2011: now being written by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Action is needed by April 14, 2011: ask your Member of the House of Representatives to sign on to Rep. Petri’s and Michaud’s letter supporting continuation of RTP. And, please join 492 groups and agencies who are supporting RTP at this crucial time.
March 7, 2011: Both the House and Senate passed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 to extend federal transportation programs to September 30, 2011. H.R. 662 was introduced in the House by the Republican and Democrat leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The legislation freezes funding at fiscal year 2010 levels for highway, transit and highways safety programs.
February 28, 2011: National field hearings and listening sessions on future surface transportation needs were held in February by the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The CRT letters had almost 500 signatories and documented the results of the program nationally and in each Member’s state.
February 11, 2011
The letter asks Representatives Mica, Representatives Rahall, Duncan, and DeFazio of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee "to support the reauthorization of the RTP as a discrete program in new surface transportation legislation." The letter includes support from 492 trail and recreation organizations and emphasizes that "Our thousands of members and allies believe that reauthorizing the Recreational Trails Program will achieve both important economic stimulation and strategic investments that will help transform American communities and lifestyles for long-term success." (Download letter in pdf format, 147 kb).
July 14, 2010
The letter includes support from 348 trail and recreation organizations and asks Secretary LaHood to "join Americans across the country in supporting the Recreational Trails Program as part of the new federal transportation bill." The letter emphasizes that "trails are an investment in the future of our communities and our public lands, while connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to the environment." (Download letter in pdf format, 168 kb).
The Recreational Trails Program has been extended through the end of 2010
On March 22, 2010, the Highway Trust Fund was extended through the end of 2010 as part of the new jobs bill. US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stated that "we need lawmakers and experts to think creatively about how we're going to fund our transportation infrastructure in the 21st century." With the health care bill in the hands of the lawyers for now, transportation funding should be one of the next priorities for Congress.
OPINIONS and COMMENTS on TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
July 22, 2009
Twenty-six Members of Congress have sent key House leaders a letter supporting continuation of the Recreational Trails Program (download letter in pdf format, 184 kb) in the upcoming Surface Transportation Act of 2009 and requesting an increase in funding for the highly successful and popular program. Without reauthorization, the current program, funded by federal tax paid on fuel used in off-highway recreation, would expire when the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) concludes at the end of September 2009.
Led by Congressmen Michael Michaud (D-ME) and Thomas Petri (R-WI), a diverse group of Members including several serving on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and representing districts across the nation, thanked the committee leadership for continuing the RTP in recently introduced transportation legislation and called for some needed changes to the current program, especially increased funding to $690 million over six years.
The essential ingredient in funding for trails:
Citizens working with elected officials at state
and federal levels to emphasize the importance of trails
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D, Oregon, 3rd Congressional District
Rep. Christopher Carney, D, Pennsylvania, 10th Congressional District
Rep. Andre Carson, D, Indiana, 7th Congressional District
Rep. Jerry Costello, D, Illinois, 12th Congressional District
Rep. Bob Filner, D, California, 51st Congressional District
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D, Arizona, 7th Congressional District
Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, D, South Dakota, At Large
Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D, New York, 22nd Congressional District
Rep. Mazie Hirono, D, Hawaii, 2nd Congressional District
Rep. Paul Hodes, D, New Hampshire, 2nd Congressional District
Rep. Michael Honda, D, California 15th Congressional District
Rep. Mike Michaud, D, Maine, 2nd Congressional District
Rep. Dennis Moore, D, Kansas, 3rd Congressional District
Rep. Jim Moran, D, Virginia, 8th Congressional District
Rep. Tim Murphy, R, Pennsylvania, 18th Congressional District
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D, New York, 8th Congressional District
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D, District of Columbia
Rep. Tom Petri, R, Wisconsin, 6th Congressional District
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D, Maine, 1st Congressional District
Rep. David Price, D, North Carolina, 4th Congressional District
Rep. Mike Ross, D, Arkansas, 4th Congressional District
Rep. Aaron Schock, R, Illinois, 18th Congressional District
Rep. Joe Sestak, D, Pennsylvania, 7th Congressional District
Rep. Heath Shuler, D, North Carolina, 11th Congressional District
Rep. Peter Visclosky, D, Indiana, 1st Congressional District
Rep. Mel Watt, D, North Carolina, 12th Congressional District
U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Tom Petri (R-WI) have just released a "Dear Colleague" letter asking members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter to the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in support of the Recreational Trails Program (pdf 636 kb). The letter thanks the leadership for including the RTP in the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 and makes three specific requests:
1. That RTP funding levels in the legislation be set at $690 million over six years - $90 million in 2010, $100 million in 2011, $110 million in 2012, $120 million in 2013, $130 million in 2014, and $140 million in 2015;
2. That $2.5 million be allocated to a DOT study of off-highway recreational fuel use, to ensure that the level of RTP funding reflects the federal fuel taxes paid for off-highway fuel usage; and
3. That the funds allocated to the FHWA to administer the RTP each year be adjusted from a set amount to 1% of actual available annual funding to ensure that sufficient administrative resources are available for the program.
Please contact your member of the U.S. House of Representatives and ask him/her to sign the letter. The deadline is next Friday, July 17th. Explain how important the RTP is to the trails community and to your organization specifically. If you need help identifying your U.S. Representative, the Project Vote Smart web site (http://www.votesmart.org/index.htm) provides zip-code based contact information.
July 2, 2009
The Senate version of the Coalition for Recreational Trails’ letter requesting support for the Recreational Trails Program reauthorization and increased funding. We had a very impressive list of signatories on the letter: 34 national groups and an additional 235 regional/state/local organizations. As a follow up to this letter, we would like to ask you to contact your Senators and let them know of your strong support for the RTP and the great work that it has made possible in your area. Mentioning actual projects with which you are familiar will personalize and enhance your message. Since we will be tracking Senate contacts by state, please let us know when you make contact with your Senators. And, if you hear back, we would appreciate your sharing that response with us. We will be posting organization contact reports by state, as well as other RTP update information, at www.AmericanTrails.org/RTP.
June 24, 2009
The Recreational Trails Program is included, by name, as a separate program in Chairman Oberstar’s mark of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s surface transportation authorization legislation. The RTP is shown in Section 1114 of Title I as being authorized for six years (with dollar amounts yet to be determined) and in Section 1203 as being administered by the Director of the new Office of Livability that the legislation would establish within the FHWA.
The full text of the "Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009" is available on the American Trails RTP web page at: http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/STransJune22bill09.pdf
The Coalition for Recreational Trails is continuing its work on both the House and Senate sides to secure increased funding for the RTP. Thanks to CRT member support, we are building an impressive list of signatories for our letter to Senate leadership, which is scheduled to be sent at the end of this month. We are also working with key members of the House to develop a “Dear Colleague” letter in support of increased RTP funding. We’ll be back in touch when it’s time to ask Members of the House to sign on to that letter.
Please see the letter below (or download in PDF format) that the Coalition for Recreational Trails has prepared to send to key members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives requesting support for increased funding for the Recreational Trails Program (see program details) in the next multi-year surface transportation bill. We are trying to get as many organizations as possible to sign the letter for delivery to the Senate, House of Representatives, the Secretary of Transportation, and others. Sign on to the letter supporting RTP!
As we all know, these are very challenging economic times and there is no guarantee that even an established and successful program like the RTP will be continued. We need to show that this important program— essential to state trail programs all across the country— enjoys broad support from the American people.
Please let us know as quickly as possible if we can add your organization’s name to the letter. And please spread the word to other interested organizations, asking them to sign on as well.
The Honorable James L. Oberstar, Chairman, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable John Mica, Ranking Member, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
Dear Chairman Oberstar and Representative Mica:
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which was created in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, plays an absolutely essential role in funding state trail programs and projects all across the country. As national, regional and local organizations that support recreational trails, we urge you to reauthorize the RTP in the upcoming multi-year surface transportation legislation and to include funding for this important program in the amount of $550 million (over a five-year period).
Funding for the RTP, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration, comes from the federal taxes paid on gasoline used in nonhighway recreation and is distributed to the states based on a formula that recognizes the user-pay/user-benefit character of the program. RTP funds are distributed through the state transportation departments and natural resource agencies in cooperation with citizen advisory committees and a network of organizations and communities. These partners leverage available funding with cash and in-kind support. Work for these projects is primarily done by youth corps, volunteers, and small businesses.
The RTP funding-distribution process is proven, having successfully funded in excess of 10,000 projects across the nation over the past 18 years. Despite this success, however, there is still a backlog of good-quality, eligible projects, which exceeds the RTP funding available under SAFETEA-LU, the current transportation legislation, by a ratio of at least 3:1. For this reason, and because past legislation failed to make available all of the funds attributable to non-highway recreation use of gasoline, we are requesting increased funding for the RTP.
By providing convenient, enjoyable opportunities for people to spend more time outdoors, trails encourage healthier living. Trails are an investment in the future of our communities and our public lands, while connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to the environment – which is good for them and good for the world that surrounds them.
We have seen firsthand the power of these projects to transform communities and transform people. Indeed RTP-funded projects represent investments in vital infrastructure that promote healthy communities and more importantly, healthy people. In addition, the economic impact of these projects is magnified because they improve access to public lands and waters and support both local tourism and recreation businesses, as well as healthy lifestyles.
Our thousands of members and allies believe that reauthorizing the Recreational Trails Program will achieve both important economic stimulation and strategic investments that will help transform American communities and lifestyles for long-term success.
The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) has prepared the enclosed paper that provides additional background, as well as some recommended modifications to the RTP. For more information, we invite you to contact one of the Co-Chairs of the Coalition for Recreational Trails: Marianne Fowler or Derrick Crandall.
Please join Americans across the country in supporting the Recreational Trails Program as part of the new federal transportation bill. Thank you for your leadership in addressing our nation’s transportation challenges.
Click here to view the funding levels and modifications CRT is requesting be included in reauthorization. Please feel free to use it as you talk to your leaders.
You can stay up to date on all of these efforts, as well as news about trails and transportation funding by visiting the American Trails Supporting Trails page.