Support the Recreational Trails Program

 

 

There are ongoing concerns that more states will decide to "opt out" of the Recreational Trails Program.

 

It is essential to make sure that every State Governor understands the breadth and scope of support for RTP. Governors will be much less likely to opt out of the program if thousands of RTP supporters urge them not to.

 

 

Key reasons for a state NOT to opt out of the Recreational Trails Program

 

 

The Recreational Trails Program: A User-Pay/User-Benefit Program

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds the development and maintenance of recreational trails and facilities for motorized and non-motorized uses including hiking, bicycling, equestrian use, dirt bike riding, ATV riding, and other recreational uses. The program derives its funding from only a portion (less than 50%) of the Federal gas taxes collected at the pump when off-highway recreation enthusiasts fill up their machines. The RTP is based on the user-pay, user-benefit philosophy as taxes collected on fuel used on trails benefit trails.

By statute 30% of the funds are to be used for motorized recreation, 30% for non-motorized recreation, with the remaining 40% to be used for multiple-use projects. RTP was created by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and has been subsequently included in each succeeding transportation reauthorization legislation, including the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) signed by the President in July 2012.

 

If a state opts out of RTP...

● The state will lose access to millions of additional dollars in partner funding, including additional funds from non-DOT Federal partners, as well as in-kind services, including the work of volunteers, that RTP funding has traditionally leveraged to support RTP-funded projects.

● Projects in the state will no longer be exempt from treatment as projects on a Federal-aid highway, which will mean increased costs.

● The state will lose the funding flexibility allowed by RTP and will be unable to spend funds directly for state-approved projects.

● Nonprofit organizations and other private-sector partners will no longer be eligible to receive direct funding from the state, limiting a key means of cost-effective project management.

● Funding of trail maintenance and program administration will no longer be authorized.

● The state Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, representing all state trail users in the oversight and planning of projects, will be essentially eliminated and the value of the members’ cooperation and input will be lost.

● Federal support will be lost for key programs like the RTP database and technical assistance, research and training directly related to the program’s administration, which are all underwritten by a return to the DOT of one percent of state RTP funds.

● The clear link between the RTP, which is funded by Federal gas taxes, and the trail enthusiasts, who pay those taxes, will be lost, denying those users the assurance that benefits they paid for will be received.

RTP is the foundation for state trail programs across the country. Its loss would seriously damage, if not destroy, most existing state trails programs. RTP is a flexible, responsive, proven program that leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support from other sources for trails, encourages productive cooperation among trail users, and facilitates healthy outdoor recreation and associated, badly needed economic activity in countless communities. There are thousands of great RTP projects across the country. For examples, visit www.americantrails.org/rtp/crtawards.html.

In the midst of major program consolidation in the MAP-21 transportation legislation, the U.S. Congress decided to maintain RTP as a unique program – because RTP works!


Background on the Recreational Trails Program

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