Supporting Trails


This page provides the facts on current issues, debates, and the ongoing efforts of American Trails to continue its 25 years of support for positive policies and funding for trails and greenways. Check this page for news on federal funding for trails and bicycle/pedestrian programs, budgets for federal land management and outdoor recreation, and other bills in Congress that affect trails and public lands.


Current Alerts and Legislation

Click on the links below for more details


ALERT: Sept. 6, 2017: Threat to the RTP - and All Federal Funding for Trails, Walking and Biking

From the American Recreation Coalition and Coalition for Recreational Trails: "Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) has introduced a harmful amendment to the House appropriations bill that would allow states to recall all unused federal funding from trails, walking, and biking – which would include Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funding. According to CRT Co-Chair Marianne Fowler, “When Congress passed the FAST Act in 2015, they also included a fiscally responsible provision to take back funds that states did not use. These ‘recalls’ are proportional: if 10 percent of a state’s unused funding is from walking and biking, then those funds should make up 10 percent of what a state sends back. In the past, the recall has also excluded funds passed down to regions and local communities.” Rep. Woodall’s amendment changes that approach, allowing states to target all unused funding for trails, walking and biking.

** Sept. 8, 2017 Update: The amendment passed by a voice vote. Rep. Woodall during his House floor time stated, "What this amendment would do is allow our local Departments of Transportation, our State Department of Transportation, maximum flexibility in meeting this Federal mandate to rescind those $800 million worth of unobligated funds." In opposition, Rep. Price (D-NC) said "The set-asides in the bill reflect the agreement in the FAST Act. Therefore, before legislating on this, we need to be clear about how this would work and whether it does, in fact, violate the premises of the FAST Act and other questions raised by our colleagues."



ALERT: June 23, 2017: Administration's budget for fiscal year 2018 proposes cuts to trail programs

From the American Hiking Society: "The proposed budget for trails and the federal agencies that manage and maintain trails on federal lands fails to provide for even the most basic necessities needed to maintain and manage these critical recreation resources. A sign-on letter was carefully crafted in partnership with American Trails, Backcountry Horsemen of America, and the Partnership for the National Trails System, reflecting the level of concern among all trail user groups." AHS is requesting other organizations to add their names to the sign-on letter which will be provided to the appropriators and other members of Congress. Download pdf of sign-on letter...

Read more about Supporting Trails Funding in 2018 Federal Budget...



NEWS: October 31, 2016: 25th anniversary of Recreational Trails Program is December 18, 2016

December 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the law that created the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), one of the most important sources of funding for trail projects. Through all the years of competition for Federal dollars, the program has been continued helping States, volunteer groups, and project sponsors to improve our nationwide system of trails.

Read more about the 25th anniversary of the Recreational Trails Program...



NEWS: June 9, 2016: 2016 Awards for Recreational Trails Program projects announced by CRT

Winners have been announced for the 2016 Annual Achievement Awards in recognition of outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds. The awards ceremony hosted by the Coalition for Recreational Trails was held in Washington, DC on June 8, 2016 at U.S. House of Representatives offices. The awards are part of annual efforts by national trails and outdoor recreation organizations to promote the importance of RTP funding to States across America.

See details and photos of trail programs and project sponsors honored for 2016...


NEWS: April 26, 2016: Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorized in Senate energy bill

The U.S. Senate approved legislation to make the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent. The legislation is part of a comprehensive energy bill (S 2012) and would give more emphasis to state grants while providing an extra $150 million per year to National Park Service maintenance. The underlying energy bill now goes to a conference committee with a variety of House versions. Read more about LWCF...


NEWS: April 21, 2016: Tennessee bill attacking bicycle and pedestrian funding killed

A controversial legislative bill restricting Tennessee cities and counties' use of gas taxes (RTP funds) for parks, greenways, bike lanes, and similar infrastructure is dead for the year. House Bill 1650 (and its companion bill SB 1716) was officially "taken off notice" by its sponsors in the Tennessee legislature, effectively killing the bill. Read more...


NEWS: April 21, 2016: LWCF announces 2016 awards

Nearly $95 million will be distributed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to support conservation and recreation projects in local communities. The funds, which are generated out of a portion of the lease revenue from offshore oil and gas development, support State-identified and community-supported projects that create jobs, contribute to local economies, and grow outdoor recreational opportunities in virtually every county across the country. Read more...


NEWS: February 2, 2016: Nominate a trails project for CRT's Recreational Trails Program Achievement Awards

The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations, is pleased to announce its 2016 achievement awards to recognize outstanding trail projects funded by the national Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The awards will be presented in Washington, D.C. during Great Outdoors Month® on June 8, 2016 as part of the Coalition’s ongoing effort to build awareness and appreciation of this highly successful program, which has greatly enhanced the quantity and quality of trail experiences available to the public. The awards ceremony will be held on Capitol Hill and will encourage Members of Congress to join us in honoring the outstanding achievements of their constituents.

Award winners will be selected from projects nominated by public agencies, trail administrators or other project sponsors. Projects must be completed in order to receive an award. In addition, projects completed before 2008 are ineligible. Project award categories will include: construction and design; maintenance and rehabilitation; public-private partnerships and access to public lands; community linkage; education and communication; accessibility enhancement; multiple-use management and “corridor sharing”; use of youth conservation/service corps and community outreach; as well as a new category titled engaging public-sector partners. Read more...


Download Nomination Form...


NEWS: December 21, 2015: Appropriators boost LWCF three ways in 2016 money bill

From the FEDERAL PARKS & RECREATION BULLETIN #15: The House and Senate gave final approval December 18 to an omnibus appropriations bill (HR 2029) with significant assistance to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). President Obama signed the bill into law the same day.

In effect LWCF went three-for-four in a House-Senate conference agreement on HR 2029, with the state side program the big winner.

  • First, Congress extended the underlying program as is for three years. 
  • Second, it put up $110 million for state side grants, more than twice as much as in current years.
  • Third, it approved a $56.6 million increase for federal land acquisition over fiscal 2015.
  • But in the fourth area, the appropriators did not extend the program permanently, just for the three years.

Fiscal 2016 LWCF appropriation: In addition to the program reauthorization HR 2029 makes these allocations:

LWCF FEDERAL: HR 2029 includes $234.2 million for the traditional federal land acquisition side of LWCF. That represents a $56.6 million increase from a fiscal 2015 appropriation of $177.6. By agency the Bureau of Land Management will receive $38.6 million compared to $20 million in fiscal 2015; the Fish and Wildlife Service will receive $68.5 million compared to $47.5 million; the Park Service will receive $63.7 million compared to $51 million; and the Forest Service will receive $63.4 million compared to $47.5 million.

LWCF STATE: HR 2029 appropriates $110 million, compared to $48 million in fiscal 2015.


NEWS: December 18, 2015: Land & Water Conservation Fund extended for three years

The House and Senate gave final approval December 18 to an Omnibus Appropriations Bill (HR 2029) with significant assistance to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). President Obama signed the bill into law the same day. It reauthorizes the Land & Water Conservation Fund through FY 2018 with the current authorities and potential funding of $900 million annually. The bill allocates $450 million for land acquisition projects in 2016 and includes funding for National Scenic and Historic Trails. This funding is $143 million more than Congress has appropriated in each of the past two fiscal years. Read more...


NEWS: December 7, 2015: Recreational Trails Program achieves major victory for trails and bike/ped funding.

From the Coalition of Recreational Trails: Working together as a potent national force as the Coalition for Recreational Trails, we have achieved a major victory in protecting the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in the recent transportation reauthorization process. Conferees from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have agreed to new legislation, which covers the next five years (2016-2020), and the bill was signed into law by the President. The RTP is essentially unchanged from MAP-21. Annual funding remains at the same $85 million level over the five years and will be distributed among the states according to the same formula that has been in place since 2009. Unfortunately, the provision allowing a governor to opt out of the RTP also remains in place. Although only one state – Connecticut – has opted out this year, it will be important for the trails community to remain vigilant – just in case other governors appear ready to consider the opt-out provision. Many thanks to our bipartisan trails champions in the U.S. Congress and to all the RTP advocates across the country. Your unwavering support for this important and effective program made this wonderful victory possible.


Happy trails ahead!

~Marianne Wesley Fowler and Derrick A. Crandall, Co-Chairs, Coalition for Recreational Trails

View the full version of the Fast Act…


NEWS: November 26, 2015: Land and Water Conservation Fund extension gains new life.

Reauthorization of the LWCF legislation, which channels federal funds to parks and public lands, is apparently being discussed by lawmakers over the Thanksgiving weekend. On Nov. 19, The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources did pass a previously negotiated LWCF reauthorization agreement and added it to Chairwoman Murkowski's Sportsmen's Act (S. 556). While uncertain whether this bill will move forward, the good news is that it reaffirmed bipartisan support for LWCF reauthorization in the Senate. Sens. Murkowski and Cantwell had hammered out the bipartisan LWCF agreement early this year.


NEWS: November 4, 2015: Anti-Recreational Trails Program amendments fail to gain support.

From the Coalition for Recreational Trails: In case you haven’t already heard the wonderful news, neither of the anti-RTP amendments that we alerted you about last Friday will be considered on the House floor. The first one (#69) was withdrawn by Representative Buddy Carter. The second one (#158), filed by Representative Ted Yoho, did not make it through the Rules Committee’s vetting process yesterday. As a result, the RTP will be part of the Transportation Reauthorization bill that is eventually approved by the House of Representatives. And since the RTP was included in the legislation already passed by the Senate, we have every reason to expect that the Recreational Trails Program will be in the final version of the legislation that emerges from the House/Senate conference. We are very grateful to the RTP supporters all over the country who made their voices heard in the last few days. Your strong support saved a program of great importance to the entire trails community. Congratulations on this most impressive achievement.



arrow See many more past alerts, campaigns, and actions on the ARCHIVES page...

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