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Legislation affecting trails, parks, and public lands: May 2007

For current news on legislation, federal agencies, and the Washington, DC scene, as well as jobs and opportunities nationwide, see the News & Action area.
From the Spring 2007 issue of the American Trails Magazine.

By Lynn Brown

photo: horses on backcountry trail
Some of Griffith Park's trails seem far from the surrounding city

Few States' RTP programs are affected by FY 07 rescission

In FY 06, Congress directed three rescissions. Surprisingly and thankfully, only eight States chose to take from the RTP. 

The Coalition for Recreational Trails has been tracking how the FY 07, $3.47 billion transportation budget rescission has affected the Recreational Trails Program. They have heard from 41 States and DC so far. There is mostly good news. Twenty-two States know their funds are safe, seven States know for certain that some of their funds will be taken, and the remaining are unsure, but most remain optimistic. No one said they expected all of their funding to be taken.

Soon, the official amounts taken will be available on the Federal Highway Administration website, listed by State: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrails/recfunds.htm.

 

LWCF State Assistance advocacy ramped up

News from the National Recreation and Park Association

Since January, park and recreation advocates have been encouraging the U.S. Congress to provide adequate funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) State Assistance program which is once again proposed for termination in the President's 2008 proposed budget. Public Policy staff and NRPA members have coordinated a nationwide advocacy effort to provide support for this vital program in both the House and the Senate.

In the Senate, 44 Senators signed on to a Dear Colleague letter requesting the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to provide $125 million for LWCF State Assistance. In the House, 122 House Members signed on to a Dear Colleague letter requesting the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to provide $100 million for LWCF State Assistance.

Please continue to let your Members of Congress know how important this program is to your community and that you strongly oppose the President's 2008 budget request to terminate the program.

 

HIPAA Act addresses concern about recreational liability

Your immediate action is needed to ensure proper health care benefits for trail enthusiasts everywhere!

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) recently introduced S. 616 and Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) introduced H.R. 1076: "The HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act."

S. 616 and H.R. 1076 aim at ending health care discrimination for individuals participating in legal transportation and recreational activities&emdash; activities like horseback riding, motorcycling, snowmobiling, skiing, and all-terrain vehicle riding since these activities are listed as "risky." This legislation addresses a loophole caused by a Department of Health and Human Services' rule making it possible for health care benefits to be denied to those who are injured while participating in recreational trails activities.

We are urging all trail enthusiasts to notify their Senators and Representatives to ask them to co-sponsor and support this bill.

 

Funding increase needed for the RTCA Program

If the Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program has been important to you, please act now and ask your Congress members for this budget increase in the amount of $3.8 million.

The RTCA program budget should be increased by $3.8 million in 2008 to $12 million to remedy the program's continued steady erosion, compensate for losses due to inflation, and enable the program to respond effectively and efficiently to growing needs and opportunities in communities throughout the country.

To call your Member of Congress: US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121

For information on bills in Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/

Visit the American Trails website at www.AmericanTrails.org for updates.

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