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Trails legislation news from Washington, DC

CARA funding bill passes another hurdle

From National Governors' Association

After several days of debate, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) July 25 on a 13-7 vote. The legislation, which now moves to the full Senate for consideration, dedicates revenue from offshore oil and gas leases to conservation programs including wildlife, land and water restoration, historic preservation, outdoor recreation and conservation-related education activities.

"This legislation is one of the governors' top priorities," said NGA Chairman Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening. "Today's vote brings us one step closer to securing a commitment from the federal government to help state and local governments protect America's open spaces, waterways, and historic places. I urge the full Senate to swiftly approve the measure."

The House passed similar legislation (H.R. 701) in May. The Senate bill would reinvest almost $3 billion annually in federal offshore oil and gas revenue back into natural resources conservation programs, including providing:

Advocates hope to get CARA passed before Congress adjourns October. 6. For more information, see www.AmericanTrails.org or contact National Recreation & Park Association Public Policy: (202) 887-0290, or nrpapolicy@aol.com.

"Trails Willing Seller Act" would allow acquisitions

Between 1978 and 1986, Congress designated nine national scenic and historic trails but prohibited their managers from acquiring land with federal funds to protect the trail corridors. H.R. 2267 and S 1729 would amend the National Trails System Act, providing willing seller land acquisition authority to the Federal agencies for the other nine trails.

The legislation would not commit the Federal government to trail spending but would allow managers to purchase land to protect the national trails as opportunities arise. For each individual parcel, Congress could appropriate money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

For more information, contact Celina Montorfano, American Hiking Society at (202) or CMontorfano@americanhiking.org

 

Rail trail payment bill faces uncertain future

Rep Jim Ryun of Kansas is well-known for sponsoring a bill that could hugely impact rail-trail conversions nationwide. H.R.4086 would require "fair and reasonable compensation... to the person to whom such right-of-way would revert upon abandonment for railroad purposes."

Ryun's bill was prompted by a ruling by the U. S. Court of Claims that the government must pay hundreds of Missourians who own land along the 200-mile Katy Trail and 6.2-mile Grant's Trail. The federal rails-to-trails law imposed a new recreational easement, the ruling said, and in so doing, created a federal debt to the affected landowners.

Both the ultimate outcome of the ruling and Ryun's bill are uncertain at this point. H.R.4086 was referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands. where hearings were held last May. We were told by a Kansas trail advocate that in his opinion, the bill is unlikely to surface again in this Congress.


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