Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Efforts to reauthorize the Recreational Trails Program currently underway

Efforts to reauthorize the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) are currently ongoing by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT). The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) was created in 1991, applying the "user-pay/user-benefit" philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund, returning federal gasoline taxes paid by off-highway recreationists. RTP is the foundation for state trail programs across the country. Project categories eligible for funding are many and varied, giving states the flexibility they need to administer state trail programs. The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) is an organization of national and regional trail-related groups, working together to build awareness and understanding of the RTP, and ensure that the program continues to receive adequate funding. The most recent reauthorization of RTP came through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), signed in 2012, with dedicated annual funding of $85 million for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014 as a setaside from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). With the expiration of MAP-21, efforts to reauthorize RTP are once again underway. Transportation funding was recently extended to July 31 due to lack of agreement on a long-term funding fix in Congress. A six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill was announced by U.S. Senator Jill Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on June 23, titled the "Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act" ("DRIVE)". The legislation would maintain TAP funding at $850 million per year (currently $819 million). It also continues RTP as a "set-aside" fund within TAP. As far as RTP and trail advocates are concerned, this is a win for the program, as the proposed bill does not change anything regarding the Recreational Trails Program. For more information and the latest news regarding RTP, visit AmericanTrails.org.

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