|Act Now to Make Sure Congress Renews and Expands the Recreational Trails Program|
Ask Congress to fund the Recreational Trails Program at $143 million a year in TEA-3 -- make your state a great place to bike, hike and ride.
Congress Should Renew and Expand the Recreational Trails Program
When the nation's transportation programs are re-authorized this year in Congress, the highly successful Recreational Trails Program (RTP) should be renewed and expanded. During the 10-year history of the program, the RTP has helped communities build and repair thousands of miles of trails involving 5,500 projects in all 50 states. In all, more than $300 million has been distributed to states since 1991.
Funding Benefits All Trail Users - Hikers, Bikers, Equestrians and OHVers
The RTP was designed to split funds among non-motorized, multiple use and off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails in a 30-40-30 split. Hikers, bikers, equestrians, cross-country skiers, trail runners, snowmobilers and OHV users all benefit from the program.
More Needs to Be Done - Thousands of Projects Remain Unfunded
Although the RTP has proven itself, states have no choice but to reject thousands of project proposals annually as demand for limited dollars is high.
Fund RTP at $143 Million/Year - RTP Formula Justification
The RTP was created by Congress to utilize funds deposited into the Highway Trust Fund which are attributable to the federal taxes paid on fuel used for off-road recreation. In September 2002, the FHWA reported that $286 million in federal excise taxes is collected annually on fuel used for off-highway vehicle recreational activities, including the use of 4x4s, snowmobiles, ATVs and off-road motorcycles.
All taxes paid on fuel used for off-road recreation should be used for the RTP, yet currently only 17.5 percent of the collected taxes are returned to the program - roughly $50 million a year. We encourage Congress to return 50 percent of the taxes collected ($143 million a year or $858 million during the six-year surface transportation act) to the RTP program. Congress will retain 50 percent of the taxes ($858 million) to spend on other national priorities.
RTP Leverages Local Dollars at More than a One-to-One Match
RTP grants require local sponsors to generate at least 20 percent of project costs. But in most communities, momentum for trail projects leverages at least $1 for every federal dollar spent. The RTP is extremely effective because it brings in more local money than federal spending. It isn't a federal handout - it uses taxes paid by recreationalists as an incentive program to rally local and state governments, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders around trail projects.
Trails Help Combat Obesity and Encourage Outdoor Activity
Trails are an essential element in the nation's growing effort to address preventable public-health threats, including heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes - all associated with inactivity-related obesity. Research shows that convenient trail access increases the levels of physical activity.
Substantial investment in trails through increased funding for the RTP is an appropriate response to this public-health crisis, a crisis now estimated to cause $180 billion in additional medical costs and 300,000 premature deaths annually! A special effort should be made to improve and expand trails on federally managed lands that are readily accessible to large numbers of people, either because they are nearby population centers or along well-traveled routes.
What You Can Do:
1. Write or Call Your Members of Congress -- Find Your Member of Congress
Use this RTP Handout When Talking to or Writing Congress
Site examples of locally RTP funded trails
2. Showcase Your Local Trails - Invite Your Congressional Delegation and Staff
Invite your U.S. Senators or Representatives and their staffs to a groundbreaking, trail opening, or any community trail festivities. Invite the media and give them a chance to address the crowd. Having a member of Congress see your RTP funded trail up close ensures a lifetime of support.
Check Out Some of the Successful Recreational Trails Programs in Your State:
Alabama - Spring Park Rec. Trail
Alaska - Rendezvous Peak Trail
Arizona - Arizona Trail
Arkansas - Moccasin Gap Trails, Ozark Nat. Forest
California - Bay Area Ridge Trail
Colorado - Colorado Trail
Connecticut - Keney Park Trails
Delaware - Northern Delaware Greenway
District of Columbia. - C & O Canal Towpath
Florida - Hickey's Creek- Greenbriar Trail System
Georgia - Cloudland Canyon Lula Lake Trail
Hawaii - Kuamoo-Nounou Trail
Idaho - Idaho Centennial Trail
Illinois - Deer Grove Forest Preserve Trail
Indiana -- Walker Park Trail
Iowa - Walnut Creek Trail
Kansas - Smokey Hill Trail
Kentucky - Louisville Olmstead Park Trail
Louisiana - West Baton Rouge Riverfront Trails
Maine - Bangor Forest Trail Loop
Maryland - Patapsco Valley State Park Trails
Massachusetts - Mass. Central Rail Trail
Michigan - Michigan Van Buren Trail
Minnesota - Wobegon Trail
Mississippi - Birch Lake Forest
Missouri - MKT/Katy Trails
Montana - Yellowstone County Trails
Nebraska - Omaha Recreational Trails
Nevada - Logandale Trails
New Hampshire - Coos County Trails
New Jersey - High Point State Park Trails
New Mexico - Rancho Viejo Spur Trail
New York - Harlem Valley Rail Trail
North Carolina - Mountains to Sea Trail
North Dakota - Maah Daah Hey Trail
Ohio - Turkey Run Trail
Oklahoma - Great Plains Trail
Oregon - Lane County Trails
Pennsylvania - Capital Area Greenbelt
Rhode Island - Woonasquatucket River Greenway
South Carolina - Parson's Mtn/ Cedar Springs Trail
South Dakota - Oakland Lakes Limestone Trail
Tennessee - Buffalo Mountain Trail
Texas - Hill at Sims Greenway
Utah - North Slope Trail System
Vermont - Ludlow Calvin Coolidge Greenway
Virginia - Chinquapin Urban Trail
Washington - Mountains to Sound Greenway
West Virginia - Hatfield-McCoy Trail
Wisconsin - Kettle Moraine State Forest Trails
Wyoming - Jackson Hole Mountain Trails
Information on the RTP is available on the FHWA's website www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrail.htm and will shortly include information on individual trail projects funded by the RTP.
Ask Congress to Fund the Recreational Trails Program at $143 Million a Year in TEA-3
Make your state a great place to hike, bike and ride.www.imba.org