The Recreational Trails Program (RTP), the funding program that has sustained state trail programs for two decades, has been reauthorized as part of the transportation bill approved by Congress on June 29. The bill was signed by President Barack Obama on July 6. Under the new legislation, which will fund transportation programs through Sept. 30, 2014, the RTP will receive $85 million in annual funding for the next two fiscal years.
As a matching assistance program, the RTP provides funding for the acquisition and/or development of state recreational trail projects. Money for the program comes from the Highway Trust Fund through the federal motor fuel excise tax paid by users of off-road recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and ATVs.
Since the RTP was first authorized in 1991, it has become the foundation for state trail programs nationwide, providing funding for tens of thousands of trail projects. Leaders of the Coalition for Recreational Trails, the federation of national and regional trail-related organizations whose members have supported the effective implementation, enhancement and extension of the program since 1992, championed the move. The coalition also thanked its Congressional members for their support.
“We are grateful to Sen. [Amy] Klobuchar [D-Minn.], whose strong commitment to the RTP and ability to build a bipartisan alliance to support the program ensured that dedicated funding for RTP was included in MAP-21, the Senate’s reauthorization bill, and then made part of the final bill approved by the conference committee,” said Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition.
The coalition also recognized the efforts of Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine).