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Legislative Action Alerts
Recreational Trails Program Alert

Provided by American Trails web site

~What to do now~

Congress urged to support higher funding for RTP

Funding for the Recreational Trails Program through Fiscal Year 2009 depends on action now!

From the Coalition for Recreational Trails

Background:

The House and Senate have passed alternative versions of HR 3, the reauthorization of the nation's surface transportation programs, including the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). RTP uses a portion of the federal motorfuel taxes collected on non-highway recreational use (in snowmobiles, OHVs, etc) to provide funding to state recreational trail programs serving ALL trail interests. Since establishment of the program under ISTEA in 1991, in excess of 7,600 trail projects have been funded and are documented in a database created by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), comprised of all major national trail interests.

CRT has explained to the Congress that the taxes paid on fuel used for no-highway recreational purposes is estimated at $286 million annually, and that the "user-pay" philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund means that most of this money should be returned to benefit the nation's trail community, rather than paying for roads on which the recreation activities generating the taxes are barred. CRT recommended that 50% of these taxes be allotted to the RTP program: $143 million annually.

The House provisions for the RTP are a good faith effort to meet the CRT request. The House-passed legislation would provide $503 million for RTP over six years, increasing funding to reach $110 million for Fiscal Year 2009. In contrast, the Senate-passed RTP provision would provide flat funding of $56 million annually, or about $170 million less that the House bill and even $20 million less than the Administration requested for RTP!

The House and Senate have now appointed conferees to address the differences in the two versions of HR 3. We expect serious work to begin on June 6 and believe a decision on RTP funding may be finalized by June 15.

6/14/05: What to do now: The recreational trails community needs to make clear that the final version of HR 3 needs to include the House-passed funding for the RTP program through immediate emails, faxes, and calls to Members of Congress.

Messages:

1) The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) relies on user fees paid by recreationists.

2) RTP is a proven success, leveraging federal funds with volunteer labor, state trails funding generated through registration fees and gas taxes and private funds.

3) Recreational trail users are now unfair "donors" to other transportation programs, receiving just 18% of the taxes paid.

4) Trails funded in part through RTP are a vital part to fighting the obesity epidemic plaguing our nation.

5) The House-passed funding level for the RTP program should be included in the HR 3 conference report.

Targets: Your Members of Congress, both U.S. Senators and your House of Representatives member. To write them easily, go to:

www.house.gov/writerep  and www.senate.gov  OR TRY

www.congress.org/congressorg/home/   and enter your zip code

-- May 31, 2005


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