Recreational Trails Program Up for Reauthorization
RELEASE: May 7, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Bridget Harrison
The American Horse Council (AHC) is working to preserve the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP). If Congress does not take action this year this program could no longer be available to recreational riders.
The RTP provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. It was created in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and was last re-authorized in 2005 as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. This law is about to expire. The RTP will have to be re-authorized in the next national surface transportation program bill if it is to continue.
Since its inception, the RTP has provided approximately $677 million for thousands of state and local trail projects across the country, including many that benefit equestrians. RTP projects consist of construction, maintenance and restoration of trails and trail-related facilities, as well as the acquisition of easements or property for trails.
Although each state manages its own program, 30% of RTP funds must be spent on non-motorized projects like equestrian trails, 30% on motorized, and 40% percent on multi-use projects.
“The RTP is one of the few sources for federal funding of trail projects that are not on federal land. The program is a great resource for equestrians to fund projects in their state and local parks,” said AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass.
In the coming months Congress is expected to begin work on the next five-year highway bill. The AHC, in conjunction with a broad coalition of recreational trail users is requesting that Congress not only re-authorized the RTP, but also increase funding for the program to $555 million to be spent over the five years of the bill.
The AHC urges recreational riders to contact their members of Congress to voice support for this program. “This is a great program, and I hope equestrians will take the time to call or write their Representatives and Senators and let them know this program is important to the horse community,” said AHC President Jay Hickey.