By Marianne Wesley Fowler and Derrick A. Crandall, Co-Chairs, Coalition for Recreational Trails
December 7, 2015
Working together as a potent national force as the Coalition for Recreational Trails, we have achieved a major victory in protecting the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in the recent transportation reauthorization process. Conferees from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have agreed to new legislation, which covers the next five years (2016-2020), and the bill was signed into law by the President.
The RTP is essentially unchanged from MAP-21. Annual funding remains at the same $85 million level over the five years and will be distributed among the states according to the same formula that has been in place since 2009. Unfortunately, the provision allowing a governor to opt out of the RTP also remains in place. Although only one state, Connecticut, has opted out this year, it will be important for the trails community to remain vigilant, just in case other governors appear ready to consider the opt-out provision.
Many thanks to our bipartisan trails champions in the U.S. Congress and to all the RTP advocates across the country. Your unwavering support for this important and effective program made this wonderful victory possible.
Editor’s Note: In 2015, the Recreational Trails Program provided approximately $1.5 million to Montana for maintenance, improvements and construction of trails. These funds must be distributed as follows: 30% motorized ($450,000), 30% nonmotorized ($450,000), 40% multiple use ($600,000). Multiple use includes trails that allow for more than one type of use. This funding level should remain the same through FY 2020!