Recreational Trails Program Reauthorized

Pocatello, ID (July 9, 2012) — The BlueRibbon Coalition today expressed its appreciation that the two-year transportation bill, approved by Congress at the end of June and signed by the President last Friday, July 6, included reauthorization of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The bill provides $85 million dollars annually for the next two fiscal years.

Since its inception and authorization in the early 90s, the RTP has served as a model of success as a funding program for trails nation-wide. RTP derives its funding from that portion of gas tax that is used “off-highway” by the motorized recreation community. The “user-pay, user-benefit” RTP model has provided critical funding for both motorized and non-motorized trails for over two decades.

Funding through the program is allocated to state managed RTP grant programs, helping to ensure the viability of trails programs that contribute significantly to state and local economies. According to a recent independent study, outdoor recreation is a $646 billion dollar industry providing millions of jobs, tax revenue, and economic ripple effect that extends well beyond the direct economic impact to local communities.

Greg Mumm, Executive Director of the BlueRibbon Coalition said, “The fact that the Recreational Trails Program was specifically included in the transportation bill says a great deal to the value of the program. It is also a testament to the resolve and hard work of all those individuals and organizations, both motorized and non-motorized, who worked tirelessly together through the Coalition of Recreational Trails (CRT) to ensure that it was part of the bill.”

Mumm continued, “We are all especially grateful to those champions in Congress, including Senator Klobuchar, Representative Petri, Representative Michaud, and others, who worked so hard to make certain the Program was included in the final bill.”

The language of this latest reauthorization of the RTP does include a new provision for individual states to opt out of the program, leaving some work still necessary to secure each state’s participation. However, advocates of the program are confident that states recognize the importance of the program for the health and wellbeing of both their citizens and their economy.

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