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Reauthorizing Federal trail funds... bills in Congress

From Trail Tracks, New Years 2004, the newsletter of American Trails

Two bill versions seek to reauthorize TEA funds

House and Senate Committees have each passed versions of a bill to reauthorize the Transportation Equity Act (TEA), the multi-year authorization of funds for the Highway Trust Fund, which funds programs that include the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), Transportation Enhancements (TE), and the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (Wallop/Breaux).

The bills passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (S. 1072) and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (H.R.3550) take different approaches. The Senate bill, called SAFETEA, concentrates on policy and procedure and avoids setting spending priorities and amounts. The House bill, H.R.3550, called TEA-LU (Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users), is more specific about funding and makes detailed apportionments of trust revenues to programs and spending categories, to a total of approximately $375 billion, considerably more than the $247 billion cost projected by the Administration.

Action on these bills will resume when Congress returns January 20, 2004 to once again attempt to pass the FY 2004 "omnibus" appropriation bill for more than one-half of government. It seems likely that Congress wants to pass a comprehensive reauthorization bill by the time the short-term extension of TEA-21 expires on March 1, 2004.

For more news, links, and analysis on SAFETEA and TEA-LU, see our website at Pick SAFETEA from the pull-down "Select a topic" menu.

Recreational Trails funds may triple

The Recreational Trails Program provides $50 million annually to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail uses. The proposal in the House version of Federal transportation funding (TEA-LU) would substantially increase funding for Recreational Trails:

$ 70 million in 2004

$ 90 million in 2005

$110 million in 2006

$130 million in 2007

$150 million in 2008

$150 million in 2009

For more on funding for trails, visit our website at Pick "Recreational Trails Program" from the pull-down "Select a topic" menu.

TRAIL Act to enforce public lands regulations

H.R. 3247, the Trail Responsibility and Accountability for Improving our Lands (TRAIL) Act of 2003, would provide for stricter enforcement of public lands regulations. The bill would create "consistent fines and penalties governing the use of public lands" for Federal land management agencies.

The bill also provides that any fines collected could be used to cover the cost of any improvement, protection or rehabilitation of public lands as a result of the offense which led to the fine.

For updates on bills in Congress and funding for trails see NEWS & ALERTS


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