Recreational Trails Program


Trail supporters are concerned about the proposal by California's Governor to eliminate Recreational Trails Program funding in the "Active Transportation Program" that would replace several state funding activities.


Take action for RTP


arrow See "California likely to opt out of Recreational Trails Program"

arrow See "Key reasons for a state NOT to opt out of the Recreational Trails Program"

arrow See the list of California Projects funded through the Recreational Trails Program since its inception (pdf 278 kb)

arrow See "Gov. Brown Threatening to Erode Funding for Trails, Biking and Walking" ~ article and resources on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website

arrowCalifornia's Great Outdoors Month Proclamation by Gov. Jerry Brown (pdf 363 kb)


California's Active Transportation proposal

From American Trails


Governor Brown has proposed in the 2013-14 budget to consolidate five existing categorical programs, including the Recreational Trails Program, into one Active Transportation Program (ATP) to be administered by the California State Department of Transportation. The transportation-related goals cited in favor of this proposal include streamlining program operations, improving public health, safety, and mobility, and protecting the environment.

The five categories marked for consolidation, include the following:

• Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) (federal) ~ $72M
(Within the TAP, the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), is a discreet program with its own funding source, funded at approximately $5M for California. The RTP is currently administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Under the budget proposal, the Governor would choose to “opt-out” of the Recreational Trails Program, and this $5M would be consolidated with all of the funds under the new Active Transportation Program.)
• Safe Routes to School (state) ~ $24M
• Safe Routes to School (federal) ~ $21M
• Bicycle Transportation Account (state) ~ $7M
• Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation (state) ~ $10M

Under this new proposal, "only active transportation projects would be eligible for funding." Active transportation involves the traveler being physically active, such as by biking or walking to a destination. The following types of projects would be eligible— with increased weight given to projects that achieve multiple goals:

Eligible Projects

• Development of new bikeways, maintenance and safety improvements on existing bikeways and pedestrian facilities.
• Bike parking at employment centers, park-and-ride lots, transit terminals, and bike-carrying facilities on transit vehicles.
• Environmental mitigation projects such as urban forestry, resources lands, and roadside recreation opportunities, which support active transportation.
• Safe routes to schools and safe routes to transit.
• Educational (non-infrastructure) projects that promote active transportation.

Selection Criteria among Eligible Projects

• Potential for increasing bike and pedestrian trips, especially among students.
• Potential for reducing injuries and fatalities among bicyclists and pedestrians, and identification of hazards.
• Sustainable community elements such as: adoption of a bicycle transportation plan; local public participation in project development; identification of walking and biking routes to schools, transit and community centers; disadvantaged communities benefit; and potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
• Cost effectiveness of the project and demonstrated need of the applicant.

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) provides nonpartisan fiscal and policy analysis for the California Legislature. The LAO made these recommendations on the Active Transportation proposal which make the urban transportation focus very clear:

"First, we recommend that the Legislature amend the proposed budget trailer legislation to require that the statewide competitive grant portion of the new program be used to fund larger community–wide projects. We also recommend that the program be authorized only to fund those projects that would (1) directly improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, or (2) potentially increase the number of trips taken by bicycling or walking."

An analysis by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership provides more on the Administration's justification for the Active Transportation proposal:

"According to Acting Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Brian Kelly, this new account will allow the state to put new emphasis on modes that have long been considered 'alternative' modes in order to make them mainstream components of the transportation system. In addition, investment of the state's cap-and-trade revenue into the ATP will help California meet its AB 32 climate goals through funding to metropolitan planning organizations to meet SB 375 targets as well as rural transportation planning agencies and the state to meet SB 391 requirements."

What would be lost if the Governor opts out of the RTP under the Active Transportation Program

The current legislation for the Recreational Trails Program (under MAP-21) allows for individual states to "opt out" of the Program. We now have confirmed reports that Governor Jerry Brown's staff intends to recommend that the Governor opt out of the RTP. But the proposal as currently drafted will be a setback to recreational trails. If that happens, the funding benefits for trails the program offers will be lost.

We understand and applaud Governor Brown's goals for active transportation, and we enthusiastically support more funding for biking and walking and for improving safety for these modes of transportation.
But we disagree with the Governor opting out of the RTP. Should the Governor choose to opt-out of the Recreational Trails Program, that money will be taken away from the recreational trails community and used instead to support transportation — not recreation — in urban areas.

What would be lost in the new program would be funding for backcountry trails; hiking, equestrian, and mountain bike routes; volunteer projects, and youth and conservation corps work. Even bikeway projects on local and state parks or federal lands would be unlikely funding candidates. Finally, this would eliminate the 30% of RTP funds currently being spent on motorized trail management on state and federal lands.

American Trails, a partner in the Coalition for Recreational Trails, urges those who support the many kinds of trail activities funded by RTP to learn more and take action to help save the Recreational Trails Program in California.

This issue is bigger than California ~ a step backward for trails in California, will be a huge blow to RTP nationally!

It took a national effort to get the RTP program, and it will take another such herculean effort on the part of trail enthusiasts in CA to help stop what could be a domino effect for the entire program. This is truly a situation in which “what happens in California, will not stay in California.” It is essential to the integrity of the Recreational Trails Program nationally that Governor Brown not opt out of the RTP in California.


arrow Read more about the Recreational Trails Program and California's proposal to eliminate it:

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