Supporting Trails

 

This page provides the facts on current issues, debates, and the ongoing efforts of American Trails to continue its 25 years of support for positive policies and funding for trails and greenways. Check this page for news on federal funding for trails and bicycle/pedestrian programs, budgets for federal land management and outdoor recreation, and other bills in Congress that affect trails and public lands.

 

Current Alerts and Legislation

Click on the links below for more details

 

NEWS: May 6, 2015: Organizations ask USDOT Secretary Foxx to step up bike/ped safety initiatives. Organizations are being asked to sign on to a letter to USDOT Secretary Foxx supporting policies to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The goal is to communicate the importance of making strategic reforms to administrative policies and practices that will maximize the impact of DOT's safety agenda for people walking and cycling. The letter, written by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, asks DOT to inventory agency policies and practices to identify reform opportunities and we specify a series of issues-like speed limits, transit access, and integrating health into transportation-that could make the reform real. Read more...

 


NEWS: May 1, 2015: Senate introduces National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act as companion to House bill. Senate Bill 1110 (S. 1110) is a companion bill to H.R. 845 which is currently before the House of Representatives. The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act responds, in part, to a June 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed the status and causes of the Forest Service trail maintenance backlog. It would would direct the Forest Service to develop strategies to more effectively use volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails. The bill was introduced at the request of Back Country Horsemen of America, Wilderness Society, and American Horse Council. Read more about the partnership supporting the National Forest Trails System Stewardship Act...

 


NEWS: April 28, 2015: Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act introduced. Senators Cochran and Cardin have introduced S. 705 to amend language related to the Transportation Alternatives Program, which provides federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs as well as the Recreational Trails Program. According to Sen. Cochran, the bill would: • Restore funding for TAP to the 2012 funding levels that existed for the three consolidated programs (Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails) that were consolidated to create TAP. • Ensure that two-thirds of the program’s funds are distributed by population, ensuring that rural areas, small towns and large cities are able to access appropriate shares of resources. • Give states the flexibility to meet federal cost-sharing requirements across the entire program, which would result in lower matching requirements for lower-resourced communities being offset by higher matches from larger communities within a state. Read text of the bill...

Fact Sheets about S. 705 are available from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the League of American Bicyclists. A S. 705 grassroots alert draft is also available with text explaining the bill.

See the final sign-on letter supporting S. 705, with 42 organizations signing on to promote the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act and the letter from American Trails stating that "if there is an increase in transportation funding and/or an increase in TAP funding, that American Trails would of course request an increase in Recreational Trails Program funding as well."

 


NEWS: April 21, 2015: Speak Up for Trails, Walking, and Biking! As the May 31 expiration date for Federal transportation funding (MAP-21) approaches, a chorus of voices is calling for the elimination of the Transportation Alternatives Program and its funding for bike/ped, trail, and safe routes to school facilities in the next transportation bill. Now is the time to fight back! The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has written a Pro-TAP Letter to Congress and is asking for organizations to sign on by April 24. We ask our lawmakers to protect and prioritize our programs for trails, walking and biking in the current reauthorization. Read more and see the letter supporting TAP...

 


NEWS: March 19, 2015: Massie: No More Bike Paths, Trails, Light Rail from Highway Trust Fund. Congressman Thomas Massie introduced the DRIVE (Developing Roadway Infrastructure for a Vibrant Economy) Act of 2015 with Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI), Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), and Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) as original co-sponsors. The bill (H.R. 1461) would "help keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent and improve our national infrastructure, without raising the gas tax, by refocusing the Highway Trust Fund on its original and proper role of building and maintaining federal highways and bridges." The bill would eliminate funding for bike paths, sidewalks, mass transit, and other local projects. Read more ...

 


NEWS: March 15, 2015: Congressional allies champion Recreational Trails Program. When Congress last enacted major transportation legislation, the Recreational Trails Program funding was retained despite major efforts to reduce the number of federal surface transportation programs by three-quarters. This success was due not only to strong congressional champions, but also to the efforts of trail enthusiasts and advocacy organizations united through the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT). Derrick Crandall, Co-Chair of the CRT, details these efforts and the current status of support among our Senators and Representatives for continuing essential trails funding. Read more ...

 


NEWS: February 13, 2015: Administration asks for full funding of LWCF and increases in Federal land and recreation expenditures. According to February 3, 2015 Federal Parks & Recreation, funding levels for Federal lands and related recreation programs would rise somewhat over FY2014. National Park Service administration, for instance, would rise to $3.048 billion, an increase of $433 million over fiscal 2015. For BLM recreation the administration recommended $75.4 million compared to a fiscal 2015 appropriation of $67 million. Read more on proposed Federal land budgets for FY2016...

The administration also requests $900 million per year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Out of that $53.2 million would go to the States for local park and trail grant programs. The proposal assumes that Congress will pass new legislation to guarantee $900 million per year for LWCF. Read more on LWCF funding proposals...

 


NEWS: February 13, 2015: Administration makes FY2016 Federal transportation budget request. The Obama administration on February 2 asked Congress to allocate $847 million to a Transportation Alternatives Program, up $27 million from a fiscal 2015 allocation of $820 million. The challenge is how to boost overall transportation funding. The President proposed a restructuring of the tax code to generate revenue from corporations that seek to repatriate income from foreign countries. Others have suggested an increase in the Federal fuel tax, a politically difficult stance for many in Congress.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in its budget statement, “The program creates safe, accessible, attractive, and environmentally sensitive communities where people want to live, work, and engage in recreation. This program provides resources to expand transportation choices and enhance the transportation experience.”

The February 3, 2015 Federal Parks & Recreation summed up the concern for trail advocates: "The proposals are crucial to outdoor programs because without significant new sources of money Congressional leaders will be tempted to limit surface transportation spending to core highway construction. And they might terminate recreation programs such as transportation enhancements and recreational trails."

 


NEWS: Heritage Foundation focuses on Highway Trust Fund spending. A book of government cost-cutting ideas offered by the conservative Heritage Foundation on Thursday includes a big one for transportation: limit spending from the Highway Trust Fund only to the amount of revenue the fund collects from federal highway taxes (roughly $39 billion annually).

The Heritage Budget Book said that “Congress diverts at least 25 percent of HTF dollars to non-road, non-bridge projects, including bicycle and nature paths, sidewalks, subways and buses, landscaping, and related low-priority and purely local activities.” See the full story by Roll Call at:
http://blogs.rollcall.com/the-container/heritage-focus-highway-spending-on-highways/

 


NEWS: FEB. 11, 2015 - 10:00 am EST: House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing on “Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill: Laying the Foundation for U.S. Economic Growth and Job Creation Part I”.

Supporters of trail and bike/ped funding were urged to tweet questions or comments (#StuckInTraffic) in support of the Recreational Trails Program prior to or during the Twitter Town Hall. Read more...

 


 

PAST CAMPAIGNS and EARLIER NEWS

 

The House approved HR 3979 on December 4 to fund a wide variety of national parks initiatives. According to Dec. 19, 2014 Federal Parks & Recreation, the bill includes funding for additions to several national park units and extend several national heritage areas. It would also authorize the Treasury Department to mint $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half-dollar coins during 2016 for the NPS Centennial. The provisions are part of an omnibus bill, titled "National Defense Authorization Act," which includes many add-on programs. Read more...

 


Another try for ADT designation: National Discovery Trails Act of 2013 (H.R. 3022 and S. 2346)

July 21, 2014: A hearing is scheduled for Jul 23, 2014 (2:30) p.m by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources - Subcommittee on National Parks. S. 2346 would (1) establish a national system of discovery trails under the National Trails Act and (2) designate the American Discovery Trail the first unit of the discovery trails. See S. 2346 Bill Summary and Status...

 


H.R. 4886: National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2014

June 20, 2014: Trail Stewardship Act would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to publish in the Federal Register a strategy to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in National Forest System trail maintenance, and for other purposes. This bill was assigned to a congressional committee on June 18, 2014, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole. Read more...

 


Administration sends 2014 transportation funding proposal to Congress

May 3, 2014: The Obama administration unveiled a new plan for Federal transportation programs, which has included funding for trails as well as bicycle/pedestrian facilities and related programs. Trail advocates are closely watching these developments to ensure that such funding continues. Read more...

 


 Senators support continuation of the Recreational Trails Program

arrow See the final Senate Dear Colleague Letter signed by 24 Senators with 18 Democrats and 6 Republicans (pdf 1.4 mb)

April 29, 2014: The Coalition for Recreational Trails has been working with members and staff of the United States Senate to boost awareness of and support for the Recreational Trails Program. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jim Risch (R-ID), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have released a Dear Colleague letter to the Senate Transportation Committee, supporting the continuation of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in the next surface transportation authorization bill.

arrow Read more about the campaign for reauthorizing the Recreational Trails Program...

 


Sept. 1, 2014: Signatures urged to letter asking U.S. DOT to include public health considerations in their proposed Transportation Planning rule

The Partnership for Active Transportation is circulating a sign-on letter to encourage the U.S. Department of Transportation to require the inclusion of public health considerations in transportation planning and to improve the provisions related to walking and biking. This will ensure that safe and convenient active-transportation networks are available for millions of Americas, which will help prevent chronic diseases and premature deaths associated with a lack of physical activity and ultimately save billions of taxpayer dollars spent on health car. Read more...

Aug. 1, 2014: S 2322: proposed Senate six-year transportation authorization bill

The Senate voted to amend the House-passed Highway Trust Fund bill but shortened the extension time so that it expires Dec. 19, 2014. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. Read more...

 

July 1, 2014: Senators Oppose funding for Forest Service LWCF

Seven Republican senators June 26 called for zeroing out Land and Water Conservation (LWCF) funding for the Forest Service in fiscal year 2015. Read more...

 

July 1, 2014: Senator seeks to eliminate TAP funding

July 30, 2014: Sen. Toomey's amendment failed to gather the 60 votes of support it needed when the Senate voted on the Transportation funding bill.

July 8, 2014: Pennsylvania organizations are urged to sign a letter to Sen. Toomey prepared by the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy opposing his amendment and supporting the continuation of TAP programs, including the RTP.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has mounted a campaign to eliminate money for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). If accepted, the Senate Finance Committee would forbid any Highway Trust Fund money from being used for TAP, which allocates more than $700 million per year to bike/ped and recreational trails programs. Read more...

June 5, 2014: The Obama administration unveiled a new plan for Federal transportation programs, which has included funding for trails as well as bicycle/pedestrian facilities and related programs. Trail advocates are closely watching these developments to ensure that such funding continues. Read more...

 

June 10, 2014: Transportation Appropriations proposal strips trails eligibility from TIGER grants

The House approved its fiscal year 2015 transportation appropriations bill (HR 4745) that would bar the use of regional grant money called TIGER for recreation and trails.

May 12, 2014: A big change to funding eligibility was included in the new House Committee on Appropriations proposed budget for transportation and housing for FY 2015. What would not be eligible are what are called "non-essential purposes, such as street-scaping, or bike and pedestrian paths." Also ineligible are ADA compliance for sidewalks or recreational trails. In short the bill proposes to limit TIGER grants to projects that “address critical transportation needs,” defined as roads and bridges, ports, and freight rail.

arrow See ACTION needed on this issue, plus links to project examples and analysis of the proposal. Read more...

 

April 9, 2014: Coalition for Recreational Trails maps out strategies for RTP reauthorization

CRT leaders met with Congressional staffers to promote continued funding for the Recreational Trails Program. They also outlined the CRT Position on Recreational Trails Program Reauthorization. The message from RTP Congressional Championsis to not wait to begin advocacy of RTP in light of announced plans by key Congressional leaders to work on MAP-21’s successor this spring. Read more...

 

April 2, 2014: Senators support continuation of the Recreational Trails Program

The Coalition for Recreational Trails announces a wonderful opportunity to boost awareness of and support for the Recreational Trails Program within the United States Senate. However, we have to take action by April 9!

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jim Risch (R-ID), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have released a Dear Colleague letter soliciting signatures for a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member on the Committee, supporting the continuation of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in the next surface transportation authorization bill.

See the Dear Colleague request and the planned letter to the EPW leadership (pdf 1.3 mb)

 

arrow See many more past alerts, campaigns, and actions on the ARCHIVES page...

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