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. Please join our efforts to document the value of trails and bicycle/pedestrian facilities as transportation infrastructure, and be an active and positive voice in the reauthorization process as well as economic stimulus proposals.
Action needed for Recreational Trails Program
May 15, 2013: The latest threat to survival of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is centered in the state that receives the largest amount of funding. California's Governor Jerry Brown is being advised to "opt out" of the RTP. If this key state turns away the RTP funding, it will weaken our chances of keeping RTP in the 2014 federal transportation bill.
October 18, 2012: Florida and Kansas were the only State to "opt out" of the Recreational Trails Program when the federal transportation funding authorization was announced earlier in 2012. Soon after, however, both made announcements that they were in fact spending significant amounts of federal dollars on trails. Apparently the campaign by trail supporters made it clear that the public DOES expect trails to be state priority, whatever the category of funding is called. Read more...
September 25, 2012: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released interim guidance documents and Q&A’s regarding implementation of MAP-21. The materials are online at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/.
September 24, 2012: FHWA offers MAP-21 Webinars on September 26 and 27! Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) invites you to participate in informational webinars on the recently enacted MAP-21 surface transportation authorization legislation. Recordings are also available for webinars that have already taken place. The webinars are designed to make you aware of the major changes brought about by MAP-21, and to provide a forum for beginning the national dialog FHWA wishes to have with you on questions and concerns as FHWA works to prepare for the October 1 implementation of these program changes and efficiencies. Click on this link to register. Scroll further down on that page to view and download the presentations and recordings of past webinars.
September 11, 2012: Only two States "opt out" of Recreational Trails Program Funding.
Aug. 23, 2012: Indiana trail supporters told their Govenor they care about trail funding, and he made a public announcement that the state would continue the Recreational Trails grants program. Read more...
August 15, 2012: Land and Water Conservation Fund supporters suggest grassroots action to take this summer to promote LWCF funding
August 14, 2012: Tell your State Governor: I support Recreational Trails Program funding!
Read more and take action to contact your Governor to be sure your State does NOT "opt-out" of funding for trails, greenways, water trails, and OHV recreation routes...
See our current Blog: Trail politics: it’s all local...
July 31 at 1 p.m. EDT: Webinar on "Transportation Alternatives Provisions of MAP-21 for Implementers" hosted by Rails to Trails Conservancy covers issues faced by local and state agencies that are responsible for implementing the new Transportation Alternatives section of MAP-21. Panelists: Christopher Douwes, trails and enhancements program manager at FHWA; Amber Thelen, TE program coordinator for Michigan DOT; Tracy Hadden Loh, research manager for RTC and director of National Transportation Enhancement Clearinghouse.
July 11, 2012: The new surface transportation agreement was passed by Congress, and was signed by the President July 6. The Recreational Trails Program is continued intact as the Kloubuchar amendment was retained. However, States may apparently opt out of the entire program. Funding is set at $ 85 million a year for two years and three months. See more details of bike/ped and trails funding in our analysis of the bill...
For other bicycle/pedestrian programs, the news is not so good. According to CQ Roll Call Reports, "The GOP also won a provision that will allow states to get out of the requirement that their road projects spend 1 percent or more on bike and pedestrian paths and landscaping." Under the new agreement, half of the money that used to fund Transportation Enhancements would flow to local Metropolitan Planning Organizations for such projects. States could still use the other half for bike/ped facilities, but they would have the flexibility to spend it on other transportation priorities instead.
The 599-page bill keeps highway and transit spending at current levels through the end of fiscal year 2014. There will be a $27.2 billion shortfall above what fuel taxes are projected to generate. See the complete MAP-21 bill as signed....
The provisions for RTP are found at page 95, under Transportation Alternatives:
‘‘(f) CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROJECTS.—Each State shall—
‘‘(1) obligate an amount of funds reserved under this section equal to the amount of the funds apportioned to the State for fiscal year 2009 under section 104(h)(2) for projects relating to recreational trails under section 206;
‘‘(2) return 1 percent of those funds to the Secretary for the administration of that program; and
‘‘(3) comply with the provisions of the administration of the recreational trails program under section 206, including the use of apportioned funds described under subsection (d)(3)(A) of that section.
‘‘(g) STATE FLEXIBILITY.—A State may opt out of the recreational trails program under subsection (f) if the Governor of the State notifies the Secretary not later than 30 days prior to apportionments being made for any fiscal year.’’.
June 21, 2012: Trail funding comes down to the wire in Congressional debate – and your help is needed NOW! Compromises are being made in conference and may be devastating for trails!
The House and Senate began a conference committee in early May to try to reconcile their two versions of a new surface transportation bill. Until this week, it has appeared that there were irreconcilable differences and many leaders in the trails world projected there most likely would be another extension until following the election. However affairs have DRAMATICALLY changed over the last couple of days, and there may very well be a bill by the June 30th deadline, when the current authorization expires.
David Hawkings of CQ Roll Call projects this is the final stretch and that there will be a handshake agreement on the highway bill between John Mica and Barbara Boxer by tomorrow evening, Mr. Hawkings states in today’s Daily Briefing, “All the indications are that both those top negotiators and their House and Senate leaders are starting to lower their hard lines on almost all the contentious issues — meaning federal transportation policy may yet get remade this summer to last through the end of next year. Yesterday’s whopping 386-34 vote in the House directing conferees to wrap up their work by the weekend is a clear sign that conservative resistance to a new public works package is fading fast and that Boehner and his fellow leaders have decided they want the bill more than the issue.” He continues, “Democratic negotiators yesterday sounded near agreement to give the House a measure of satisfaction on environmental streamlining rules for road projects, consolidating Transportation Department programs and giving states more options to shed federal mandates for roadside enhancements.”
As the debate in Congress continues, NOW is a crucial time to let your Senators and Representative know that you support funding for trails and bike/pedestrian facilities.
ACTION NEEDED: The message is simple, tell your members of Congress:
" Please preserve dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program, Transportation Enhancements, and Safe Routes to School."
IF YOU LIVE IN CALIFORNIA, it is especially important to ask Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Conference Committee, to stay strong on protecting dedicated funding for trails, walking and bicycling. Senator Boxer’s Washington office number is 202-224-3553.
Contact your Senator by visiting: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Contact your Representative by visiting: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
The Conference Committee includes 34 Senators and Representatives. It's especially important to contact your member(s) of Congress if they are on the conference committee, but all members need to hear that you support funding for trails and bike/ped facilities now!
May 29, 2012: The House and Senate plan to continue their conference the week of June 4 on crafting a new surface transportation bill. Read more in Transportation Reauthorization...
March 19, 2012: The National Association of State Park Directors along with National Recreation and Park Association and the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers are sending a letter to the members of the Senate and House Interior Appropriations Subcommittees supporting the State Assistance program of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The groups are asking for an allocation of 40% of total LWCF funding to the State Assistance program, the same amount that is provided to the federal land acquisition program, using the same formula that has been successful from FYs 1965-2011. The "stateside" LWCF program has funded many trail projects sponsored by cities and towns over the years. You can provide support from your own organization or community-- read more...
March 20, 2012: After all the rhetoric and amendments and work to support trails in the House and Senate transportation bills, it looks like there will be an extension of the current programs. Today Rep. John Mica (R-FL) said the House won't address the bill passed by the Senate, but will simply extend the funding authorization, possibly until the November elections. The House is in the spotlight on federal transportation funding, following Senate passage of its version of the bill. However, with the current authorization expires on March 31, it's apparent that Congress must now simply extend SAFETEA-LU, as it has done eight times. For trails and bike/ped programs, life would go on as it has since 2009 when the first extension took place. Next stop would be the November elections, with more rhetoric to follow.
March 12, 2012: From National Wildlife Federation: The EPA and NOAA's environmental education-based efforts strive to give educators the knowledge and skill sets to prepare students to understand, analyze, and address environmental challenges using interdisciplinary, field-based, research-based learning. The National Wildlife Federation and Campaign for Environmental Literacy invite you to sign on to two organizational sign-on letters they will send to Congress members to restore dedicated funding for EPA and NOAA's environmental education programs. DEADLINE: MARCH 15th! Read more and learn how to support federal environmental education programs...
March 8, 2012 (from Lindsey Levick, LWCF Coalition): The LWCF/Restore Act amendment passed today by a vote of 76-22, with both Democrats and Republicans on the winning side. This is a truly important victory as we move towards dedicated funding and a long term authorization for LWCF. This LWCF language had been added to the Nelson RESTORE Act amendment (#1822) which:
March 8, 2012: While the Senate transportation bill is bogged down in amendments, the House version is on hold. Faced with opposition to the House version, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that the plan now is to see what the Senate can produce. “In the meantime, we’re going to continue to have conversations with our members about a longer-term approach,” Boehner said. If the Senate bill survives, the House would have to consider that two-year proposal before current surface transportation programs expire March 31. However, with the House in recess March 9–18, yet another extension may be in the works.
March 7, 2012: President released his budget for FY 2013 (the upcoming fiscal year running Oct 1, 2012 – Sep 30, 2013). In a disappointing turn of events and despite strong support in the budget in the past, the Administration eliminated the Environmental Education Program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as funding for the Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG) program at National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
March 6, 2012: The Senate voted today on Senator Reid’s (D-NV) substitute amendment (#1761) to the transportation bill (S. 1813), incorporating 37 agreed-upon amendments. They failed to invoke cloture (failed to move forward) on the Reid substitute amendment. The vote failed: Yea 52, Nay 44, Not Voting 4. (60 votes were needed to pass the amendment)
March 5, 2012: As soon as this Tuesday, March 6th, there will be action in the U.S. Senate on the transportation bill, also known as MAP-21 or S. 1813. We need to make sure that the Klobuchar amendment -- Amendment #1661 -- to protect the RTP and its dedicated funding is part of the final bill.
Seven Senators from both parties have agreed to join Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to cosponsor the amendment: Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), James Risch (R-ID), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Mark Udall (D-CO). And we believe we have solid commitments of support from others. Read more and take acction...
February 29, 2012: Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Michael Bennett (D–CO) joined Senators Burr (R- NC) , Shaheen (D-NH), and Risch (R-ID) have joined Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) as co-sponsors of the Senate Amendment which would restore dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program. Download a copy of the Klobuchar amendment...
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy letter in support of Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s amendment to protect the Recreational Trails Program in the Senate bill was signed by 385 national, regional, statewide, and local organizations. Download the final letter with logos and signing groups... (pdf 4.6 mb)
The Senate is expected to re-open debate on amendments proposed for the transportation bill on March 1. Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would allow votes on some of those amendments in an effort to win enough votes to move toward final passage of the bill. Senator Reid, a Democrat, said "Republicans made it clear we would not be able to move forward on this bill without a vote." He added that he hoped the Senate could finish the transportation bill by the end of next week.
Congressional Quarterly, Inc. reported on issues with the House bill in "Short-Term Highway Bill in Doubt"
February 27, 2012: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has withdrawn his proposed amendment to end funding for the RTP in the House transportation bill. According to a staff member, the information provided by Coalition for Recreational Trails and other trail interests, both in Washington, DC, and in Iowa, increased both staff and Congressman King’s understanding of the logic behind the RTP program. And while he would still prefer to see the taxes go to projects aiding those paying – in this case motorized, non-highway recreational enthusiasts – the support and logic of the trails community resulted in his decision to withdraw his amendment. He is not considering offering any amendment which would alter the RTP program. Special thanks to Terry Durby, American Trails Board member, who led efforts to convince the Iowa delegation about the trails program.
February 27, 2012: "Gas tax falling short in paying for transportation needs" - By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY
February 24, 2012: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood declared that "Transportation enhancements mean greater safety for all users of America's roads" in his Fast Lane Blog. Promoting President Obama's proposed 2013 budget, he stated "Now, there's also plenty to say about the environmental and health benefits of biking and walking projects; how bicyclists and pedestrians take cars off the road and decrease traffic congestion; and how investments in livable communities with complete streets pay tremendous dividends in economic development." Read more...
February 17, 2012: The Coalition for Recreational Trails reports that our efforts to line up co-sponsors for Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) MAP-21 amendment restoring dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program have met with success. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asked to be listed as co-sponsors of the amendment, which was filed on February 15th. Since then, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) has signed on as well.
We have learned from Senator Klobuchar’s office that the amendment will not come up for consideration until after February 24th. As a result, the Senator’s office has asked that delivery of the multi-signature letter we sent you last week be delayed to a date closer to the actual consideration of the amendment. Thanks very much to everyone for your efforts to contact your Senators requesting support for the amendment.
February 15, 2012: The President issued a veto threat on the the House transportation bill (HR 7). This morning Speaker Boehner told the Republican Conference that is being pulled from the schedule for this week and will be delayed until after the President’s Day recess. "If we need more time to debate and consider amendments, that's perfectly fine with me," Mr. Boehner said. Some have expressed concern that insufficient political support would cause the House bill to fail. Earlier, President Obama had expressed support for the Senate transportation bill.
Both House and Senate bills have come under attack for their funding mechanisms. The shortfall in federal fuel tax collections is expected to increase. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the shortfall in transportation revenue will reach $14 billion in FY 2012. The House bill would spend $260 billion over five years. The Senate's plan would spend $109 billion on road and transit projects over two years. The President's new budget proposal includes $476 billion surface transportation spending over the next six year.
The FY 2013 President’s Budget requests $4 billion for a Livable Communities Program, which would apparently include bicycle/pedestrian programs: "formula and competitive grant programs to establish place-based planning, policies, and investments to help communities increase transportation choices and access to transportation services." Read more about the Administration's transportation budget proposal...
February 14, 2012: Update from Coalition for Recreational Trails:
All our efforts on behalf of RTP are moving ahead.
Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) proposed amendment to end funding for the RTP in the House transportation bill, apparently based on his concern that funds are being used for non-motorized trail use, has stirred up a furor.
Supporting bike/ped programs in the Senate:
Two adverse amendments are being proposed to the House Bill, which need to be defeated:
Ask your Representative to vote in OPPOSITION to these amendments:
February 13, 2012: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has agreed to introduce an amendment to MAP-21 that will continue the RTP as a stand-alone program with its own funding. The amendment is expected to be introduced this week – so the time for action is now.
If this amendment is approved, then the RTP should be protected in both the Senate and House transportation bills. However, for Sen. Klobuchar’s effort to be successful, we must build support for her amendment. READ MORE...
February 10, 2012: In the House, Representative Petri and five colleagues will introduce the TE/SR2S amendment on the House floor next week. A similar amendment almost passed at the H.R. 7 mark up last week. The new amendment will be almost identical to the original version with a slight tweaking of the funding allocation.
In the Senate, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has written a national organizational sign-on letter in support of each of two amendments, one of which would provide dedicated funding for Recreational Trails, and one to improve and clarify funding for TE and SRTS programs. See more about the Senate bill...
February 10, 2012: American Trails and partners in the Coalition for Recreational Trails are urging trail supporters to voice their support for dedicated funding for the both RTP and bike/ped programs. Amendments have been proposed to provide to restore dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program (Senator Klobuchar) and to protect Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School (Senators Cardin and Cochran). Learn how to support these programs now...
February 8, 2012: The Senate is expected to return to work on its version of federal transportation funding legislation. On November 9, 2011, the Environment and Public Works Committee passed its bill "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21). The bill eliminates dedicated funding for trails and bike/ped projects but maintains eligibilty for Recreational Trails, Enhancements, Scenic Byways, and Safe Routes to School. Advocates are expected to mount a campaign to ensure funding for these programs. Read more...
American Trails and partners in the Coalition for Recreational Trails are urging trail supporters to voice their support for dedicated funding for the RTP. Tell your Senators to support Recreational Trails funding, a user-pay/user-benefit program, in the Senate transportation bill (MAP-21). The CRT Council of Advisors now includes 506 supporting groups. Learn how to support RTP funding now...
February 6, 2012 (from Lindsey Levick, LWCF Coalition): On February 7, the Senate Finance Committee will mark up “The Highway Investment, Job Creation and Economic Growth Act of 2012.” This legislation will raise revenue for infrastructure spending, specifically to address a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund— a purpose for which some have suggested redirecting Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) drilling royalties that currently go toward the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It is possible that amendments may be offered that will take funding away from LWCF to use for highways. Read more...
February 3, 2012: We do have one victory to celebrate: the transportation bill just passed by the House Transportation Committee includes the Recreational Trails Program with $85 million in annual funding as a discrete program. Rep. John L. Mica, Chairman, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was thanked in a letter from the Coalition for Recreational Trails for including RTP in the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act. Hundreds of local and national trail organizations joined in efforts led by CRT to support funding and authorization for RTP. Read more and keep up to date on future strategies...
See our Blog: Working together: taking the long view of funding...
February 2, 2012: The Petri amendment FAILED on a committee vote. It would have restored dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements, state bike coordinators, and Safe Routes to School programs, as well as restoring eligibility for rail corridor preservation.
February 1, 2012: On February 2, the House Transportation Committee will vote on the "American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act" (H.R. 7). According to the Rails to Trails Conservancy's analysis, the Recreational Trails Program would be authorized at $85 million, but the Safe Routes to School program would be eliminated along with dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements. Eligibility for preserving abandoned railway corridors, including trail conversion, is specifically eliminated. See the Safe Routes to School National Partnership site for an easy way to contact your Representative. Read more about the bill and how to make your voice heard...
January 28, 2012: The House transportation committee is expected to on its version of the federal transportation funding bill (H.R. 7) with markup to be webcast live on February 2. Like the Senate bill under discussion, the House version would no longer require states to spend highway funds on non-highway projects and programs such as bicycle/pedestrian facilities. Trail supporters are urged to contact their Members of Congress to support these essential programs. Read more about the proposed bill and key dates...
January 9, 2012 (from Lindsey Levick, LWCF Coalition): The LWCF Coalition is focused on growing co-sponsorship of S. 1265 in the Senate, which amends the LWCF Act of 1965 to provide reliable authority and funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Besides targeting new Senators, supporters are urged to thank current co-sponsors, talk to target Senators about co-sponsoring, or increase positive messages about LWCF to your local and regional House members. See current list of co-sponsors and members to ask to cosponsor S. 1265.
December 11, 2011: Land and Water Conservation Fund news: "A bipartisan effort is now underway to ensure that LWCF funding is preserved in any legislative proposals that address the disposition of OCS revenues. Please lend your support by signing on to the Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Reps. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Charlie Bass (R-NH), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), and Jay Inslee (D-WA). The deadline for sign-on is December 16, 2011." Read more and take action...
December 9, 2011: Congressmen urge passage of six-year transportation funding bill. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) submitted a letter on behalf of 111 House members — composed of 62 Democrats and 49 Republicans asking the President to support a bill longer than the two-year authorization proposed by the Senate.
December 1, 2011: The long-awaited House version of the transportation funding bill will apparently be delayed until after Congress returns January 17. Rep. John Mica, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced that details of the bill would not be released as planned. An E&E News reporter quoted Rep. Mica as "saying that he would not eliminate the Transportation Enhancements program and that the bill would maintain funding for bike and pedestrian programs." That casts still more uncertainty on the details, and whether Recreational Trails would be included in any actual funding. Read more...
November 9, 2011: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its rewrite of the federal transportation bill, "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21). The bill consolidates 70 former programs and allows states to choose their own priorities, but eliminates dedicated funding for trails and bike/ped projects. A new "transportation mobility program" includes eligibilty for Recreational Trails, Enhancements, Scenic Byways, and Safe Routes to School, among many other bridge, highway, and environmental programs. Section 149 of USC title 23 would cover "congestion mitigation and air quality improvement" and also includes Recreational Trails eligibility. According to the committee, it also "Reforms the Transportation Enhancements program with more flexibility granted to the states on the use of the funds within the program." Read more...
October 24, 2011: The Senate released their Interior bill discussion draft last Friday and recommended Land and Water Conservation Fund funding level of $350 million. On the House side, the LWCF Coalition has been working with the House Committee on Appropriations to support strong levels of funding for LWCF in FY 12. Read more and see talking points...
September 8, 2011: Land and Water Conservation Fund attacked on jobs concerns
The House FY 2012 federal land management spending bill (HR 2584) will cut some conservation programs, though Park Service and Forest Service appropriations are close to FY 2011 numbers, reports the August 1 bulletin from Federal Parks & Recreation. Read more...
The August 1 bulletin from Federal Parks & Recreation newsletter reports that "the full House last week voted three times in favor of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But by the start of business today House Republicans were still on course to reduce federal acquisition alone by almost $100 million. And provide the state grant program with no money." Read more and learn how to take action...
July 26, 2011: The LWCF Coalition reports that "Congressman Broun (R-GA) has offered an amendment to eliminate all LWCF funding from the Interior Appropriations bill and puts the proceeds into the general deficit reduction account. This is very similar to the Lummis amendment from HR 1 and must be vigorously opposed. Though the timetable is uncertain on a vote/debate of this amendment, the Interior bill will be back on the floor for consideration this evening and we need to be prepared." Broun is a member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. The LWCF Coalition asks supporters to defend funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the FY12 Interior Appropriations bill. The bill reduces LWCF to only $61.8 million from the authorized level of $900 million per year and is an 80% cut below the $301 million appropriated last year.
July 19, 2011: Senate releases outline of Transportation funding bill: MAP-21 - The outline provides only a broad philosophy, which emphasizes consolidation and allows States to set their own performance targets. According to the outline, "MAP-21 consolidates 87 programs under SAFETEA-LU to less than 30 programs. The activities for which dedicated funding has been removed have been consolidated into the very broad core programs, leaving States with the flexibility to fund these activities as they see fit." Once we have access to the bill, it will be added to the American Trails website...
July 11, 2011: The No Child Left Inside Act (H.R. 2053) will be reintroduced July 14. To learn about what you can do to support their efforts, please join a "No Child Left Inside" Conference Call with Mr. Reed and Mr. Sarbanes on Tuesday July 19 at 3:00pm EST. Sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) is designed to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) to include environmental.
June 28, 2011: Land and Water Conservation Fund bill (S. 1265) has been reintroduced: "A bill to amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 to provide consistent and reliable authority for, and for the funding of, the land and water conservation fund to maximize the effectiveness of the fund for future generations, and for other purposes."
June 21, 2011: Supporters of the Land and Water Conservation Fund are asking for groups and individuals to sign on to a support letter by June 27. The letter is designed to begin a conversation with Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Boehner that hopefully leads to his support of conservation funding in upcoming budget negotiations.
June 2, 2011: Making Public Lands Public Access Act was introduced May 5 by Senator JonTester (MT). Amends the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure, from amounts requested for the Land and Water Conservation Fund per fiscal year, that not less than the greater of 1.5% of the requested amounts or $10 million be made available for certain projects identified on an annual priority list to be developed pursuant to this Act. Requires projects identified on such a list to secure, through rights-of-way or the acquisition of lands or interests from willing sellers, recreational public access to existing federal public lands that have significantly restricted access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
June 1, 2011: Californians: ACT NOW to save trails and bike/ped facilities in the next Transportation Bill
May 25, 2011: A total of 150 members of Congress, including 15 Republicans, signed onto the Dear Colleague Letter! in support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This is a historic high for LWCF Dear Colleague letters, and sends a truly strong message to the appropriations committee that the program needs consistent and robust funding in 2012 and beyond. (from Lindsey Levick, LWCF Coalition)
May 6, 2011: Seventy-four Members of Congress from both parties agreed to support the Recreational Trails Program in a lettert to the leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bi-partisan "Dear Colleague" letter asking Members of the House of Representatives to include funding for the Recreational Trails Program is being circulated by Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) in the Transportation Reauthorization Bill. Legislation expected to be produced by both House and Senate in May.
April 29, 2011: Support the Land and Water Conservation Fund! Please reach out to your members of Congress and urge them to sign onto our the Dear Colleague Sign on Letter! It is absolutely essential to get more Representatives signed on than we've ever had before. We have a highly motivated group of Champions working this from the Hill. The spreadsheet has all our most important targets highlighted in yellow! There are check boxes to identify whether they've signed on to past LWCF letters, voted no on the Lummis amendment, or both. (from Lindsey Levick, LWCF Coalition)
April 21, 2011: The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is urging support for continued funding for two key programs at the CDC that support the built environment that are proposed for elimination in the FY12 budget The two programs are: $22.7 million for the Healthy Communities Program - this program has provided funding to more than 300 communities to support policy change efforts to reduce chronic disease and obesity-including through physical activity and healthy eating work; and $2.7 million for built environment activities within the National Center for Environmental Health which provides essential national leadership on the impact of the built environment on health. The sign-on deadline is Tuesday, May 3, 2011
April 15, 2011: Congress passes Continuing Appropriations Act with two major recissions of funding for transportation-funded projects (H.R. 1473)
April 12, 2011: Land and Water Conservation Fund: The negotiated FY 11 budget bill for the last 5 months of this fiscal year is expected on the House floor for a vote on April 14. LWCF is funded at $301 million -- a 33% cut from the FY10 enacted. With FY 11 funding levels now set, we will now turn our full attention to the FY 12 budget process and work with Congress to reverse these cuts and support robust and consistent funding that will lead to the fully authorized level of $900 Million.
April 8, 2011: A bi-partisan "Dear Colleague" letter asking Members of the House of Representatives to include funding for the Recreational Trails Program is being circulated by Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) in the Transportation Reauthorization Bill now being written by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Action is needed by April 14, 2011: ask your Member of the House of Representatives to sign on to Rep. Petri’s and Michaud’s letter supporting continuation of RTP. And, please join 499 groups and agencies who are supporting RTP at this crucial time.
March 29, 2011: The Land and Water Conservation Fund urgently needs your support to ensure strong and consistent funding for the next Continuing Resolution (CR’s)- being negotiated this week and up until April 8th.
March 7, 2011: The House version of the Continuing Resolution cuts LWCF by 90% from the proposed FY 11 levels and by 87% from FY 10 enacted levels. The Senate version of the bill reduces LWCF overall by 27 % from the FY 11 budget proposal and by 17% from FY 10 enacted levels. While the Senate version sets us back from our push towards full funding, it is clearly better than the provisions of HR 1. Neither HR 1 nor the Senate substitute are expected to be the final bill approved, but on Tuesday those are the two choices available.See more news and details on LWCF...
February 28, 2011: National field hearings and listening sessions on future surface transportation needs were held in February by the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The CRT letters had almost 500 signatories and documented the results of the program nationally and in each Member’s state.
February 19, 2011: House lawmakers voted to cut more than $60 billion, from 2010 levels, in spending for federal programs and agencies for the rest of FY2011. The House vote was 235-189 to send the so-called continuing resolution to the Senate. However, with government funding set to expire March 4, 2011, the Senate will only have five days to work on the funding bill after returning from the Presidents Day recess on Feb. 28. As a result, both Democrats and Republicans are working on short-term extensions to avoid a government shutdown.
February 16, 2011: President Obama announced his plan for next year's budget (FY2012): As part of the America's Great Outdoors initiative, the Administration's Budget request for both Interior and the U.S. Forest Service totals $900 million for LWCF, the full amount of revenue generated each year from oil and gas development that is dedicated for land acquisition and conservation. Interior's 2012 Budget includes $375.0 million for Federal land acquisition and $200 million for an expanded LWCF State grants program.
February 16, 2011 - By a vote of 216 to 213, Rep. Lummis (R-WY) amendment to zero out LWCF in H.R. 1 was DEFEATED on the House floor this evening. 33 Republicans joined Democrats in defeating the amendment. H.R. 1 still makes drastic cuts to LWCF, but at least the Program has not been totally defunded. For additional information, visit the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition.
February 10, 2011: The new continuing resolution will contain $100 billion in cuts from Obama’s budget. The measure, which funds government operations including transportation, is essential to keeping federal programs running temporarily, will be released on Friday, and is still set to hit the House floor next week. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised that the cuts put forth by the GOP will be the largest in congressional history.
February 3, 2011: With the current federal budget debate, the mounting deficit, and proposed cuts to spending on every aspect of national programs, every program we rely on could be cut or eliminated. This means Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails Program, and Safe Routes to School could all disappear.
January 28, 2011: According to a Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation article, "The idea that bicycle and pedestrian funding-- rather than general overall cuts to federal transportation spending-- might be specifically targeted is realistic given that a few members of the House, like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, have repeatedly called for bicycle & pedestrian funding to be cut or eliminated." Read about past history of bicycle and pedestrian cuts proposed in federal budget.
January 18, 2011: "There are no Republican or Democratic roads. There are no Republican or Democratic bridges," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Speaking at a transportation technology conference, LaHood expressed confidence that Congress would pass a multiyear bill to reauthorize the federal surface transportation programs.
December 28, 2010: Proposed House rules could reduce funds available through SAFETEA-LU, including trails and bike/ped programs. "This proposal simply ensures we won’t be required to spend more on transportation projects than we take in. At the same time, it protects the Highway Trust Fund by ensuring every penny of the gas tax is spent on highway and transit projects, rather than diverted to pay for other items that we simply cannot afford," said Brendan Buck, spokesman for the Republican transition team. Current rules require annual spending increases as set in SAFETEA-LU, regardless of how much revenue was collected from fuel tax. Congress has had to appropriate a total of $35 billion to cover the shortfall. See "House Republicans Release Proposed 112th Congress Rules Package"...
December 22, 2010: A day after introducing the America’s Great Outdoors Act, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cancelled his effort to pass the 110-bill Omnibus legislation this year. The Senator's spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said that "Sen. Reid is working with the chairmen of the relevant committees to see if smaller sections of the bill might be able to pass on their own." Senate Republicans had asked for more time for review the many unrelated program authorizations.
December 21, 2010: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced S. 303, "America's Great Outdoors Act of 2010," a package of 110 individual bills that authorizes $18 billion over 10 years for federal lands, agencies, and programs. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition believes the Act "guarantees that LWCF will be available in the future while leaving specific decisions regarding funding levels and project needs to future Congresses." Habitat conservation, new national monuments, and Wilderness area designation are just a few of the many authorizations.
Dec. 16: H.R. 6426, the Moving Outdoors in Nature Act (MONA) was introduced by Rep. Ronald Kind (D-WI). It would fund $165 million over three years to “authorize the Secretary of the Interior to carry out programs and activities for connecting children and families with the outdoors.” Trails, hunting, conservation education, and outdoor recreation are mentioned as being eligible for competitive grants or cooperative agreements. The bill has been referred to two House committees: Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce.
Dec. 1: "The future of trails in federal transportation funding" was the topic of a kenote address at the American Trails National Symposium by Eric B. Beightel, U. S. Department of Transportation Office of Transportation Policy. He stated that "Active transportation projects could be in a position to increase their funding levels under a new bill if they are able to effectively make their case as cost-effective transportation investments. The new performance-based, outcome-driven authorization will give preference to those projects that are able to prove their value to the taxpayer. This is good news for trails."
October 14: Trail advocates urged to sign petition to support trails as part of federal transportation funding. Rails to Trails Conservancy supports flexibility to use the Highway Trust Fund to develop a healthy mix of transportation choices including trails.
September 1: The US Senate still needs to approve LWCF funding for parks, open space, and trails. On July 30, 2010 full and dedicated funding at $900 million for the Land & Water Conservation Fund passed in the US House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the Senate will consider similar legislation in September when it returns from the August district work period.
August 3: Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs reported favorably S.1619, The Livable Communities Act. It would create a new HUD office and authorizes two competitive grant programs which would be contingent on future appropriations. The Challenge Grant Program authorizes $2.2 billion over three years for projects such as public transportation improvements, support for transit-oriented development, pedestrian and bicycle enhancements, the preservation and creation of affordable housing, and to promote economic development. Eligible projects include transit facilities, structured parking, environmental remediation activities, sidewalks and bikeways.
July 29: The House passed its fiscal 2011 Transportation appropriations bill. In March 2010, $20 billion was transferred from the general fund to cover the Highway Trust Fund shortfall. That funding is projected to support the current funding levels through August 2011. According to "Roads & Bridges," the appropriations bill does not solve the underlying problem of the revenue shortage in the Highway Trust Fund. The highway and transit programs are currently operating under a short-term authorization that expires on Dec. 30. If a long-term reauthorization measure is not enacted by that date, Congress must again approve a short-term extension to avoid a shutdown in highway and transit funding.
July 19: The National Recreation & Parks Association asks for your support for Land and Water Conservation Fund State Assistance funding. In the House, the Consolidated Land Energy and Aquatic Resources Act (HR 3534) was passed out of committee earlier this week with a provision specifying full and dedicated funding ($900 million annually) for the LWCF.
July 14: A letter from the Coalition for Recreation Trails includes support from 348 trail and recreation organizations and asks Secretary LaHood to "join Americans across the country in supporting the Recreational Trails Program as part of the new federal transportation bill." The letter emphasizes that "trails are an investment in the future of our communities and our public lands, while connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to the environment." (Download letter in pdf format, 168 kb).
June 28: Every trail organization can help expand support for continued funding for trails, greenways, and recreation routes through the federal Recreational Trails Program. Just think, what would happen in your state if RTP disappeared? So we are asking the Council of Advisors to recruit additional RTP supporters. Read how you can join us in support of RTP...
May 2: The National Recreation and Park Association reports that the President’s budget calls for $50 million in funding for Land & Water Conservation Fund State Assistance Program in FY 11, which is a $10 million increase over the amount appropriated in FY 10. Read more background on the need for LWCF Stateside funding...
May 1: National Recreation and Park Association highlights "Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program." This new grant program is expected to offer opportunities and funding for parks and recreation. It will span urban to rural boundaries where parks, trails, and public open space are expected to be key components in plans developed by the regional partnerships that will be formed to apply for the grants.
April 16: President Obama's remarks at America's Great Outdoors Conference. "First, we’re going to build on successful conservation efforts being spearheaded outside of Washington-- by local and state governments, by tribes, and by private groups," Obama said. "Secondly, we’re going to help farmers, ranchers, property owners who want to protect their lands... Third, we’ll help families spend more time outdoors, building on what the First Lady has done through the “Let’s Move” initiative... And fourth, we want to foster a new generation of community and urban parks." Read the full text of the President's speech...
April 16: White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors held to discuss working together to conserve America's precious land resources and to encourage people to get outdoors and reconnect to the land.
March 22: The Highway Trust Fund was extended through the end of 2010 as part of the new jobs bill. US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stated that "we need lawmakers and experts to think creatively about how we're going to fund our transportation infrastructure in the 21st century."
March 22: When President Obama signed the jobs bill into law, he also extended the Highway Trust Fund through the end of 2010. US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stated that "we need lawmakers and experts to think creatively about how we're going to fund our transportation infrastructure in the 21st century."
March 15: "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized," said US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to a League of American Bicyclists conference. "We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects." Sec. LaHood also announced key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:
March 13, 2010: The web team at our Federal Highway Administration has created an interactive map of the U.S. that shows every single one of the 12,000+ Recovery Act road projects.
March 8: National Recreation & Park Association provides analysis of proposed 2011 federal budget which would increase funding for key programs and a number of new initiatives that positively impact parks and recreation. This means that the advocacy efforts of NRPA are working and the Obama Administration is realizing the need to invest in c1ose-to-home access to outdoor recreation, public lands, and programs promoting livable communities and youth development. While the President's budget numbers signal a renewed interest in parks and recreation, funding for park and recreation programs has steadily declined over the past decade, and as a result, the National Park Service reports more than $12 billion in unmet needs relative to outdoor recreation resources. Now more than ever, advocates must convince Congress that an even greater investment in parks and recreation is needed in order to build healthy, sustainable communities.
March 5: US Department of Health and Human Services announces the availability of new $10 million Recovery Act Funds for Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative. National public or private non-profit organizations can compete for up to $1.5 million in cooperative agreement support to: * Share expertise with select CPPW communities across the nation; * Foster a national prevention movement by spearheading new changes through their affiliate networks; and * Enhance consumer education and awareness prevention by expanding the CPPW media campaign.
March 3: SAFETEA-LU expired on September 30, 2009. Extension #4 is extended through March 28, 2010. Surface Transportation Authorization discussions continue.
SEC. 4. EXTENSION OF SURFACE TRANSPORTATION PROGRAMS.
(a) In General- Except as provided in subsection (b), for purposes of the continued extension of surface transportation programs and related authority to make expenditures from the Highway Trust Fund and other trust funds under sections 157 through 162 of the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2010 (Public Law 111-68; 123 Stat. 2050), the date specified in section 106(3) of that resolution (Public Law 111-68; 123 Stat. 2045) shall be deemed to be March 28, 2010.
(b) Exception- Subsection (a) shall not apply if an extension of the programs and authorities described in that subsection for a longer term than the extension contained in the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2010 (Public Law 111-68; 123 Stat. 2050), is enacted before the date of enactment of this Act.
March 3: U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) introduced H.R. 4722, the Active Community Transportation Act of 2010 in the House. The bill calls for the creation of an active transportation fund, authorized at $2 billion over five years, to fund community investment in walking and bicycling networks to shift short driving trips to active transportation.The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy wants you to encourage your U.S. representative to co-sponsor the legislation now! March 11 is Virtual Lobby Day for the Act
February 26: The Coalition for Recreational Trails, a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations, is pleased to announce its 2010 achievement awards to recognize outstanding trail projects funded by the national Recreational Trails Program
Feb. 20: Senate Jobs Bill includes 3% set-aside for Transportation Enhancements, and 100% federal match for funding, according to smartgrowthamerica.org. In December, the House approved a $154 billion jobs package, which included tax breaks, infrastructure spending and unemployment benefits. The Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 was approved in the House by a close vote of 217-212, but the White House has not given its support and the Senate has chosen not to take up that bill. The House bill would provide $37.3 billion for transportation programs, including $27.5 billion for highways.
February 17: US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced awards to states, tribal governments, cities, counties and transit agencies for 51 transportation projects through the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants. Projects funded with the $1.5 billion allocated in the Recovery Act include improvements to freight rail, bus and rail transit, passenger facilities, freeways and parkways, and piers and unloading facilities. Along with some intermodal facilities and bridges accomodating bikes and pedestrians, two non-motorized transportation projects were funded. The Indianapolis Bicycle & Pedestrian Network (IN) received $20,500,000 to "complete the eight-mile urban bicycle and pedestrian network in the heart of downtown Indianapolis," and the Philadelphia Area Pedestrian & Bicycle Network (PA, NJ) received $23,000,000 to "repair, reconstruct and improve 16.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle facilities."
Feb. 10: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that the proposed $79 billion fiscal year 2011 budget for the Department of Transportation includes continued investments in transportation infrastructure and livable communities, among other agency priorities.
January 13, 2010: Secretary of Transportation: "people want the opportunity to leave their cars behind". In a dramatic change from existing policy, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood proposed that new funding guidelines for major transit projects be based on livability issues such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits
Dec. 19, 2009: The House and Senate have both passed extensions of SAFETEA-LU transportation funding. The Senate gave existing highway funding programs a two-month reprieve today when it approved a Defense Department appropriations bill 88-12. Included in the defense bill is a continuing resolution that allows the government to disburse money under the terms of the 2005 surface transportation act known as SAFETEA-LU. The Senate extended the law until Feb. 28, 2010. The extension gives the Senate time to consider a jobs bill that also cleared the House on December 16. The bill directs $75 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), with two-thirds of the total going to the Department of Transportation for infrastructure programs.
December 17, 2009: The House jobs bill (H.R. 2847) includes $27.5 billion going to highways proposes a 3 percent set-aside for transportation enhancements (TE), totaling $800 million.
November 24: A bill introduced (S. 2747) would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million a year.
Nov. 7: 2010 Interior Environment and related agencies appropriations bill (HR 2996) provides increased funding for conservation programs, from Trust for Public Land
Nov. 6: Funding increase for Federal recreation programs including trails passed by Congress. For the Forest Service, trail maintenance is up by $14,746,000 over the 2009 budget. Trail construction, however, is down $10,380,000 due to the large increase in 2009 for Forest Service ARRA economic stimulus projects. BLM recreation and construction budgets are up significatly.
Oct.12: CDC releases application for $ millions in prevention funding federal health grants can fund bike/ped programs; ARRA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grants total $500 million
The "committee print" of the new Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 is available in pdf format (1.3 mb)
What's next for transportation and parks funding? Will Congress see trails as investments in health and transportation? Pam Gluck, Executive Director of American Trails, notes that "These are exciting times— but they are full of challenge for trails."
Federal Highway Administration links to economic stimulus issues:
Forest Service Economic Recovery pages:
Supporters of trails and bike/ped facilities are watching the new Administration roll out programs and promises. At the same time we see new lows in the stock market, fuel tax receipts, employment figures, and state income. How will funding for trails fare in this challenging environment? People are talking about possibilities:
Recovery.gov is being updated regularly:
USDA Forest Service
Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/recovery/
Access Board - http://www.access-board.gov/recovery/
America Bikes Coalition - http://www.americabikes.org/
American Horse Council - http://www.horsecouncil.org/
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals - http://www.apbp.org/
Coalition for Recreational Trails - http://www.funoutdoors.com/coalitions/crt
National and Community Service / Americorps Funding
National Center for Bicycling & Walking - http://www.bikewalk.org/
National Parks Conservation Association: take action - http://act.npca.org/npca/home.html
National Recreation and Park Association - http://www.nrpa.org/
League of American Bicyclists - http://www.bikeleague.org/
National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse
Rails to Trails Conservancy - http://www.railstotrails.org/index.html
Safe Routes to School