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Trails legislation in Congress

The States get '01 LWCF funds but CARA funding bill stalls

From National Recreation & Park Association

Supporters of capital investment funds for parks and recreation aggressively pursued increased FY 2001 Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars, urban park restoration, and related program in Congress last year. These efforts resulted in a big gain from $32 million in 2000 to $120 million. A major capital funding bill, Conservation and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 701 (CARA), was passed by the House of Representatives (315-102) and reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Senate and House conferees, in negotiations with the White House, adopted a "Land Conservation, Preservation and Infrastructure Improvement" title for fiscal years 2001 to 2006. Access to funds remains the annual prerogative of appropriators. While these 'mixed' results make it difficult to predict congressional actions, senior legislators have vowed to reintroduce a new version of H.R. 701.

For more information: National Recreation and Park Association (202) 887-0290.

Mineta sworn in as Transportation Secretary

Norman Y. Mineta was sworn in as the nation's 14th Transportation Secretary on 2/8. During his confirmation before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on 1/24, Mineta listed his top priorities for the transportation department as improving safety on highways and other parts of the transportation system, eliminating bottlenecks on highways, and reducing congestion at airports. On January 2, President-elect Bush named Norman Mineta his choice for Transportation Secretary. Mineta served in Congress from 1975-1995 where he chaired the House Public Works and Transportation (1993-95) and played a key role in writing ISTEA. Since this summer, he has also served as Clinton's commerce secretary.

Mineta's appointment was praised by diverse groups promoting highways and transit as well as livable cities. If confirmed, Mineta will play a key role in developing the next version of TEA-21 due in 2003.

According to Patrick J. McCormick of the League of American Bicyclists, "Mr. Mineta was a key player in the development and passage of ISTEA, which opened the door to many opportunities for cycling at the federal level. Mr. Mineta's strong relationship with cyclists' champion on Capitol Hill, Congressman Oberstar, will be very useful."

"Three decades ago I was Mayor of San Jose, California, and was focused on how I could improve the community where I had been born and raised. I had the usual range of policy tools that mayors use to try to improve their communities: city planning and zoning authorities, economic development programs, grants for housing, and so on. But what I found in practice was that the tool that made the most difference in my community was transportation. Nothing else had as great an impact on our economic development, on the pattern of growth, or on the quality of life."

--Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, speaking before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation at his confirmation hearing on 1/24/01.

TEA-21 funding up for reauthorization in 2003

From National Recreation & Park Association

The Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty-First Century (TEA-21) expires in 2003. A coalition has formed to discuss early consideration of amendments and improvements to the Act. TEA-21 requires that states set aside at least ten percent of funds for transportation enhancements (TE) projects, such as bicycle/pedestrian facilities. From 1998-2003, the federal government will provide at least $620 million in TE funds to state transportation agencies each year.

TEA-21 continues the ISTEA objectives to foster transportation planning that has increased transportation choices, expand recreation opportunities, protect the environment, and foster local economic benefits with fewer of the road projects that fracture communities and interfere with local quality of life. Parks, recreation, and conservation interests have benefitted from the enhancement funds as well as the Recreational Trails Program, which also provides funds to states for trail projects.

Federal budget highlights

From the American Hiking Society

Trails and recreation received some notable increases in the Fiscal Year 2001 Interior spending bill. Highlights:

Discovery Trails Act up again

Congressman Doug Bereuter has reintroduced National Discovery Trails Act legislation as H.R. 36. He will send out a "dear colleague" letter February 7 requesting House Members to become cosponsors of the bill. Congressman Joel Hefley will be the chair of the House subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands. He has been supportive of previous bills for the American Discovery Trail.

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