Senate Protects Recreational Trails Program

AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL — MARCH 14, 2012 — On March 14, 2012, the Senate passed MAP-21 (S. 1813) its version of a national highway bill. MAP-21, as amended, would reauthorize the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP) for 2 years and allocate $85 million in annual funding for the program. The AHC is pleased the Senate recognized the importance of RTP and included it in their bill.

Since its inception RTP has provided money for thousands of state and local trail projects across the country, including many that benefit equestrians. RTP provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for all recreational trail users. It is funded with a portion of the gas taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund by recreational off-highway vehicle users.

The current national highway bill SAFETEA-LU that authorizes RTP was set to expire in September of 2009. However, because Congress has yet to pass a new highway bill it has been forced to extend the current law several times, most recently until March 31, 2012.

MAP-21 as it was originally written would have made major changes to RTP by removing dedicated funding for the program and consolidating it with several others. Such changes would have effectively ended RTP as it currently exists. The AHC opposed those changes to RTP and in conjunction with a broad coalition of recreational trail users has been requesting Congress re-authorize RTP in its current form.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and eight other Senators, including Michael Bennet (D-CO), Scott Brown (R -MA), 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) responded to the requests of the recreational community to save RTP and successfully amended MAP-21 to preserve RTP as a distinct program with annual funding of $85 million. The AHC appreciates the work of these Senators as well as the efforts of equestrians around the country including members of the AHC Congressional Cavalry who contacted the Senate to voice their support for RTP.

The House must now either approve MAP-21 or its version of the highway bill (H.R.7). H.R. 7 would also reauthorize RTP in its current form with annual funding of $85 million.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

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