PICKERINGTON, Ohio — In great news for motorcyclists, the embattled federal Recreational Trails Program that faced possible extinction exists in a massive transportation bill approved by Congress on June 29, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
The spending authorization bill, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” known as Map-21, includes $85 million a year through fiscal 2014 for the trails program, which provides funds to the states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses.
The measure now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.
The original Senate-backed transportation proposal, S. 1813, would have effectively ended the RTP by severing the program from its dedicated funding. But Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and several bipartisan cosponsors offered an amendment in March to S. 1813, which was approved by the full Senate, to continue the RTP.
The House version of the transportation bill included the $85 million a year in RTP funding, and the House-Senate compromise bill approved by both chambers and sent to the president on June 29 includes that amount.
“Motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders by the thousands spoke about the benefits of the Recreational Trails Program and the fact that it’s funded by off-highway vehicle users,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “Federal lawmakers listened and continued this vital program.”
Funds for the RTP come from the federal Highway Trust Fund and represent a portion of the federal motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use. In other words, taxes generated by fuel used for off-highway vehicle recreation — by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles and off-highway light trucks — fund the RTP.
The RTP is an assistance program of the U.S. Transportation Department’s Federal Highway Administration. The RTP program benefits hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, ATV riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles.