RTP - ACTION ALERT

Dear Friend of Trails,

WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW MORE THAN EVER! The future of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funding depends on quick and widespread trails community action. Our window of opportunity for action is short. We think this funding issue for RTP may be resolved by June 15. We are at THE MOST CRITICAL POINT in the legislative process - the point that will determine the future of the Recreational Trails Program. The Senate and the House have both passed their versions of HR 3 and have gone into conference to "duke out" the differences. We need to keep the Recreational Trails Program foremost in their minds. Please alert members of your network about the opportunity to boost funding by nearly $200 million by acting to make sure that the House position is adopted in conference.

Derrick Crandall, CRT Co-Chair, sums it up beautifully: "The difference between $110 million/year and $56 million is a whole bunch of happy memories." And, a whole bunch of healthier people.

*** ACTION ALERT - URGENT ***

ISSUE: Funding for the Recreational Trails Program
through Fiscal Year 2009

Background: The House and Senate have passed alternative versions of HR 3, the reauthorization of the nation's surface transportation programs - including the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). RTP uses a portion of the federal motor fuel taxes collected on non-highway recreational use (in snowmobiles, OHVs, etc.) to provide funding to state recreational trail programs serving ALL trail interests. Since establishment of the program under ISTEA in 1991, in excess of 7,600 trail projects have been funded and are documented in a database created by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), comprised of all major national trail interests.

CRT has explained to the Congress that the taxes paid on fuel used for non-highway recreational purposes is estimated at $286 million annually, and that the "user-pay" philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund means that most of this money should be returned to benefit the nation's trail community - rather than paying for roads on which the recreation activities generating the taxes are barred. CRT recommended that 50% of these taxes be allotted to the RTP program: $143 million annually.

The House provisions for the RTP are a good faith effort to meet the CRT request. The House-passed legislation would provide $503 million for RTP over six years B increasing funding to reach $110 million for Fiscal Year 2009. In contrast, the Senate-passed RTP provision would provide flat funding of $56 million annually, or about $170 million less that the House bill and even $20 million less than the Administration requested for RTP!

The House and Senate have now appointed conferees to address the differences in the two versions of HR 3. We expect serious work to begin on June 6 and believe a decision on RTP funding may be finalized by June 15. The recreational trails community needs to make clear that the final version of HR 3 needs to include the House-passed funding for the RTP program through immediate emails, faxes and calls to Members of Congress.

Messages: 1) The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) relies on user
fees paid by recreationists.

2) RTP is a proven success, leveraging federal funds
with volunteer labor, state trails funding generated
through registration fees and gas taxes and private
funds.

3) Recreational trail users are now unfair donors to
other transportation programs,receiving just 18% of
the taxes paid.

4) Trails funded in part through RTP are a vital part
of fighting the obesity epidemic plaguing our nation.

5) The House-passed funding level for the RTP
program should be included in the HR 3 conference
report.

6) Thank them for their consideration and support.


Targets: Your Members of Congress - both U.S. Senators and your House
of Representatives member.

To write them easily via email, go to:

U.S. House of Representatives:
www.house.gov/writerep (http://www.house.gov/writerep)

U.S. Senate:
www.senate.gov (http://www.senate.gov/)

To fax them: Call the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121), ask to be transferred to their office, and ask for their fax number.

To call them: You can call them, if you don't have time to write, but written messages are preferred.

DO NOT mail them, as it will take weeks for them to get through the screening process.