The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) alerted members and supporters to threats to cut an important federal program that funds the development of singletrack. The endangered Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is the only US federal funding source for multi-use singletrack trails.
"RTP is in grave danger in both chambers of the US Congress. This week, both the House and Senate are expected to vote on their respective transportation bills," read a statement from IMBA.
"In the Senate, RTP is eliminated, but U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is offering an amendment to restore dedicated funding.
"In the House, RTP was included in legislation forwarded by the committee, but Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has an amendment to eliminate the program. The entire House of Representatives hears the bill later this week."
RTP funding provides US$85 million annually for trail construction and maintenance. Since 1993, RTP has funded more than 15,000 projects nationwide and leverages local and state funding. Only a small portion of federal funds collected are returned to the program for motorized and non-motorized trail projects.
IMBA noted that eliminating dedicated funding for the RTP violates the "user-pay and user-benefit" philosophy undergirding the nation's surface transportation program. Eliminating funding converts a legitimate user fee into an unfair tax.
"Organized trail planning and development will simply vanish in many areas of the country. The elimination of the RTP represents a substantial new tax on motorized recreation enthusiasts. Ending dedicated funding for RTP takes these gas taxes away from the people who pay them," said the IMBA statement.
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