Support the Federal Recreational Trails Program

U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.) released a "Dear Colleague" letter asking members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter to the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in support of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) that provides funding for trails, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The RTP is a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)-administered program. It was first created in the 1991 transportation bill (ISTEA) and operates through state trail programs, with the active involvement of diverse trail interests represented on mandated state trail advisory councils. Funding is provided by taxes generated from fuel used in off-highway recreational vehicles.

Michaud and Petri have placed a July 17 deadline for collecting signatures. Therefore, time is of the essence, and the AMA and its sister organization, the All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA), are encouraging all members, motorized recreation enthusiasts and rights activists to contact their U.S. representatives and ask them to sign the letter.

Because the deadline is this Friday, July 17, the fastest way to reach your members of Congress is to call them. You can find contact information for your representatives in the Rapid Response Center at AmericanMotorcyclist.com. Click on "Rights," then "Issues & Legislation," and enter your zip code in the "Find your Officials" box. Additionally, a prewritten e-mail is available for you to send to your U.S. representatives by clicking on the "Take Action" link and entering your information.

The bipartisan letter thanks the leadership for including the RTP in the Surface Transportation Authorization Act. The letter also makes three specific requests:

1. That RTP funding levels in the legislation to be set at $690 million over six years — $90 million in 2010, $100 million in 2011, $110 million in 2012, $120 million in 2013, $130 million in 2014, and $140 million in 2015.

2. That $2.5 million be allocated to a federal Transportation Department study of off-highway recreational fuel use to ensure that the level of RTP funding reflects the amount of federal fuel taxes paid for off-highway fuel usage.

3. That the funds allocated to the FHWA for administering the RTP each year be adjusted from a set amount to 1 percent of the actual available annual funding to ensure that sufficient administrative resources are available for the program.

All AMA and ATVA members, and anyone else who enjoys responsible recreation on trails, are urged to contact their representatives and ask them to sign on to the Michaud/Petri letter addressed to the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in support of the RTP.