May 21, 2019

Van Hollen Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Transparency of Funding for the Recreational Trails Program

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) cosponsored the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Funding Transparency Act, bipartisan legislation to increase transparency of funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) by requiring the Secretary of Transportation to provide a report on the amount of non-highway recreational fuel taxes administered to the RTP to assist Congress in determining an appropriate funding level for the program. Since 1991, the RTP has provided funding to states to develop and maintain outdoor recreational trails, allowing millions of Americans and their families to enjoy activities such as hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and 4-wheel driving. The RTP Funding Transparency Act—which is supported by recreational groups from snowmobilers to cyclists and hikers to off-highway power sport vehicle groups—will ensure that federal funds collected for this program are maximized to support more trail projects in the future. The RTP Funding Transparency Act was reintroduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and James Risch (R-ID) and is  also cosponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Richard Burr (R-NC)

“From the Western corners of our state to the Eastern Shore, Maryland is fortunate to have hundreds of outdoor trails for residents and visitors alike to enjoy,” Van Hollen said. “The Recreational Trails Program provides crucial support that helps to keep them up and running, and this legislation will ensure those funds are being used efficiently and effectively,” Van Hollen said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan measure so that families can continue to enjoy Maryland’s outdoor treasures for years to come.”

“Environmental conservation is a fundamental part of Minnesota’s heritage, so we know how critical it is to protect our natural resources,” Klobuchar said. “Snowmobilers, hikers, ATV users, cyclists, and the countless others who enjoy the outdoors rely on the Recreational Trails Program to explore our state’s natural wonders and in turn support our local businesses. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that states receive the resources they need to protect and improve these trails for generations to come.”

“The Recreational Trails Program provides Idahoans with hundreds of ways to experience our state’s vast wilderness and incredible natural beauty,” Risch said. “The RTP Funding Transparency Act will improve accountability over how infrastructure dollars are spent on building and maintaining recreational trails. This legislation will help ensure future generations of outdoor enthusiasts may continue to enjoy Idaho’s great outdoors.”

“The Recreational Trails Program plays an important role in supporting New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation economy and tourism sector by investing in activities and trail projects across the state,” Shaheen said. “Given its success, it’s critical that there be sufficient funding to sustain the program’s efforts, which help to ensure our environment and wildlife can be explored and appreciated by Granite Staters and visitors for years to come. I’m glad to support legislation that prioritizes funding for the Recreational Trails Program and I’ll keep working across the aisle on behalf of this important issue.”

“From the mountains to the coast, North Carolina’s stunning natural landscapes can be enjoyed today in large part thanks to smart conservation programs like the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The RTP helps preserve and maintain North Carolina’s expansive network of hiking and nature trails, and it works with local communities to plan future routes. I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation to ensure this vital program has the resources it needs to carry out its important work,” Burr said.

The RTP Funding Transparency Act will increase the accuracy and transparency of funding for the Recreational Trails Program as well as maintaining its current level of funding and status as a distinct program.

The bill is supported by the American Council of Snowmobile Associations, American Hiking Society, American Horse Council, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, American Motorcyclist Association, International Mountain Bicycling Association, National Association of State Park Directors, National Association of State Trail Administrators, PeopleForBikes, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association and Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals.