Dear Governor Tomblin,
Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the surface transportation legislation signed into law on July 6, included language passed by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate that continued dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program. This program distributes $85 million in federal funding to states to support the construction, maintenance and development of trails for all types of recreation, trails that are catalysts for tourism and economic development,
while providing valuable access to public lands.
The Recreational Trails Program plays an essential role in funding trail programs and projects in West Virginia. The RTP funding-distribution process is proven, having successfully funded more than 13,000 projects across the nation over the past 19 years. During the life of the program our state has received money to fund such projects as
maintenance to trails in the Dolly Sods area of the Monongahela National Forest, work on the trailhead of the West Fork Trail in Glady, WV and development of the Greenbrier River Rail Trail and the Heart of the Highlands Trail System.
Additionally this funding helped create the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System in Southern West Virginia.
The RTP has a dedicated funding source in a portion of the federal fuel taxes collected for non-highway, recreational use. This return of gas taxes to trail users is in keeping with the user-pay, user-benefit philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund. Opting out of funding for RTP would deny the benefit of these gas taxes to the people who pay them.
RTP funds are utilized by state transportation departments and natural resource agencies in cooperation with citizen advisory committees and a network of organizations and communities. These partners leverage available funding with cash and in-kind support – often doubling available federal funds.
Trails are an investment in the economic future of our communities and our public lands, while encouraging healthy outdoor activity that connects people of all ages and backgrounds to the environment – which is good for them and good for the world that surrounds them. The RTP is the foundation for that investment. We strongly urge you to continue this vital funding and oppose any efforts to opt out of this important program. If RTP were to lose its funding, organized trail planning and development
would largely vanish in our state.