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DC Insider: Take the money and run! California to opt out of the Recreational Trails Program

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Recently, at a meeting with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff, the AMA learned that California intends to opt out of the federal Recreational Trails Program. This means California will spend approximately $5.7 million less on recreational trails in 2014.

The RTP functioned as a standalone program within the federal highway trust because it is based on a user-pay/user-benefit system. All of the funding for the program came from taxes paid on gasoline by OHV users (you and I) when we filled up our gas tanks. In essence, when groups applied for grants from the program they were simply applying for their money back.

This will no longer be the case.

According to the governor’s proposed budget, the funds that were congressionally authorized to fund trails will be diverted to fund active transportation projects. This will include only walking and bicycling projects that will reduce greenhouse emissions.  

Starting in 2014, Brown is asking OHV users to continue to pay the federal and state excise tax on gasoline and derive no benefit. In fact, he is telling the OHV community to fund other projects instead.

The RTP program in California is exceptionally popular and well run. Each year RTP administrators receive more applications for grants than they can fund. Additionally, in 2011 California was recognized by the Coalition for Recreational Trails for administering the program efficiently.

In proposing this state budget, Brown has shown how much he values the OHV community in California and surrounding states. The AMA does not plan to sit out this budget battle on the sidelines. In fact, we – along with other users of recreational trails – have begun a large grassroots campaign to get the governor to reconsider his decision to opt out of the RTP.  

We need your help! Please send the governor a letter – you can do so by going here and clicking the “Take Action” button. Additionally, share this link with all your friends and urge them to do the same.

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