Recreational Trails Program, 2012

The Recreational Trails Program is a very effective, user-pay/user-benefit program and a proven success story. It serves as the foundation for state trail programs across the country, leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support for trails, encourages productive cooperation among trail users, and facilitates healthy outdoor recreation and associated, badly needed economic activity in countless communities. Funding for it should be continued in the federal Transportation Reauthorization Bill.

Recreation Trails Program grants have funded a broad range of important Trail Conference projects in both New York and New Jersey, including:

  • Bear Mountain Trails Project
  • Pochuck AT Boardwalk
  • Popolopen Creek Bridge and 1777/79 trail historic interpretation
  • Invasive monitoring and management
  • Inventory of trail conditions and structures
  • Broad range of trail-skills workshops
  • Accessible trails
  • Bridge and puncheon repair and replacement

Learn more about the Recreational Trails Program in this fact sheet (pdf format).

Issue Updates : 

August 15, 2012: Though the Recreational Trails Program was reauthorized by the US Congress in July, it includes an option that allows Governors to opt out of the program for their state by September 1st. We urge trail supporters to contact their state's Governor and urge him to fully fund the Recreational Trails Program. Click here for a suggested letter prepared by Americans for Responsible Recreational Access.

July 9, 2012: Recreational Trails Program reauthorized through 2014. We are thrilled that the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), the funding program that has sustained state trail programs for two decades, has been reauthorized as part of the transportation bill approved by the U.S. Congress on June 29, 2012 and signed by President Barack Obama on July 6, 2012. Under the new legislation, which will fund transportation programs through September 30, 2014, the RTP will receive $85 million in annual funding for the next two fiscal years. The Coalition for Recreational Trails, of which the Trail Conference is a member, worked to ensure continued funding of this user-pay/user-benefit program.


June 21, 2012: Compromises are being made in conference and may be devastating for trails! The trails community has worked tirelessly to secure dedicated funding for Recreational Trails, Transportation Enhancements, and Safe Routes to School. Under new discussions, these programs are at great risk, as one proposal gives Governors opportunity to opt out of these programs.

As the debate in Congress continues, NOW is a crucial time to let your Senators and Representative know that you support funding for trails and bike/pedestrian facilities.

Here is the message: Please preserve dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program, Transportation Enhancements, and Safe Routes to School.    


February 15: A broad coalition of trails groups is defending trails funding in federal legislation now being considered in the House and Senate. The Coalition for Recreational Trails is opposing a Senate bill, which would eliminate trails funding altogether.  Click here for more info and quick response form to your Senators provided by Rails-to-Trails. . The coalition also opposes H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012. Click here for more info and quick response form to your Representative provided by Rails-to-Trails.

February 9: Both the House and Senate committees have passed bills that either eliminate or seriously decrease funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails. While the House bill funds RTP at $85, the Senate bill (MAP-21) cuts funding for all three programs dramatically. These bills may come to floor votes within the week. We urge trail supporters to restore dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails, Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails programs. Write your own letter or consider using these links:

Rails-to Trails letter campaign

American Trails RTP info page

February 2: By a vote of 27-29, the House Transportation & Infrastructure defeated an amendment to the transporation reauthorization bill that would have restored rail trails eligibility for funding.

February 1, 2012: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy reports that the bill being considered by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee would preserve funding for the RTP at $85 million for each of the next four years, but singles out for complete or severe cuts  programs that support rail trails and other initiatives.

The Safe Routes to School program would be eliminated along with dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements. Eligibility for preserving abandoned railway corridors, including trail conversion, is specifically eliminated.

The 2012 proposed bill:

  • Ends all dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements
  • Eliminates eligibility for rail trails and rail corridor preservation
  • Eliminates eligibility for historic projects, including canal corridors and railroad facilities
  • Cuts out the Safe Routes to School programs and staff
  • Allows states to build bridges without accommodating pedestrians and bicycles
  • Stops funding for bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs 

See bill analysis by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.


January 30, 2012: TRAILS FUNDING AT RISK

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee's "Transportation Reauthorization Proposal," like the Senate bill announced in November, proposes to eliminate the requirement for federal set-aside for programs that have provided the majority of trail, walking, and bicycling funding in the United States.

When introduced, the House bill will be designated as, "The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act." This bill could be voted on by the Committee this week:

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Markup of "The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act"

Thursday, February 2, 2012; 9:00 a.m. EASTERN
2167 Rayburn House Office Building

Attend the live webcast of the markup at

Learn more at American Trails.