Recreational Trails Program in jeoporady

Discussions about government and how it affects living and recreation in the Catskill Mountains. This includes DEC, DEP, and local governments. (NO Left or Right talking head political discussions)

Recreational Trails Program in jeoporady

New postby Jon » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:15 pm

Many people don't know but states aquire funding from federal legislature which is now being challenged. The senate has a bill which will eliminate funding for the Recreational Trails Program. This program takes taxes from off-road recreational gas sales, and uses it to fund departments and organizations that maintain the trial network that we all love. This includes NY state, and the Catskill Mountains.

Here is a link to the RTP website
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/

There is some "Moving ahead for progress" (whatever that is supposed to mean) bill in the Senate right now S.1813 , which will eliminate funding for the RTP program. Therefore millions of dollars of federal funding will be cut for NY state, which will drastically affect trail programs.

It's absurd since the RTP get's it's funding mainly from off-road vehicle use, and it is used to maintain off-road trails and foot hiking trails, therefore it essentially "pays for itself" and isn't using other federal tax money (such as building roads) but it's being cut in the name of progress. I am not a lawyer, I don't understand politics or how eliminating trail funding corresponds to "progress". I'm not a fan of these big package-deal type bills, where the name has nothing to do with the contents. It seems that this bill has turned into a political circus, and it could drastically affect trail conditions all over the country.
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Re: Recreational Trails Program in jeoporady

New postby mike » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:14 pm

The trails in the Catskills are maintained by the NYNJTC. The DEC doesn't maintain trails in the Catskills. Or, I should say almost never.

The DEC has also cut back on the number of Rangers also.

The RTP funds were used for trails that could be used by a variety of methods. Sometimes hikers, ATV, snowmobiles, etc use the same trail. I would suspect that the funds allocated for New York were never used for trails in NY. I guess I could be wrong. If they cut off the funds, the trails will not be affected.

They have been talking about recutting the snowmobile trail around Kaaterskill High Peak for quite a few years. The trail was ruined by a commercial ATV operation.
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Re: Recreational Trails Program in jeoporady

New postby Jon » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:39 pm

If you think that RTP money is not used in the Catskills, then what does new york do with the 2.4 million they got from the program in 2011? I'm pretty sure a majority of it was to pay for all the overhead functions required to have trails existing that are accessible to the general public.
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/funding/apportionments_obligations/recfunds_2011.cfm

I'm sure that if all that money was gone, trails in New York would still exist. Some of these trails have been around for hundreds of years, well before the RTP. I don't know that they would exist in the condition that they exist now is all. I think that trails in NY are a lot nicer than trails in New Jersey. I would assume this is because of more funding, and a larger volunteer effort. However if you reduce either of those things, you will see a negative impact on trails.

Despite the fact that the DEC or NY state doesn't hire people to actively go out and maintain the trails, doesn't mean that the funding doesn't go for maintenance. They do keep those logs of trail use. And do the trail maintenance teams build the bulletin boards and the parking lots at the trail heads? Who builds the Lean-to's, I thought they were "DEC maintained"?

When I said that it funds departments and organisations, I wasn't only talking about government organizations (like the DEC). The RTP funds a multitude of non-profit orgs that maintain trails all over the nation. The fact sheet says that 30% of the funding is for non-motor vehicle trails, and that 30% is for motorized vehicle trails. If you ask me I'd say setting aside funding for states to create dedicated ATV trails is the best way to keep them from trespassing on foot trails.

Do you know that the NYNJ Trail conference is funded by the RTP? They are just one of the orgs that has joined a coalition to fight this huge funding cut.

http://www.nynjtc.org/issue/recreational-trails-program

So without the RTP NYNJ trail conference might not be able to fund the programs like Trail U that people sign up for to learn maintenance. They might not be able to update maps, so despite trails being rerouted, you might have to work with 10 year old maps. The trail conference might not be able to rebuild bridges all over NY and NJ after floods wash them away. The list of places where federal funding is used is probably impossible to accumulate, since this funding is spread wide across the country, and states apply it to non-profit organisations.

I guess I should also add that I learned about this bill from the NY NJ trail conference email this morning. So obviously they care about the funding, or else they wouldn't have emailed all their members.
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