Thank goodness for small mercies: a multi-year national highway bill known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (or the FAST Act), has been passed by Congress and signed by the President. It allows for $85 million annually for the next five years for the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Support from recreational trail users, including many equestrians, played an important role in making sure the RTP was included in the bill. Believe it or not, there is often an attempt to eliminate the program during debates!
Since its inception in the early nineties, RTP has provided funds for thousands of state and local trail projects across the country, including many that benefit equestrians. These funds develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses, to include but not limited to hiking, equestrian use, snowmobiling and off-road motorcycling. The American Horse Council (AHC) has advocated the program for a long time and is an active member in the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT).
The much appreciated funds allows states to maintain and restore existing trails, develop and rehabilitate trailside facilities, purchase and lease trail construction and maintenance equipment, construct new trails, assess trail conditions, develop and disseminate publications, and operate educational programs.
To learn more about the RTP and find information about contacting your state program administrator for guidance on State policies and project eligibility requirements, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/. You can also look up the projects funded in your state in the RTP project database. Happy trailing!