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2002 State Trail Administrators Meeting

November 14-15, 2002
Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, Florida
Organized by the National Association of State Trail Administrators and the Federal Highway Administration

Introductions, Overview of Agenda and Meeting

Stuart Macdonald, National Association of State Trail Administrators (NASTA) and Christopher Douwes, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) opened the meeting. Attendees introduced themselves. Many States were not able to attend because out-of-State travel restrictions. There were many new Administrators; many others had retired or taken other jobs since the previous meeting in September 2001.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues relating to trails as they affect the States, including the Recreational Trails Program (RTP).


State Reports

Many State representatives said they also administer Land and Water Conservation Fund grants. Many were updating State Trail Plans, including Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.

Coalition for Recreational Trails-Presentation on RTP Reauthorization

Deborah Napier, Motorcycle Industry Council (dnapier@mic.org) and Marianne Fowler, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (rtcmarianne@transact.org) represented the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) to discuss RTP reauthorization. Deborah Napier gave some background about MIC (www.mic.org) and explained MIC represents the motorcycle industry, while the American Motorcyclist Association (www.amadirectlink.com/index.asp) represents individual enthusiasts.

The CRT is a group of national organizations who have come together to support the RTP funding program. These groups want to work with State Trail Administrators. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/resources/ for links to many of these organizations.

If the surface transportation program is not reauthorized, RTP funds will disappear. CRT wants to ensure success and is asking for an increase in funding over the next reauthorization cycle [expected to be six years] to $143 million annually. The funding for the RTP is from motorized recreational fuel use, and the figure is based on an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study of fuel use (www-cta.ornl.gov/publications/offroad.pdf). CRT is working on a database project with FHWA funding to help States and trail groups show where the funds are going nationally and the success of RTP-funded projects. Many highway advocates are arguing national security reasons to concentrate funding for highways. CRT wants to create a unified voice to support the RTP.

Some organizations have concerns about the 30-30-40 requirements; whether or not some trail enthusiasts are getting their "fair shake". CRT is encouraging the States to assure there is fair representation of all user groups on the State trail committees. The National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) has State representatives in most States (see www.nohvcc.org), and can help point States to possible OHV representatives. NOHVCC will have a conference in March 2003 in Charlotte NC. There will be a meeting of State and Federal OHV Program Managers in conjunction with the NOHVCC conference.

States should help applicants complete good trail projects. The Congress needs to hear good things about the results, not problems with a State's funding process. Funding projects to do mapping and education can help solve problems on the trails.

Encourage the various trail interests to work together for recreation. Trail enthusiasts need to have unified voice to support the RTP to be heard in Congress. Call any of the advocacy groups to get advice on bringing a positive message to Congress. The American Recreation Coalition's Great Outdoors Week in June in Washington will be a showcase for trail projects, including CRT awards on June 12, 2003 (see www.funoutdoors.com). CRT is encouraging award nominations: the deadline is March 14, 2003. [Email sent to all State Trail Administrators on 20 Dec 2002.]

Some motorized groups are unhappy with their share under the RTP, since they are paying for the program. Some groups don't want any motorized use anywhere. Trail groups need to work together to support the RTP.

The current Administration supports promoting public health through physical activity outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been very active promoting physical activity, and there is now a Federal Interagency group on Public Health and Recreation. See www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/index.htm and www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/trails.htm.

CRT members are open to work with States on issues. If groups are united, the RTP is more likely to succeed. Look for opportunities to work with large private landowners.

Darrell McBane (NC) asked: Are the 30-30-40 shares going to remain the same? Deborah Napier responded that the CRT position is yes, keep the 30-30-40 provision the same.

Dick Westfall (IL) pointed out that CRT's funding request would triple the RTP funding. The State demand for RTP projects is 3-4 times the current funding level. States need to make sure they can use all the RTP funds they receive.

Deborah Napier pointed out that RTP funds come from motorized use. There is concern about the inability of motorized groups to develop RTP applications. MIC supports having an RTP clearinghouse to support trail user groups.

Greg Lovelady (WA) said he gets good applications from Federal agencies, but some nonmotorized groups routinely oppose motorized applications. Federal agencies are less likely to submit motorized applications if nonmotorized groups litigate so many motorized applications.

Kim Raap (WY) asked if CRT wants other changes. Deborah Napier responded, no, other than increased funding and support for a clearinghouse. Wendy Coplen (SC) asked what the clearinghouse would do. Deborah Napier said it is intended to support the RTP with technical assistance.

Stuart Macdonald asked what people are doing to bring a positive message to Congress. People applying for or getting grants need to show appreciation to Congress for RTP support.

Marianne Fowler agreed CRT supports increased funding. She said opposition to the RTP during the previous reauthorization in 1997-1998 (which resulted in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century—TEA-21) primarily came from some environmental organizations that developed a report which attacked motorized use, but had no specifics or any evidence that RTP funds were used to harm the environment. CRT responded working with Senators Kempthorne (ID) and Baucus (MT), who maintained an open mind on the impact and any changes needed to the program. CRT obtained good information from the States on actual projects while opponents had no actual negative facts. Nevertheless, Friends of the Earth used opposition to the RTP in a fundraising letter even after the legislation had passed. Some groups may continue to attack the RTP. CRT may need to ask States for specific information and may need quick responses.

Marianne Fowler proceeded to discuss how the RTP fits into overall reauthorization proposals.

Both ISTEA and TEA-21 earmarked transportation funds for particular projects. In ISTEA, five of about 550 "demonstration projects" were projects for pedestrians, bicyclists, or trails. In TEA-21, 110 of the 1,850 "high priority projects" were for pedestrians, bicyclists, or trails. Trails are a positive issue and getting actual projects done in the home district is very attractive to Members of Congress. Getting reelected often depends on visible results- "bringing home the bacon". States can encourage grant recipients to invite representatives to attend ribbon cuttings. Dick Westfall said projects need to have a plan and price tag to get support. States can help local groups with planning and cost estimates for potential earmark projects.

Marianne Fowler said RTC has a listserv on news and legislation, including reauthorization issues, see www.railtrails.org. She said projects should be merit based.

Rails-to-Trails also has a publication available called Trails & Greenways: Advancing the Smart Growth Agenda, available at www.railtrails.org/whatwedo/information/smartgrowth.asp.

Susan Moerschel (DE) asked about transferability of funds. Marianne Fowler said a portion of TE funds can be transferred to other highway programs. RTC and allied organizations want to protect the TE funding level and not allow transferability. Christopher Douwes pointed out that States also may transfer funds to the TE program [although no State has been known to do so]. Tennessee transferred TE funds to the RTP for a hiking trail because TE funds cannot be used for trails that don't relate to surface transportation.

Steve Weston (AR) said many State DOTs would like a takedown from TE for administrative costs, as is permitted under the RTP. Christopher Douwes said this issue has been raised in several States recently. FHWA Headquarters is considering what can be done within current law and regulation to ease the administrative burden on the States.

Further research: Current law does not allow State DOTs to charge direct administrative costs. A State may charge direct and indirect costs incurred for specific TE projects, on a project-by-project basis. Direct and indirect costs are specifically defined in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87 (www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a087/a87_2004.aspx). For a State to charge indirect costs, the indirect costs must be charged consistent with OMB Circular A-87, Attachments C, D, and E. The State must have an indirect cost rate approved consistent with OMB Circular A-87.

Dick Westfall said Illinois is working with Illinois bicycle groups in a "Show Congress" campaign, and asked who is promoting this nationwide. Marianne Fowler said America Bikes (a coalition of bicycle advocacy organizations (www.americabikes.org), is leading a "Show Congress" effort. America Bikes may need specific information from constituents to show specific members of Congress. All members need to see benefits, but particular key members will require special attention.

Deborah Napier will be working with Congressional office press secretaries in Congressional districts with CRT award winners. This will be an attempt to get more local media attention for Congressional representatives and award winning trail projects.

Alex Weiss (FL) sends funding lists of RTP and LWCF projects to all members of Florida's congressional delegation, and encourages grantees to write legislative representatives.

John Davy (VA) asked about improved oversight of how States administer the program. He would like more FHWA review and support for the program, and also clearinghouse support.

The TE Program could be $1.9 billion [over 6 years], and is possibly more endangered than the RTP. There are a variety of concerns about environmental opposition, and there are property rights concerns. More attention has come to Enhancements program. There have seen lawsuits in Kansas and Washington State. In Kansas, people are getting insurance companies involved to try to fight trails by claiming big problems. In Washington State, some people have been arrested while traveling on railbanked property.

[Lunch]

Recreational Trails Program Issues (see Appendix-Discussion Topics)

Obligation Limitation

Susan Moerschel (DE) said the State DOT is holding back 2 percent of RTP funds and asked about the situation in other States. Christopher Douwes said this is because of the obligation limitation on the Federal-aid highway program; over the past several years, the obligation limitation has been lower than the apportioned amount. Many States get their whole apportionment. A few State DOTs reduce the RTP by the 10-13 percent that represents the reduction in obligation limitation. See the Appendix-Obligation Limitation for more information.

Administrative Funds

Bob Walker (MT) submitted questions on whether 7 percent is enough for administrative costs, and if it covered other administrative desires. Almost all States use administrative funds. Some States felt 7 percent doesn't cover actual expenses, but some States use less than 7 percent. Most States are having budget cuts. Some States must code each activity under the RTP. Some States need to do State trail plans and want to use RTP administrative funds. Sean Loughran (OR) said it wouldn't look good to the public if States use more than 7 percent for administration. Steve Weston said it wouldn't look good to the Congress. Some States want to charge overhead (indirect costs). Indirect costs are allowed, but the 7 percent is the maximum allowed for all administrative costs; it isn't 7 percent plus indirect costs. States generally agreed no other percentage is more justifiable than the 7 percent figure. There needs to be research into actual administrative and indirect costs.

NEPA and other Environmental Review

Greg Lovelady asked about NEPA, cultural, historic, and other environmental review requirements. Washington is required to go through a full environmental review process to do any kind of trail project, and Wisconsin is facing the possibility. Wisconsin DNR and the National Park Service are negotiating with the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) on NEPA and Section 106 [of the National Historic Preservation Act] requirements for trails. Some States are using New Jersey's programmatic agreement to allow categorical exclusions for certain kinds of projects. Utah recently completed a new agreement based on New Jersey's agreement, and it could be a model for western States.

Steve Weston said the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department did several agreements with the FHWA division office. Some States said that agreements with DOTs don't always work because of other issues, such as Section 106, endangered species, wetlands, etc. Delegating NEPA compliance to State DOTs took years to address with other State agencies. Working with another agency for a new agreement will take time.

Environmental clearance, especially Section 106 and historic and cultural issues, seem to be taking more time and energy. Tim Mitchell (MN) said a MnDOT archaeologist is used for DNR projects. Several States will need to hire archaeologists. Dick Westfall said many States already have State DNR archaeologists, and may have an in-house environmental, cultural, tribal, etc., review process. In Illinois, RTP projects are working with other Illinois DNR projects.

Working with Nonprofit Organizations

Alex Weiss (Florida) spoke about working with nonprofit organizations and concerns about groups that have trouble with record keeping. Florida has State administrative rules to treat nonprofits equally. There are often audit issues. Florida has conducted orientation sessions for new project sponsors to help nonprofits understand their responsibilities.

In Texas, nonprofits are most of the problem. In Arkansas, the nonprofits have to follow the same procedures as a county or city. When advancing funds, States need to be clear about what the requirements are and communicate the rules early in the grant process. Kansas rates applicants on their reliability on previous projects.

Shannon Dumolt (OK FHWA) said there is a problem with the word "grant". The RTP is not an up-front grant program. A better term is "cost reduction reimbursement program".

Dick Westfall said local nonprofits should work through State associations. The Illinois State Snowmobile Association provides information to individual clubs. Illinois DNR is trying to create the same structure with OHV groups so there is continuity with people who understand the requirements and help communicate with local clubs. Bridget Brown (WI) said Wisconsin has regional mentors to work with nonprofit organizations. Tim Mitchell said all major statewide organizations are represented on the State committee, and the representatives know which local nonprofit organizations can be trusted or not.

Tommy Boxx (MS) asked about requirements for nonprofits to be eligible for funding. Most States require them to have 501(c)(3) status [under the Internal Revenue Code]. Some States require them to work through legal political subdivisions.

Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas

Several States are working on ways to purchase land for OHV recreation. Some are working to buy land through nonprofit organizations, others through the State. Andy Goldbloom (TX) said Texas had a lot of small clubs; the State encouraged the clubs to band together into a larger association to acquire an OHV riding site. Texas is working with Texas A&M University to study motorized needs. There is a lot of demand, but there are few places to ride.

Dick Westfall said the West has a lot of Federal land, and the main issue is the need to maintain lands open for use. In the East, there is a need to find open areas, acquire land, and get zoning clearance to develop OHV parks. OHV parks can be operated by the State, by local governments, by nonprofits, or by for profit organizations. In Illinois, racing circuits attract a lot of attention and can accommodate a lot of different events. Users create trails within the area. The problem is getting the zoning and dealing with opposition. In New Jersey there was a lot of environmental opposition to purchase of an OHV park; NOHVCC helped with meetings to promote discussion. FHWA will distribute copies of the new NOHVCC/NRPA OHV Park Planning book to State trail administrators.

Trail Fees

There is concern about OHV parks being open enough to the public and at a reasonable fee.

Florida uses LWCF regulations which require projects to be open at reasonable hours and no big fee differential for nonmembers or nonresidents.

Motorized Funding

Kim Raap asked if States were integrating the RTP with other State trail programs. Some States have large OHV or snowmobile programs. States should integrate the RTP motorized funds into State OHV and snowmobile programs: if a State has an OHV program, use those State funds to match RTP motorized funds.

Trail Crews

Wyoming started funding a State trail crew using diversified and motorized RTP funds. It purchased trail maintenance equipment for use by a seasonal State trail crew to do heavy maintenance. It may fund a permanent staff person. It developed a simple one-page application for land managers to request equipment and crews. It makes equipment available to borrow for various projects. The State hires the crews and does the paperwork for the Federal managers. There are similar programs in Idaho and Colorado. The Colorado crew notes maintenance needs for future crews. Maine uses the Maine Conservation Corps, and Vermont uses the Vermont Conservation Corps.

Wyoming uses RTP funds for all costs related to the trail crews, and the State provides matching funds. Bill Robinson said West Virginia wanted to bring in an AmeriCorps crew but thought funding room and board was not eligible. Wyoming and Colorado treat these costs as eligible.

Further research by Christopher Douwes: According to OMB Circular A-87, Attachment B, Item 41; and OMB Circular A-122, Attachment B, Items 49 and 55; they are eligible costs, subject to some limitations; see the Circulars at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_default/.

Federal and State Regulations and Financial Management

Kim Raap said the Federal government is often more permissive than the States; some States have built in a lot of barriers. Stuart Macdonald said the goal should be to get good trail work done. States should ask themselves if the costs are reasonable costs to get the work done. States need to keep invoices and document all costs.

Documentation. Texas worked with AmeriCorps, but had to correct documentation. Texas determined it was best for them to work with a county and have the county invoice for the grant.

Facility funding. Susan Moerschel asked if RTP funds could be used to support facilities. Christopher Douwes said the project must be trail related, not for group offices or for meeting facilities. Yes, RTP funds may be used for maintenance facilities, which may include meeting space, but the intention of the RTP isn't to fund meeting space. The primary intent of the RTP is to support actual trail work.

States should use creative ways to identify allowable expenditures or partners that can help do better accountability. New Jersey got corporate donations and matches from other sources. Wyoming draws a distinct line between what is exactly trail-related and what is not.

Eligibility Issues

Eligibility challenges. Brad Eckert (NV) asked if other States had been challenged on declaring projects ineligible. Who makes the determination? There was discussion on project eligibility and how to deal with potential protests. General consensus was that it is best to use criteria to rank projects rather than just saying no. States can set the funding criteria as well as specific eligibility of various types of expenditures. In several States, decisions on criteria and eligibility are made at a very high administrative level or can be changed only every few years. States which have the flexibility update their applications, criteria, and eligible projects annually.

Designated agency. Some States wanted to know how their agencies were designated. The State agency which administers the RTP must be designated by the Governor, and only the Governor can change the designation, not a State agency head. FHWA continues to recognize the agencies originally designated under the original National Recreational Trails Funding Program. Christopher Douwes has records from each State, and will provide copies to anybody who needs them, contact christopher.douwes@dot.gov or call 202-366-5013.

RTP selection process. There was discussion about various project selection processes. The RTP legislation is primary basis for project eligibility and selection. Next comes FHWA's program guidance. Then come recommendations and priorities from the State's committee.

Dick Westfall said there is eligibility and there is priority. A State may determine that a project is eligible, but low priority. States should document project scoring in keeping with priorities.

Oregon requires a preapplication letter to determine project eligibility to weed out projects which are not likely to be eligible. This saves time both for applicants and the State. Arkansas gives out examples of what has been funded and not funded in the past to give project sponsors guidance on what they can expect to get funded.

Florida is required to follow an administrative rule with State regulations. Florida provides training on how to develop grant applications.

West Virginia also requires a letter of intent to apply. The State staff also makes suggestions to help applicants improve their projects, and can provide input about State Board priorities.

Nevada was screening projects before giving them to the advisory committee. Some communities need to rewrite their applications.

Antoinette Norfleet (GA) said when a person asks why a project was not funded, the State will respond that there may be a better funding source. The State also may respond that the project simply wasn't eligible.

Bridget Brown said Wisconsin's highest priority was trail rehabilitation, but perhaps it needed to reevaluate its priorities.

Steve Weston said Arkansas State Commissioners are involved in decisionmaking. State administrators need to be careful about how they make remarks on projects.

State Trail Committees

Wendy Coplen asked about the role of the State committee. Is it mostly to vote on whether or not to exempt the State from the 30 percent minimum requirement? Or does it include setting priorities for the program? At a minimum, the committee should be used to set RTP priorities. FHWA's program guidance lists several roles for the committee. There is some concern that some States need enhanced public participation.

Some States like the consistency of having the Agency determine eligibility and priorities each year rather than possibly changing each year with new committee members. Tim Mitchell said Minnesota depends on its committee for the selection process. The committee members help all user groups understand each other. Christopher Douwes said he recently attended a meeting of the Pennsylvania Recreational Trails Advisory Board, and its members noted that the committee can "take heat" for the State if some project sponsors are unhappy about not being selected. Ken McKowen (CA) stated that California does not involve the RT Advisory Board in the project selection process (for nonmotorized only). The selection process has been in place even before RTP came into being within their Office of Grants and Local Assistance. He didn't feel that the Advisory Board would have the time to thoroughly review and make project selections that would be more fair or absent the whims and pressures of local politics than the Department staff teams were capable of doing.

In some States, the term "advisory" may, by definition, mean a lack of real authority, and may hard to manage. There may be a lack of interest in serving on a committee if it doesn't have any real authority. There was a suggestion to have an appointed decisionmaking board.

Urban vs. Backcountry Project Funding

There was discussion about whether or not the RTP was intended primarily for urban trails or backcountry trails. Christopher Douwes postulated that the RTP originally was intended for backcountry trails or at least a backcountry experience. However, it seems that urban walking tracks or loops are popular applications, especially in southeastern States, and some of these actually are school walking tracks or sidewalks. He wanted to hear what the States thought.

Dick Westfall said all kinds of trails are eligible. Each State will have to determine its own priorities for what kinds of trails it wants to fund.

Wendy Bowles (KS) said if an application looked like a sidewalk it was sent to a source for more appropriate funding, such as transportation enhancements. Andy Goldbloom said Texas wanted to make sure projects looked like trails.

Bill Robinson said West Virginia wants to improve any recreation opportunity to improve health through physical activity, including walking tracks. There is high demand for trails for local trails because they are important to the State. Larry Miller (NJ) said a lot of local parks need any recreation dollars they can get for trails. Sean Loughran pointed out the need to improve health, and the need for close to home trails.

Steve Weston said Arkansas will use tobacco settlement funds for walking tracks to promote public health. He would like to see how that affects demand for RTP funds. Tommy Boxx said he was concerned that walking tracks are high cost per unit facilities. Steve Morris (IN) asked, how does a maintenance project compete with a construction project? How does an urban trail compete with a backcountry trail? Each State needs to determine its priorities.

Colorado has a simplified grant process for projects under $15,000. New Jersey gives points for trail linkages.

Deborah Napier said that CRT's viewpoint was that the original intent of the RTP was not for sidewalks or walking loops, but rather for backcountry trail maintenance for diverse trail uses. Policymakers should remember the source of funds is primarily from motorized recreation.

Fairness to all eligible applicants, as defined by each State, is the main goal. Most States found that a wide variety of projects, both urban and backcountry, were funded in any given year, and that over several years there seemed to be a good mix.

States vary greatly in the kinds of trail needs. Trail programs should respond to changing needs. In several States, many applications are from towns wanting walking tracks or circular park trails. Other States fund these kinds of trails through LWCF or other park development funds. It is helpful to steer applicants to more appropriate funding programs if the RTP is not a good fit.

Apportionment and Fuel Use Formulas

Several administrators asked how FHWA determines apportionments. The formula is based on a model to estimate nonhighway recreational fuel use, developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak Ridge completed a study in July 1994, which was used for allocations in FY 1996 and 1997, and for apportionments in FY 1998 and 1999. Oak Ridge updated the study in July 1999, and the new model was used for all apportionments since FY 2000. The 1999 study is (was) available at www-cta.ornl.gov/publications/offroad.pdf. The model is updated annually with information from the Motorcycle Industry Council, snowmobile registrations and estimates, and light truck registrations. Christopher Douwes pointed out, while the study may not be perfect, it is the only national survey available using a consistent methodology.

Some administrators asked about terminology (allocations, apportionments, obligations, etc.). Information on terminology is available in FHWA's publication, Financing Federal-Aid Highways, available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/olsp/financingfederalaid/.

Friday, November 15 -- 8:30 a.m.-noon

National Recreation Trails

Stuart Macdonald encouraged States to take some leadership on promoting National Recreation Trails. States should recognize some of the best trails that have really good support groups, unique features, or an interesting story. It's a good opportunity for some trails to get more publicity and recognition. States should get their State trail committees involved in selecting and promoting good NRT candidates. See www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/. The deadline for nominations is December 2, 2002, for the next round of designations in June 2003.

National Trails Training Partnership

Stuart Macdonald asked the States to put him in touch with anyone who is doing trail-related training, and to send him copies of any studies or resource materials to publicize or add to the website in electronic form. NTTP is looking for good training opportunities. Please add a link to www.NTTP.net to your websites and include an article about NTTP in your newsletters. Logos and articles can be downloaded from www.NTTP.net.

State Survey

Dick Westfall presented the results of the RTP survey. See the Appendix-State Survey.

Project Ranking and Selection for Motorized Projects

If a State's projects are ranked, and all the motorized projects rank poorly, is the State still obligated to fund the motorized projects, at least up to the 30 percent requirement? Yes. See the Appendix-Motorized Ranking.

Many nonmotorized applications come from governmental entities, but most motorized applications come from nonprofit organizations, which may have less experience writing applications, resulting in weaker ranking. States have mixed results: some find nonprofits rank well, some have problems. Some States have more trouble with local governments than nonprofits.

Equipment Maintenance and Operation

Several States asked if the maintenance and operation of trail construction and maintenance equipment is eligible under the RTP. The answer is not clear. The RTP allows maintenance and restoration of existing recreational trails, and allows the purchase and lease of recreational trail construction and maintenance equipment. It is important to continue to maintain and operate equipment to keep trails in good condition. However, if a project sponsor receives Federal-aid funds to acquire equipment, it looks like double dipping into Federal funds to use RTP funds for continued maintenance and operation. If a project sponsor uses equipment purchased with its own funds, it is reasonable to charge an operations and maintenance fee.

Alex Weiss has information about depreciation of trail building equipment. An administrative agreement is on Florida's website: www.floridagreenwaysandtrails.net/resource/rtp.htm.

There was general consensus that maintenance and equipment funding should be left up to the States. Shannon Dumolt said the project agreement between the State and the project sponsor should be specific that the RTP purchases the equipment, but the project sponsor must maintain, operate, insure, and store the equipment. The costs need to be tied to a specific project, and the project sponsor must have a maintenance and insurance report.

Shannon Dumolt also suggested leasing equipment for trail projects. The RTP allows project sponsors to lease equipment. If a trail organization purchases equipment with its own funds, it would be able to lease the equipment and cover equipment operation and maintenance costs through the rental agreement.

Christopher Douwes researched this topic further after the meeting. See Appendix-Equipment Maintenance and Operation Costs, and Appendix-Equipment User Fees.

Liability Insurance for Trail Groups

In Wyoming, liability insurance is provided through the State. It is no different than managing a ballfield or swimming pool. NOHVCC (www.nohvcc.org) is obtaining information on insurance and liability for OHV areas.

National Scenic Byways Program
(www.bywaysonline.org): Rob Draper, FHWA

Under the National Scenic Byways Program, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes roads for their outstanding qualities by designating them as National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads. There are 95 such nationally designated byways. FHWA promotes them collectively as America's Byways.

While the Secretary has been making designations on a 2-year cycle in 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002, FHWA is not planning for another round of designations for 2004. FHWA will wait for the outcome of Congressional action on the reauthorization of TEA-21 and, more specifically, the continuation of the National Scenic Byways Program beyond 2003. Thus, the earliest FHWA may solicit nominations for national designation will be 2004 or 2005 with designation decisions made in 2005 or 2006, respectively.

More information on nominations and designations is available on FHWA's website for the National Scenic Byways Program at www.bywaysonline.org/designation/nomination.html.

The other main component of the program is a $25-million per year discretionary grant program. For FY 2003, FHWA received 302 applications requesting a total of $75 million. The House has proposed to direct $9.5 million to specific projects. The Senate did not direct funds to any specific byway projects. Congress has not completed work on the Department's FY 2003 Appropriations. The status of the House proposed "earmarks" will be resolved in Conference between House and Senate members designated to negotiate a final Appropriations bill. More information on the scenic byways grants is at www.bywaysonline.org/grants/index.html.

Just as the State Trail Administrators support the RTP, the State Scenic Byways coordinators strongly support their program. People take pride in their communities and develop an appreciation of their cultural, historic, or scenic resources.

Scenic Byways projects can include trails that relate to scenic byway improvements. The trail project must be connected to the byway and benefit the byway traveler. Sean Loughran is on Oregon's State byways committee. Oregon used Scenic Byways funds on two trail projects on the Oregon Coast Scenic Byway. The historic Columbia Gorge Highway also received Scenic Byway funds; it now has segments dedicated entirely as a pedestrian and bicycle facility. Indiana opened an old rest area for use as a trailhead along the National Road Heritage Trail along an abandoned railroad that parallels the old highway.

Accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is civil rights legislation which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The U.S. Access Board hosted the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas in 1997 to 1999. The report is available at www.access-board.gov/outdoor/outdoor-rec-rpt.htm. Federal agencies, State agencies, NASTA, trail organizations, and disability rights organizations participated in rulemaking committee for trails, outdoor recreation access routes, beach access routes, and picnic and camping areas. The committee submitted its final report to the U.S. Access Board in September 1999. The Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has looked at costs associated with the proposals, and the Access Board expects to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the trail regulations some time in 2003. The guidelines still are not regulations, however, the proposed guidelines may be considered best practices. States still must provide program access. Support facilities must be accessible (such as restrooms).

On 3 September 2002, the Access Board issued final rules for Recreation Facilities Accessibility Guidelines (see www.access-board.gov/recreation/status.htm). These guidelines address amusement rides, boating facilities, fishing piers and platforms, golf courses and miniature golf, sports facilities, swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.

The Access Board is working on guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way (PROW), which includes sidewalks, street crossings, and intersections. The PROW guidelines do not include trails outside of street rights-of-way, but would apply to trails within public street rights-of-way and locations where trails cross public streets. Draft guidelines were released in June 2002 for public comment until October 28, 2002. See www.access-board.gov/prowac/status.htm.

The US Forest Service is developing trail accessibility guidelines which will be applicable to US Forest Service lands. See www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/accessibility/.

It is difficult to develop ADA guidelines for all trail situations because each trail is site specific. For more information on accessible trails and recreation issues, see www.AmericanTrails.org. Click on "Resources & Library" and then click on "Accessible Trails."

Ken McKowen said advocacy groups sued California several years ago about accessibility issues. California State Parks must provide accessible trails in State parks in each region of California (redwoods, north central & southern coasts, desert, mountain, etc.) to give representative experiences. There is a general policy within California State Parks that new trails and major trail realignment projects will be made accessible or as barrier free as possible (no steps, water bars, grades exceeding 5%-8% etc.). The State is working with Federal agencies, other State agencies, local governments, and trail users. California worked with Whole Access, a disabilities rights organization (www.wholeaccess.org), on a Design Charrette to develop a cooperative process to improve trail accessibility, see www.wholeaccess.org/charrette/. California State Parks has accessibility information at www.cal-parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=21944.

Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) training

UTAP information is at www.americantrails.org/resources/accessible/UTAPsum.html. Many State administrators have been through UTAP training. It's a good way to learn technical aspects of accessibility through trail measurements. FHWA has provided funding to American Trails to provide free UTAP training for up to 25 State trail employees per year.

Tim Mitchell asked if there is a mechanism to review RTP projects for ADA compliance. The UTAP is an excellent method to review trails for compliance. Funding for UTAP training could come from a State's administrative or educational funds. Performing UTAP assessment on trails does not fit neatly into any RTP category. Monitoring the trail for trail maintenance could be eligible as a regular project, but has not been precisely determined. FHWA's reauthorization proposal is likely to clarify that trail assessment for accessibility is eligible under the RTP.

State Trail Administrator Issues

Some States have websites that are easy to find and easy to use to get RTP and other trail information. Some States have websites that are easy to find, but have little RTP or other trail information. Some States have good websites, but they are difficult to find. Some States don't appear to have any RTP information available on their websites. FHWA and American Trails would like to have links to each State's website that provides the best way to get to State trail information and to RTP information. States should make sure they have accurate links to FHWA (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/) and American Trails (www.AmericanTrails.org).

Public Health and Recreation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several Federal agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote health through increased physical activity and outdoor recreation. See www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/index.htm for more information and links to other programs. The CDC is promoting Active Community Environments (ACEs), an initiative to promote walking, bicycling, and the development of accessible recreation facilities. See also www.kidsobesity.org.

FHWA's Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, operated by the University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, also has information on public health and recreation (www.pedbikeinfo.org), including information and links to Safe Routes to School.

Active Living by Design, a part of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, will establish and evaluate innovative approaches to increase physical activity through community design, public policies, and communications strategies. Grant proposals are being accepted at www.activelivingbydesign.org.

The Oregon Health Department website will have a new plan on health and recreation available in February 2003; see www.regweb.com/beattygroup/healthyactiveoregon.

Hunting Issues

Several States have conflicts between hunters and trail users. Some States are restricting nearly all trail use within public game lands. Some States have concerns about trails going through public hunting areas. There is also concern about hunters using ATVs improperly; many hunters who use ATVs don't see themselves as ATV users, and think ATV trail rules don't apply to them if they are hunting, especially when retrieving animals. There are also issues about access for hunters who have disabilities, and use ATVs as their wheelchairs.

State and local regulations apply; and it depends on who owns the land. Some State parks don't allow firearms. Most States prohibit the discharge of firearms on or across trail rights-of-way. However, hunters often can't see whether or not they are on or near trails. Wisconsin is looking at specific regulations on when and where hunting can take place on or from State trails.

Interest collected on up-front grant amounts

Question: If a grantee or subgrantee receives an advance and puts the funds in an interest bearing account, who retains the interest earned on the advance?

Discussion: Does interest on cash advance on RTP funding belong to the State or the grantee? or is that an issue between organizations and the IRS? The problem FHWA has is with the State receiving interest. Who wants to deal with that small amount of money? There is a way to transfer funds to another Federal agency so that the interest is not an issue (23 U.S.C. 132). The sponsor could also set up a non-interest bearing account. We need guidance.

Further research by Christopher Douwes: We have been trying to resolve this question in fits and spurts since November 2002. We still don't have a final answer. DRAFT ANSWER: If the grantee or subgrantee is a State agency or Indian tribal government, the State agency or Indian tribal government may retain the interest earned on the advance. If the grantee or subgrantee is any other entity, follow the procedures in 49 CFR 18.21(i), which states:

  1. Interest earned on advances. Except for interest earned on advances of funds exempt under the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (31 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) and the Indian Self-Determination Act (23 U.S.C. 450), grantees and subgrantees shall promptly, but at least quarterly, remit interest earned on advances to the Federal agency. The grantee or subgrantee may keep interest amounts up to $100 per year for administrative expenses.

95 Percent rule

If a Federal agency sponsors an RTP project, the total Federal share including the RTP and the funds from the Federal agency sponsor are limited to 95 percent. The original intent is that there should be some sponsoring agency or organization other than the Federal government-some kind of local interest. Projects also may use other Federal funds from other Federal agencies. Federal employees working on a trail project is an allowable expense, but they have to document in the proposal how much Federal time. You can't double dip. The 5 percent cannot come through a programmatic match where all the other projects for the State are overmatched; projects using the Federal agency sponsor provision or the Federal funds match provision may not be counted in the programmatic match calculation.

Next meeting

Most States restrict out of State travel to one meeting per State fiscal year, and most State fiscal years run July through June. Suggestions for the next State Trail Administrators meeting were:

Christopher Douwes conducted an email survey. The votes were (one vote per State):

Therefore, the next State Trail Administrators meeting will take place on September 19-20, 2003, in Indianapolis before the Mid-America Trails and Greenways Conference.

Appendix-Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics Provided with the Agenda

From Susan Moerschel (DE)
Our Rec Trails funds come through our State DelDOT. DelDOT requires us to hold back (not spend) 2% of our apportionment every year. I've argued against the hold back but DelDOT requires me to hold back 2% for Rec Trails because they must hold back 2% of TE funds. I'd like to know if this is a FHWA requirement and if other States must do the same.

From Greg Lovelady (WA)

  1. Addressing the requirement that RTP projects comply with NEPA. So many of the RTP proposals don't relate to NEPA-maintenance, installing signs, or purchasing equipment snowgroomers, hand tools, etc.). We did see that New Jersey had worked out an agreement with FHWA that exempts certain project types. We wonder if others have done anything similar?

  2. Though it's an old topic, it would still be interesting to review what others are doing to meet the motorized assured access requirement.

From Bob Walker (MT)
I wonder if other States are somewhat hampered by the 7% limit of funds for program administration. In Montana we assess 10% from State originated funds and 19% for federally originated funds. When we wrote the original bill for RTP, the 7% limit sounded like a good limit on dollars "skimmed" for administration. However, after 11 years of experience we might want to consider increasing that amount to 10% or a little more.

From Alex Weiss (FL)

  1. Working with nonprofits-perils and pitfalls (as well as the successes)
  2. Working with the RTP advisory committees-how used by different States
  3. Urban versus rural issues-providing equity via the grant evaluation criteria

Based on our efforts to encourage other governmental entities to enter the realm of motorized recreational trail development: LIABILITY ISSUES. I know NOHVCC and John English have done great deal of work on this and some states must have addressed the issue on their motor parks. Perhaps Deborah Napier of MIC can discuss.

From Stuart Macdonald
Also, Jack Placchi, formerly CO OHV program manager will be available on the morning of the 14th to talk about the big OHV Media Campaign project which the State has partially funded and is a big effort at education.

Appendix-Obligation Limitation Discussion

Handout provided with the meeting notes of September 2001, and with the November 2002 Agenda

The RTP legislation requires the Governor to designate the State agency which will administer the RTP. Most Governors designated a State resource agency. However, under 23 U.S.C. 104(e), FHWA apportions funds to the State DOT. Then, the DOT must pass RTP funds through to the State resource agency. Some DOTs pass through 100 percent of the RTP funds, but many DOTs limit the amount of RTP funds to the annual obligation limitation. Administrators wanted to know why and what could be done to resolve this problem. Some States would like the RTP funds to be apportioned directly to the State agency designated by the Governor. There are positive and negative effects associated with making changes.

There is a difference between apportionments authorized in legislation and the annual obligation limitation provided to the States to permit projects to go forward. For full details, see Financing Federal-Aid Highways at www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/financingfederalaid/. Below is an explanation of how the difference between apportionments and obligation limitation affects the RTP.

FHWA apportions funds to the States through various funding categories (National Highway System, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, Surface Transportation Program, Bridge, Interstate Maintenance, Minimum Guarantee, Recreational Trails Program, etc.) on October 1 each year (at the beginning of the Federal fiscal year). The amount of apportionments authorized is established in law (at present, under TEA-21). However, the Congress establishes an obligation limitation each year, which limits the amount of funds that States may obligate each year. Over the past several years, the obligation limitation has been 85 percent to 90 percent of the apportionments. FHWA apportions the obligation limitation as one sum to the State DOT; each State DOT then determines how to use its limitation among the various funding categories. Some States concentrate their obligations on particular categories (perhaps obligating 100 percent of IM and NHS), but that means they must obligate other categories at lower rates.

Some States decided the RTP is such a small program, that they are willing to provide 100 percent of the obligation limitation to the State resource agency. Some State DOTs limit the RTP obligations to the same percentage as the annual obligation limitation. The problem for some State resource agencies is that it looks like their DOTs are limiting the availability of RTP funds. Some States would like RTP funds to be apportioned directly to the State agency designated by the Governor. This change may have both positive and negative possible effects:

Positive (from a State resource agency viewpoint)

Negative (from a State resource agency viewpoint)

Appendix-State Survey

The Recreational Trails Program: A View from the States

Dick Westfall, Supervisor, Greenways and Trails Section
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

  1. What is the demand for RTP funds, compared to what's available?
    Most of the States that responded are experiencing a high demand for RTP funds. "3-4 times" the annual apportionment was the most frequent response.
Response #
1X 1
1-2X 5
2X 3
2-3X 6
3X 2
3-4X 7
4X 3
4-5X 1
  1. What types of RTP projects are being funded in terms of users: hiking, equestrian, ATV, snowmobile, etc.?
    All of the States that responded fund a variety of trails. "All types" was the most frequent response, followed by "hiking-walking."
Response #
All types 12
Hiking-walking 10
Multiuse 3
Other 3
  1. What types of RTP projects are being funded in terms of project scope: maintenance, reconstruction, new construction, etc.?
    All of the States that responded fund a variety of projects. "New construction" was the most frequent response.
Response #
New construction 17
Maintenance 6
All types 4
Other 1
  1. Who are the sponsors?
    The type of sponsor varies among the States that responded. Most States fund both government and nonprofit projects. Very few States fund for profit business projects.
Response #
Government & nonprofits 10
Government only 6
Mostly local government 5
All types (except for profit) 5
Mostly State government 2
  1. How are the State Trail Advisory Committees working?
    In most of the States that responded, the committees are working "well". In some States, there are conflicts between users, e.g., motorized and nonmotorized.
Response #
Well/great 19
Some problems/conflicts 4
Active 2
Other 3
  1. What's the best thing about the RTP?
    The best thing about the RTP varies among the States that responded. "Funding/high federal match" was the most frequent response.
Response #
Funding/high Federal match 11
Flexibility 5
Other 12
  1. What's the worst thing about the RTP?
    The "worst thing" about the RTP also varies among the States that responded. "Not enough funding" and "delays" red tape were the most frequent responses.
Response #
Not enough funding 6
Delays 4
No response 4
Other 14
  1. Does your State meet the 30% minimum motorized goal each year?
    Most of the States that responded meet the minimum 30% for motorized. However, a significant proportion of States are not able to consistently meet this minimum.
Response #
Yes 17
Sometimes 4
No 4
No response 3
  1. Does your State have a State motorized trail program?
    Slightly less than half of the States that responded have a State motorized program. Of those, slightly more than half integrate their State program with the RTP.
Response #
No 14
Yes 12
Integrated 5
Not integrated 3
No response 2
  1. Do you have suggestions on how to better meet the 30% motorized goal?
    How to better meet the 30% minimum goal varies among the States that responded. "Work more closely with" and "outreach" to motorized interests were the most frequent responses. Some States noted that motorized interests are not always organized into clubs which can apply for RTP funds.
Response #
No response 9
Outreach/better communication 4
Other 15
  1. Should the RTP be folded into the TE program?
    The States responded with a resounding "no!"
Response #
No 22
Some pros & cons 3
No response 3

RTP: Some Thoughts and the Future

Appendix-Motorized Ranking

Question: If a State's motorized projects rank poorly, may the State exercise the option to waive the 30 percent motorized requirement?

Answer: The RTP legislation makes clear that the 30 percent minimum requirements take precedence over whether or not a project was a good or popular project. Here are the RTP legislation and guidance on the advisory committee waiver:

RTP Legislation: 23 U.S.C. 206:
(d)(3)(C) WAIVER AUTHORITY.-A State recreational trail advisory committee established under subsection (c)(2), may waive, in whole or in part, the requirements of clauses (ii) and (iii) of subparagraph (A) if the State recreational trail advisory committee determines and notifies the Secretary that the State does not have sufficient projects to meet the requirements of clauses (ii) and (iii) of subparagraph (A).

RTP Guidance
If the State's Recreational Trail Advisory Committee determines that the State does not have sufficient eligible projects to meet one of the 30 percent requirements, the committee may exempt the State from either or both of the 30 percent requirements. This decision should take place in a public meeting. The State must forward a record of the decision to the FHWA division office, and the FHWA division office must forward a copy to the FHWA Headquarters program office.

The FHWA Guidance adds the word "eligible"-it was not in the legislation. FHWA did not define "eligible"; the State has to determine "eligible". Here is an example to figure out at what point the State needs to meet the 30 percent minimum motorized requirement.

That leaves 20 eligible projects for $1,000,000, meaning 5 eligible projects won't get funded.

If motorized projects consistently seem to rate poorly, it would be a good idea to determine why. Are the projects bad projects, or is the rating system skewed? The State should be proactive and figure out how to improve the motorized project applications.

Appendix-Equipment Maintenance and Operation Costs

Excerpt from the Recreational Trails Program Guidance (in italics):

Grant Management

States are to follow State law and procedures when awarding and administering RTP subgrants to local and Indian tribal governments in accordance with 49 CFR 18.37. Subawards by a State to institutions of higher education, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations are to be awarded and administered by the State in accordance with 49 CFR part 19, the USDOT's regulation that implements the government-wide common rule for grants and cooperative agreements to institutions of higher education, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations. The USDOT regulations are available on the World Wide Web at www.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/legsregs/index.cfm.

Further research on Equipment Maintenance and Operation Costs

For allowable costs for State, local, and Indian Tribal governments, see OMB Circular A-87, Attachment B, at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a087_2004#attb: Item 15, Depreciation and use allowances; Item 19, Equipment and other capital expenditures; Item 28, Maintenance, operations, and repairs; Item 29, Materials and supplies.

For allowable costs for nonprofit organizations, see OMB Circular A-122, Attachment B, at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a122_2004#attb: Item 11, Depreciation and use allowances; Item 15, Equipment and other capital expenditures; Item 27, Maintenance and repair costs; Item 28, Materials and supplies.

A State may allow a subgrantee to use RTP funds to operate and maintain equipment (A-87/B-28, and A-122/B-27). A grantee or subgrantee must exclude the computation of depreciation or use allowances from the value of Federally funded equipment and matching requirements (A-87/B-15(c), A-122/B-11(c)).

The value of equipment acquired under the RTP may not be used toward the match for an RTP project to maintain and operate equipment. That would be using RTP funds to match RTP funds.

The value of an RTP project to maintain and operate equipment may not be used to match the acquisition of equipment under the RTP. That would be using RTP funds to match RTP funds.

Appendix-Equipment User Fees

Excerpt from the RTP Guidance (in italics):

User Fees

Nothing in the RTP legislation prohibits project sponsors from charging fees for use. States and project sponsors may negotiate appropriate fees that a project sponsor may charge for use within a recreation area. 49 CFR 18.25 states:

The basis for charging user fees should be determined and specified in the project agreement between the State and the subgrantee. The income should be used to support the project or other projects eligible for assistance under the RTP.

Further research on Equipment User Fees

The RTP guidance is accurate, but note that 49 CFR 18.25(g)(1) and (g)(2) also allow States to deduct program income from total allowable costs, or add to the funds committed to a project.

If a nonprofit organization acquires equipment through the RTP, may the nonprofit organization charge other organizations an equipment user fee? Yes, an organization may charge a user or rental fee during the grant period and treat it as program income (49 CFR 19.24). According to 49 CFR 19.24(b), program income must be either:

  1. added to funds committed to the project and used to further eligible project or program objectives,
  2. used to finance the non-Federal share of the project or program, or
  3. deducted from the total project or program allowable cost.

Federally funded projects should not be charged a fee that includes depreciation, but the fee may cover operation and maintenance costs (A-122/B-11(c)). If the equipment is used on a non-Federally funded project, the fee may include depreciation, operation, and maintenance costs.

According to 49 CFR 19.24(e), there are no Federal requirements for program income after the grant period. The State's agreement with the subgrantee must specify the grant period.

Conclusion

If RTP funds are used the purchase trail construction and maintenance equipment, the State's agreement with the subgrantee should be specific about who must maintain, operate, insure, and store the equipment, and at whose cost. The costs need to be tied to a specific project, and the project sponsor must have maintenance and insurance reports.



Attendance

Arkansas Steve Weston
California Ken McKowen
Delaware Susan Moerschel, David Bartoo
Florida Alexandra Weiss, Brian Telfair (FHWA)
Georgia Antoinette Norfleet, Eric Hunter
Illinois Dick Westfall
Indiana Steve Morris
Kansas Wendy Bowles
Maine Mike Gallagher
Minnesota Tim Mitchell
Mississippi Tommy Boxx
Missouri Jessica Terrell
Montana [Bob Walker attended the Symposium, but couldn't attend the meeting]
Nevada Brad Eckert
New Jersey Larry Miller
New Mexico Sandra Massengill, Cindy Padilla
North Carolina Darrell McBane
Oklahoma Susan Henry, Shannon Dumolt (FHWA)
Oregon Sean Loughran
Pennsylvania Wilmer Henninger
South Carolina Wendy Coplen, Marshall Johnson, Starr Ogle, Robert Owens
South Dakota [Scott Carbonneau attended the Symposium, but couldn't attend the meeting]
Texas Andy Goldbloom
Virginia John Davy
Washington Greg Lovelady, Megan Hall (FHWA)
West Virginia Bill Robinson
Wisconsin Bridget Brown
Wyoming Kim Raap
National Association of State Trail Administrators: Stuart Macdonald
FHWA Headquarters: Christopher Douwes, Rob Draper
Bureau of Land Management: Jack Placchi, Colorado
Coalition for Recreational Trails: Deborah Napier (Motorcycle Industry Council), Marianne Fowler (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)
Updated: 02/12/2014
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