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2011 State Trail Administrators Meeting

Meeting Notes

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

National Recreation Trails (NRT) Update

Presented by: Steve Elkinton (National Park Serve (NPS)

The National Trail System Act of 1968 (16 U.S.C. 1241-51) authorizes creation of a national trail system comprised of:

  1. National Scenic Trails (NST)
  2. National Historic Trails (NHT)
  3. National Recreation Trails (NRT)
  4. Connecting and Side trails

A good place to learn about NRTs is online. Please see: http://www.nps.gov/nrt/ and http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/.

North Dakota recently issued a booklet which highlights designated NRTs as well as other trails. A new trail guide has been developed highlighting trail opportunities in State Parks, Recreation Areas, Nature Preserves, and Forests. The guide was made available to the public at no charge in late May 2010 and will be updated periodically to reflect changes to the Departments trail systems. Download the map at: www.parkrec.nd.gov/activities/hiking.html.

Fun Facts!

As energy projects proliferate, some electric transmission lines are looking at trail corridors, and are increasingly impacting NRT corridors. Most historic trails are mostly auto tour routes. Getting signage along these highways has proven to be a big challenge. Steve has determined that a third of the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have parts of the National Trails System within their boundaries -- a tremendous opportunity for better urban connections. Elkinton is trying to figure out how to better embed trails in with the communities they go through. He is working with MPOs to integrate trails into and serve local communities.

Steve is also trying to determine how to embed NSTs and NHTs in urban communities. There are also State park connections. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, for example, runs through or adjacent to a lot of State Park and forest lands. The National Trails System goes through or is adjacent to approximately 475 State parks.

In the coming years the National Park Service and advocates of the National Trails System hopes to be able to do a lot more marketing for the NTS. The Partnership for the National Trails System has an ambitious set of goals for the 50th anniversary of the Trails System in 2018. American Trails is responsible for developing a marketing plan for the NRTs and works to promote NRTs to develop community awareness and publicize trail opportunities. American Trails has developed and maintains the online database (http://www.americantrails.org/NRTDatabase/), and other web pages that describe many of the designated trails in every State (http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/stateindex.html).

Nominating a trail for NRT designation

Steve Elkinton encourages State Trail Administrators to nominate good trails for the NRT program. Keep the NRT program up to date with the exuberance of great new trails around the country. Stuart suggested they be RTP-funded.

Question - Is this "certification" forever?

A: There is no requirement for the trail to exist in perpetuity, or that the designation will remain indefinitely, but only that the trail will exist for at least 10 years. But it seems as if most trails are in perpetuity. Most trails continue to grow and continue to exist and thrive.


National Trails System / America's Great Outdoors

The vision of America's Great Outdoors (AGO) is fourfold:

President Obama launched the America's Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative on April 16, 2010, to foster a 21st-century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people. He charged the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality with leading this initiative.

The President directed senior Administration officials to undertake a listening tour to learn from communities across America that have developed innovative and successful conservation initiatives. The result was perhaps the most robust public conversation about conservation in American history: 51 public listening sessions with more than 10,000 participants and more than 105,000 comments submitted. Building on this conversation, on February 16, 2011, Federal agencies submitted to the President "America's Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations," a report which defines an action plan for conservation and recreation in the 21st century.

The AGO report identified 10 major goals and 75 action items to advance this initiative, from expanding youth programs to increasing public awareness about conservation to better managing our public lands. Among these were three major place-based goals to focus the collective conservation and recreation efforts of the Federal government: create and enhance urban parks and green spaces, renew and restore rivers, and conserve large, rural landscapes.

During the spring and summer of 2011, Interior Secretary Salazar continued the conversation with Americans, this time seeking recommendations in each State about opportunities that support the three place-based goals of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. Read the State projects and download the full report here: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/feds/AGO-fifty-state-report-2011.html

The National Park Service is looking forward to a five-year, 36-point action plan. One thing that came out of initiative is that Secretary Salazar strongly supported enhancing water trails. He wants to see more kids and families in the water, playing, exploring, and learning. He is hoping to recognize, over the next few years, a dozen or more water trails. Water trails can act as the recreation core with blueways surrounding the area supporting water recreation. This designation program can make these trails eligible for LWCF. Another goal is to designate more water trails as National Recreation Trails.


Accessibility

Christopher Douwes shared the Proposed Accessibility Guidelines (http://www.access-board.gov/prowac/nprm.htm). When you have a facility intended for pedestrian use within the Public Right of Way you have the legal requirement to ensure accessibility. Accessibility has been required for Federal-aid projects since the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968. Then there was the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (http://www.access-board.gov/enforcement/Rehab-Act-text/intro.htm) that requires providing program accessibility. For trails, not every trail has to be accessible, as in cases where back country trails designed for accessibility would negatively impact the environment, but where applicable, some trails may need to be accessible either with new construction projects or improvements.

After the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the US Department of Justice developed the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (http://www.ada.gov/stdspdf.htm). The DOJ published revised regulations in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010. See http://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm.

The Standards and Guidelines have now been merged. You can go to access-board.gov or ada.gov. The Access Board has spent 20 years to develop new proposed Access Guidelines to incorporate recreational trails and outdoor facilities. The Board developed a report but has not yet finalized the guidelines.

The ADA primarily is civil rights legislation. It covers

There are "conditions for departure" for trails that cannot be made accessible. It may be possible to have sections accessible, but some harder to reach backcountry areas, it may just not feasible.

The Guidelines for the Federal areas will probably be adopted for the Federal-aid highway program, but there is no timeframe proposed for this.

Default guidelines for trail accessibility are the "building standards" until the standards for outdoor areas is officially released.

When working with recreational trails, you want to retain "recreational value" and not ruin that value with developing up to "building standards." But there are also situations where you want to build to higher standards, so that is why there are guidelines being developed for shared use paths.

The shared use paths guidelines may eventually have a lot of similarities with the outdoor recreation access route guidelines.


Shared Use Paths

The term "Shared Use Path" means a multi-use trail or other path, physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier, either within a highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way, and usable for transportation purposes. Shared use paths may be used by pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, equestrians, and other nonmotorized users.

Learn more at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/design_guidance/freeways.cfm

If you have significant bicycle use, the width would probably need to be greater.

Recreation and transportation are not mutually exclusive. The same trail, path, or roadway can be used for transportation or recreation purposes.

The Access Board and Forest Service have looked at "barrier free" as a term, but are not authorizing the term. "Barrier free" still is not good enough for accessibility. While not part of the Access Board’s guidelines, the Access Board recognizes the public’s understanding of "barrier free" and unofficially encourages it.

Signage and public information are the keys. It doesn't make the trail accessible, but at least provides the basic information needed for potential visitors to determine whether the facility matches their abilities.

These standards would apply to alterations or new construction.

The term "reasonable accommodation" deals with workplace issues. The concept is still correct when talking about transportation and recreation, but the term to use when considering exceptions is "technically infeasible". In new construction, cost cannot be a factor. For example, when you are building a new highway, you can't say "we just can't make it safe for motorcyclists." Similarly, when building a new trail, you can't say "we just can't make it accessible" unless it is technically infeasible. A building facility needs to be accessible, because it would be extremely rare to have a "technically infeasible" situation.

Other powered driven mobility devices (OPDMD)

See basic information and examples of policies on OPDMD at http://www.americantrails.org/resources/accessible/OPDMD-DOJ-requirement-basic.html

Some States have released their own statewide policy. A good policy example doesn’t appear to exist yet. A statewide policy, however, is not a substitute for assessments of individual trails by local trail management agencies. There are a lot of different examples how to incorporate power driven mobility devices onto local trail systems, but no outstanding example that covers all the variations and needs. Arkansas has said yes to being able to use certain mobility devices but only has listed specific locations and acceptable devices.

California has limited specifications for what devices are allowed. Its specifications include dimensions, speed, and emissions. Part of the issue is that technology keeps advancing so that the specifications need to keep changing or becoming more specific. For example we are seeing the development of more electric motorcycles and electric All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). So it keeps getting harder to continue to limit categories of devices and making determinations about which devices are designed for accessible travel for individuals with real mobility challenges, versus those using these devices primarily for recreation.

For more information on policies and assessments for OPDMD use, see Analysis of state and local OPDMD regulations: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/accessible/policies-address-power-mobility-rule.html

Until there is some legal precedence set, there will probably be no legal standards enforced. Eventually the Forest Service will come out with a determination of accessibility / legality of mobility devices and what's allowed on Federal Lands.

The Secretary of Transportation is allowed to grant exceptions to allow motorized use on otherwise nonmotorized trails constructed with Federal-aid highway program funds. Only one State has requested an exception for a TE-funded bridge project to allow motorized use.

See also:


Thursday, September 15, 2011

On the phone:

North Carolina
Kim Anderson - Iowa
Beth Shumate - Montana
Alex Weiss - Florida

Federal-aid Highway Authorization

At the time of STAM 2011 (September 2011) - The House has passed a 6 month extension. The Senate is working on a clean extension. Extension legislation has gotten to Senate, but one Senator is insisting on legislation that will make the TE program optional for States. Some issues holding up the clean extension of the bill is disaster relief from recent hurricanes that is in this bill, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization, and Surface Transportation Program (STP) reauthorization.

Christine Jourdain (American Council of Snowmobile Associations) - Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) can do things that the government can't do. The snowmobile council has been meeting 2-3 times per month. They have a lot of motorized and nonmotorized involvement and have been working on a proposal for an extension or full reauthorization.

The FAA ceases to exist after Friday, so there is a certain urgency to passing an extension quickly.

American Trails has up-to-date information regarding authorization proposals and status. See: http://www.americantrails.org/reauth.html

Again, as of the documentation of these notes, Congressman Mica has begun to develop a proposal but hasn't put anything in writing yet.

If the Coalition had its way they would keep everything as is. Let the States decide how to spend money and give the States flexibility. As snowmobilers, they have come to rely on the dollars they contribute to the RTP program and would like to keep program as is.

Moses Mondary (NM) - In NM, between safe routes to school, enhancements, trails, it's about $10 million a year. But it's not so much the funding as the obligation authority. The states are not going to want to take funds from core highway programs to give to trails.

Christopher - Recent study on jobs shows that the bike/ped projects actually create more jobs because they are smaller and more labor intensive.

The Coalition for Recreational Trails has a fact sheet and key points that can be downloaded as a PDF file. See: http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/RTPInformationSheet.pdf

Questions regarding Authorization

Q: Snowmobilers want more money coming back? Does this mean you want to change the 30-30-40 requirement?

A: No - we do not want to change the legislation.

Christopher - If you look at the August 2011 RTP Update (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/rtp_te_update/2011/august/) you'll see the latest proposals.

On the US DOT Secretary Blog (http://fastlane.dot.gov), there has been a lot of talk of jobs, jobs, jobs. How much will $1 million give you? A lot more with RTP than roads...

Bryan Alexander (GA): Should the study of fuel-use be reapproached?

Christopher: All ideas are welcome. The RTP admininstrative funds are the sole source of funding for trail-related research. FHWA has not used any of the environment and research planning funds for trail-related research.

Sherry Winnie (VT) - When was the last time there was a federal study of trail users?

Steve Elkinton (NPS)- There was a study for 1 historic trail (NPS) about 10 years ago. But no; what Sherry asks has not been done.

Bob Richards (TN) - On the Virginia Creeper Trail, there was a study done in 2007 (may be repeated in 2009). Bob has the study in PDF format if anyone wants it. The study has shown a lot of positive economic impact.

James Radabaugh (MI) - On the Michigan State University website under the Parks and Recreation area, there are some studies posted.

Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use: A mistake was made in the fuel use model over last few years. The model grossly underestimated light truck use. Overall, we really don't know exactly the amount of nonhighway recreational fuel use tax revenue. But the model has been adjusted and will change next year's apportionments for some States. See: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/funding/. Editor's note. This adjustment was made in December 2011. See Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Factors for Revised Apportionments for FY 2009 to 2012 for an explanation.


Livability Initiatives

How do Recreational Trails fit into the Livability Initiative?

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities has taken a lead role in developing principles and outlining a vision for livable communities. See: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/partnership/. The Partnership includes involvement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Some people say livability deals with communities. What is Livability to you?

Kim Anderson(FHWA-IA)... connectivity.
Beth Shumate (MT)... connectivity.
Darrell McBane (NC)... connectivity.
Alex Weiss (FL) ... connectivity.

Josh DeBruyn (MI) said the Agency perspective is incorporating stakeholder engagement and what the community wants into project planning. Josh's personal perspective is that Livability means choice of housing and transportation. Christopher said Josh's viewpoint is in line with the USDOT viewpoint.

Amber Thelen (MI DOT) - What is important to stakeholders is getting them engaged. Listening and then acting.

Christopher - In some cases this deals with income issues. Similar to Environmental Justice (EJ). Environmental Justice is about involving people from all walks of life in the decisionmaking process. Keep the needs of the community in consideration and involve the entire community. This deals with civil rights issues and is about providing access to affordable housing and access to jobs.

What is environmental justice? FHWA viewpoint: "To avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority populations and low-income populations. 2) To ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decisionmaking process. 3) To prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations."

Bob Richards (TN) - Is Environmental Justice (EJ) part of Title 6? EJ is related. It is an executive directive, not titled legislation.

Sherry - Livability is designed to enhance local economies and to enhance local options, adding and improving roads and bridges, and looking at future funding for trails. Livability means developing transportation choices. It is also about providing health benefits especially for the younger generation. Vermont has a very proactive effort to promote getting children outdoors on trails and bikeways. Vermont includes youth corps as much as possible. Vermont has seen a lot of community built through trail organizations.

Steve Elkinton - Livability is similar to the difference between ISTEA and HOTEA. HOTEA focused on highways only. ISTEA is much better for livability, for communities, and for trails. The challenge is to gather allies in trail groups to rally and establish training opportunities over the next couple of years no matter what happens in legislation. Steve suggested we need to get together to create a new series of livability conferences to get people together on this new challenge.

In reply to a question about the Recreational Trails Program advisory committee requirement, Christopher said that even if there is no specific funding for the program, the advisory committee requirement will still be in place (technically) unless the program is eliminated.


Plenary Session: RTP Project Administration
(Robert Fijol, Michigan FHWA; Betty Bangerter, Utah FHWA; Alex Weiss, Florida (remote))
Funding Issues: Unspent Funds, Rescissions, Unobligated Balances, Completing Projects, Performance Measures

Involves authorization, appropriation/obligation authority, State target, obligation, unobligated balances, inactive obligations.

Moral of the Story - It's up to the State how much money gets obligated to the program.

Utah - looks at projects monthly rather than quarterly. RTP projects don't typically appear on inactives. Want trails to get built and project sponsors want bills submitted to be reimbursed.

Union Pacific Historic Rail Trail - multi-use trail parallels I-80 (near Salt Lake City), one of the first rail trails. Good for cross country skiing in winter.

Overview of Antelope Island State Park.

Inactive obligations (23 CFR Section 630.106)

Inactive Project - a project for which no expenditures have been charged against Federal funds for specific periods of time. The following monetary thresholds and time periods apply:

Tier I - Projects inactive for the past 12 months with unexpended balances more than $500,000
Tier II - Projects inactive for the past 24 months with unexpended balances of $50,000 to $500,000
Tier III - Projects inactive for the past 36 months with unexpended balances of less than $50,000

Reasonable Justification for an Inactive Project - Defined as one of the following per the Inactive Project Workbook:

Bryan Alexander (GA) - if you aren't having any problems with inactive projects now, that could change. In Georgia, RTP projects are starting to show up on the inactive list. The projects aren't necessarily inactive, but billing just has not been going through. The FHWA division office was pressuring the State on inactive projects. The way to keep projects off of the inactive list is to do a small expenditure at beginning of project and then the project will never make it on any inactive list even if no further billing occurs for years. Christopher says "it works!".

Bob Richards (TN) - Tennessee has 3 year term contracts. Does everyone else have the same?

Responses - Some have 12 month contracts, others have 18 month, 2 years, etc... sponsors can file extension and usually they will be granted.

Brigit Brown (WI) - Historic Preservation and water regulations are starting to become a significant expense.

Old Funds - Funds from previous years can be used for cost overruns on newer, current projects. States can deobligate and reobligate.


Training Update

The next National Trails Symposium will be held April 14-17, 2013 east of Phoenix and Scottsdale, near Fountain Hills, Arizona. Go to http://www.americantrails.org/2013/ for more information.

American Trails is offering a Universal Trail Assessment Process Workshops.

This two-day workshop enables individuals to conduct accurate assessments of trails in their own community and to lead groups of untrained individuals in the completion of trail assessments. American Trails and Beneficial Designs, Inc., offer the Workshops throughout North America each year. UTAP provides objective, accurate information about the conditions on a trail or in outdoor environments. The assessment results can help trail users determine whether a trail meets their interests and abilities. Land managers can also use the information to identify areas where access may be limited and to determine whether a trail complies with the proposed accessibility guidelines, to develop programs to provide trail access information, and to assess trails for maintenance needs.

APBP has been hosting a series of webinars. Topics include enforcement, safety, and transportation. Some of the past webinars have been:

September 22, 2011- There is a webinar on the topic of economic benefits of trails called "Making the Case for Trails in Tight Economic Times." See: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/economics/Webinar-Economic-Benefits-Trails.html

More on economic benefits on American Trails website: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/economics/index.html

Pathways for Play / PlayCore has put together a new guideline book on how to make trails more playful. See: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/kids/Pathways-for-Play-Playcore.html

What are other States doing?

Sherry Winnie (VT)
Vermont allocated RTP funds to its State Advisory Committee (VT Trails & Greenways Council) to develop the Vermont Trail Ethic in a coordinated effort with the Vermont Trail Collaborative. The statewide trails community led a statewide public engagement process to learn what communities think is important for a trail ethic (and sent out surveys, synthesized all information collected, presented to the public, shared final draft with the Collaborative) & upon completion adopted a statewide trail ethic.

Please see:

Vermont is encouraging organizations to post this ethics statement on their own signs and kiosks.

Vermont will also be hosting a Vermont Trail Symposium. See: http://www.vermonttrailsandgreenways.org/our-programs/education/

D'Juan Hammonds (OH) - Collaboration with the Wayne National Forest and Hocking College to educate motorized trail safety. Hocking college has a annual course. RTP gives 10-15k per year to run this course.

Brigit Brown (WI) - Doing rock training and safety course. Topics include how to use proper techniques, rock shaping, rigging, etc. Using safety money to get rangers out patrolling trails by bicycle and teaching them how to enforce safety laws and rules. Also, sponsoring a study on the effects of trails on birds. This will be a 2 year study with the University of Wisconsin, Madison to study the environmental impacts of trails on bird habitats.

Bob Bronson (Indiana) - Their blueway and waterway group is teaching a safety course on canoe and kayak safety.

Bob Richards (TN) - Tennessee will be hosting a statewide Greenways and Trails forum. Chuck Flink, the original greenways guy, will be speaking. He is a very dynamic speaker. Has a great powerpoint. His company has recently merged with Alta Planning and is now Alta Greenways (http://www.altaplanning.com/alta+greenways.aspx).


Breakout Sessions

Trail Mapping: Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Google Trail Maps, State Trail Mapping, Trail User Group or Association Mapping.

How to integrate availability of information and put together a one-stop shopping tool for users and land managers. Using maps to track trail conditions and availability. Coordinating user feedback, State field staff, and maintenance crews. (Jim Radabaugh, Michigan)

Lot of questions about where trails are. Lack of maps.

Idea of a trail atlas to include all of the trails of west Michigan. Michigan got some corporate seed money through a grant for $15,000 plus $30,000 from Fred Meijer foundation. Working on an iPhone application. Submitted an application for the project to a Grand Rapids foundation. Expanding to three year $90,000 project to include all smart phones.

Atlas had 12 regional trail systems plus planned trails. Different points of interest plus services for trail users such as bicycle shops, campgrounds. Low-tech map is printed paper with approximate locations and a listing of all trails in the state. Trail tourism and featured areas on the back of the map. More trail info available on all activities on the website: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10365_16839---,00.html

Generating Support for Trails
Case studies and measures to increase stakeholder interest and stakeholder participation. (Jean Lacher, CA)

California has been recognizing trends in the trail community. These trends revolve around budget problems mainly. There is concern whether small local communities would continue to receive funding even with current RTP legislation.

In Sacramento there is concern about the Livability program and of the RTP getting cut.

There has been record attendance at recent State conferences because people want to know about how funding cuts will affect their programs, and how they can leverage other support or funding possibilities.

Presentation (Jean presents her Powerpoint)

Monon Trail - http://www.americantrails.org/resources/fedfund/Beightel-Transportation-Funding-Trails.html. This trail is an example of how a trail has increased the property value of homes along the trail. Real estate signs went up along the trail rather than road frontage when properties went up for sale. The sentiment was that trails contributed to enhancing the value of the property and that people coming in from surrounding communities to visit the trails would be interested in available properties along the recreation corridor.

Another anecdote from the State Trail Administrator from West Virginia - There was an older man who started needing to visit his doctor routinely due to deteriorating health conditions. The man was struggling financially and rode an old rusty bike to and from his doctor appointments on an RTP funded trail. After a few months the doctor was amazed by his improvement, and told him he didn't need to visit anymore. He determined that his condition improved because of his increase in physical activity riding a bike!

Another anecdote: Johnson Camp Trail Project 2005 Annual Achievement Award winner: Award Category: Multiple Use Management and Corridor Sharing (see http://www.americantrails.org/awards/CRT05awards/johnsoncamp.html)

The Johnson Camp Trail Improvement Project is located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California. The project removed two miles of steep, deeply eroded road, available only to hikers, and replaced it with five miles of new trail, on moderate grade, available for hikers and equestrians. Although not possible to meet accessibility standards, it is barrier free.

Who needs to hear about local trails?

  1. Local politicians
  2. Local Council of Governments (COG)
  3. Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO)
  4. County officials
    • Invite local officials to ribbon cuttings
    • Contact local news agencies to cover opening ceremony
    • Contact your Natural Resource Legislative liaison (when projects get awarded)

Alternative and Coordinated Funding Sources for Trails

Bob Richards (Tennessee)
Tennessee has three different sources of State and federal funds for trails. First is the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which offers 50% grant / 50% match for outdoor recreation (both nonmotorized and motorized).

Also, Tennessee has a State funded Local Park and Recreation Fund (LPRF). The LPRF comes from a very small portion of a Real Estate Recordation Tax that is applied to real estate transactions when a property sells. This generates about $3,700,000 annually and is targeted at cities and counties for the acquisition of land and the development of indoor or outdoor facilities, greenways, and trails. The property owner must be a willing seller for land acquisition. If land is acquired using grant funds, it must be developed for public access with three years. Please see http://www.tn.gov/environment/recreation/grants.shtml for more information about the Tennessee grant programs.

OHV / Motorized / Snowmobile Trails: Successes, Challenges, Requirements
(Bob Richards, Tennessee; Christine Jourdain, American Council of Snowmobile Associations)

Showed a video on Michigan's Silver Lake State Park: 2,000 acres of dunes on Lake Michigan shoreline, managed by the State. Big economic impact on local communities.

Snowmobiling - Christine Jourdain

Midwest - State programs are organized around trails, like rail trails
West - Trails typically lead from parking/staging areas to play areas in the mountains
Snowmobilers pay their own way: registration fees ($30 for 3 years), trail permits ($45 annually)

Michigan has reciprocity for vehicle registration, but everyone has to buy a trail permit. Some states are more. Vermont is $140. Ontario is highest at $190 for annual permit.

Grooming

Other issues and costs:


General Q&A / Stump the Fed / General Discussion
Topics include: Performance Measures Database, RTP Database, Administrative Issues, Session topics to consider for STAM 2012 (Measuring trail use, others...)

Recreational Trails Program database: FHWA had intended to request proposals for the project as a cooperative agreement, but because we're purchasing a 'service', we have to issue a contract. That created a problem because there was so much interest in the contract that it would not have been possible to review all the proposals. We will have to wait until next fiscal year. The proposal may have information about performance measures. As a result, there has not been any action by FHWA on RTP performance measures.

Administrative issues:

If you want to deobligate old funds, in the past, the only way to use those funds was on another project that had been obligated in the same time period if there was a cost overrun. A policy from 1989 was supposed to provide flexibility for States. However, under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), a lot of projects came in under budget, so it became necessary to figure out how to recoup those funds. FHWA is developing a policy revision to provide more flexibility to the States, consistent with Federal laws and regulations. This policy will allow deobligations to be used for any reobligation, as long as the reobligation takes place in the same fiscal year.

As long as you deobligate and then reobligate you can apply old funds to a new project. This tells you that you can close out projects without losing money. It gives you flexibility to fund new projects that are easy to go. Close out all your old projects.

Brigit: question on matching enhancements and RTP

Christopher - If it's a 100k enhancement project, then 80% enhancements could be matched by 20% from RTP. The RTP legislation says it can be used to match other federal funds. Under the Enhancements program, you have to keep a programmatic federal share above 80% for the entire state program. There is an exception in RTP because it post-dates the enhancements language. In the RTP guidance, it says under RTP share and matching requirements page 2 of 5, "if the RTP funds are the majority of the funds and the other fed program is a minority..." the question is whether those enhancements funds may require a match themselves?

But if two years later you have to come up with the cost, but the project costs have gone up 50%. So you are going to have to come up with the cost overruns for the same scope of project. Can you look at it that since the nonfederal match is going to be over 80%... so it depends.

Jean Lacher (CA) - if livability program becomes a reality how will that affect administration expenses?

Christopher - As proposed by USDOT, the Livability Program would include CMAQ, Enhancements, trails, etc. Motorized projects would not be eligible, and trails would have to be for transportation purposes. The Livability Program would eliminate the State resource agency role in managing FHWA funds. The State would still be under obligation for projects that have been awarded in the past. The RTP would lose its Headquarters administrative funds, and States would lose their administrative funds. No other Federal-aid highway program has administrative support (except Safe Routes to School supports a full-time coordinator). Enhancements also has no specific administrative funds; support comes from general State DOT highway funds.

Under a House proposal, Federal-aid highway program funding would be at $27 billion rather than $39 billion. All bike/ped projects and programs would be optional.

Question and Answer Session

Sherry Winnie (VT)

Sherry shared her experiences with legislative members during the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) award ceremony at the Rayburn House Office building in June 2011. She shared personal stories to her Congressman and described how she felt insignificant coming to DC, especially compared to devastation of the recent oil spills. She tried to relay about how she recognizes that the RTP program she administers is changing one life at a time, one trail at a time. Her Congressman told her to keep doing what she is doing, and that sharing these stories is important for him to hear.

Michigan: James Radabaugh discussed how 30-40% of local business is generated by trails in Rockford.

Generating support

Anamarie Bauer of Michigan discussed Project GO (Get Outdoors) which encourages year round involvement with trails and getting outdoors to participate and utilize available recreation areas. See: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10365_36576---,00.html


Stump the Fed / Q&A

Andrew (MN): What if you need additional funding for the same project - question for the Division office.

The Division office would only be overruled if someone very high up in the Agency made the decision, based on a legal issue.

Bryan Alexander - is FHWA making any preparation for offering guidance to States if RTP is actually eliminated?

Christopher - Current instructions are to assume that programs will continue, with extensions until legislation is enacted. A lot of interest groups are working in support of the programs that benefit bicycling and walking and trails. We are more optimistic about RTP surviving intact. Enhancements will probably have some modifications. There will be ways for States to mitigate road environmental impacts with funding.

Brigit Brown (WI) - Electric bicycle, is it a motorized vehicle?
The term "electric bicycle weighing under 100 pounds with a top motor powered speed of 20 mph..." is the maximum allowed on a federal-aid funded highway. From the viewpoint of weight and top speed, a Segway meets this definition, but a Segway is defined elsewhere as not a bicycle. This does not meet the actual condition of most electric bicycles.

Andrew (MN) - Segway question
A State may define a Segway as nonmotorized, but it doesn't override Federal law, and the Segway doesn't meet the Federal definition for nonmotorized. This definition needs to be changed because technology has changed.

Cannot use Recreational Trails funds to upgrade a trail to motorized use.

But legally-used ATVs or other motorized vehicles on a trail before 1991 are allowed to continue. Preexisting legal use must be accommodated if Federal-aid funds (such as TE funds) are used to improve the trail. If the use was illegal, you do not have to include them.

Updated: 02/12/2014
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