Introductions / Show and Tell
States share experiences on local projects and trails issues.
Federal-aid Highway Program Reauthorization, Christopher Douwes
RTP Questions & Answers, Christopher Douwes
Overview of Workshops - Cheryl Surface and Jean Lacher
Proposed Outdoor Developed Areas Accessibility Guidelines, Karl Knapp, California State Parks.
See http://www.access-board.gov/outdoor/ for background information.
Public Use Timeframes on Trail Projects, Jean Lacher
RTP Q & A: Recreational Trails Program Questions and Answers Part 2, Christopher Douwes
Show-and-Tell Part 2, Suggestions for STAM 2008, STAM 2007 wrap-up
Dave Morrow from Nevada State Parks welcomed everyone to the Lake Tahoe area. He emphasized "nature deficit disorder." The National Association of State Park Directors and the National Park Service (NPS) have signed an agreement to work together to encourage more families to enjoy outdoor activities.
Patty Keating from California State Parks welcomed everyone. Since 1965 the State of California has administered over $3 billion in grants for outdoor recreation and open space. Voters have continued to support more parks through bond issues. A new bond (Prop 84) will provide over $500 million to local parks.
All attendees introduced themselves. Some had new projects to share with the group.
Show and Tell
Bob Richards (TN) has new publication "Pathways to Trail Building." Will also be available on website. Copies available from Robert.Richards@state.tn.us or (615) 532-0753.
Andrew Korsberg (MN) new book on trail design available: "Trail Planning, Design, and Development Guidelines." Available from www.minnesotasbookstore.com or (651) 297-3000.
Paul Wistrand (FHWA AK) has a new checklist for environmental issues. The Adobe Acrobat version includes check boxes and pull down menus to help applicants fill it out online. Note: Please see State Practices for this and other useful tools.
David Bartoo (DE) mentioned that the trails which were built at White Clay State Park during the 2005 STAM are very popular. People come from a two hour radius to ride the trails. There have been some crashes in the park over the last couple of years.
Mary Fitch (OH) invites everyone to Chicago to the MidAmerica Trails and Greenways (MATAG) conference in December. Eight States sponsor the regional trails conference.
Alex Weiss (FL) putting together an RTP website with interactive GPS connected to Trail Explorer website. Funding first county-sponsored OHV area.
Bryan Alexander (GA) told us that more people know about the RTP program but there is a lack of applicants for motorized funds. Georgia is doing large mailings to promote the program; 65 people attended the last RTP workshop.
Cheryl Surface (NV) discussed a wide variety of trail projects. The State purchased SWECO Traildozer for project sponsors to use and expects to purchase another. Projects are scored statewide and funded in order of scores until the money runs out.
Attending by telephone:
Bill Haas (CO FHWA)
Cheryl Malin and Pat Farr (NY FHWA)
There were other participants in the show-and-tell for which we do not have notes. Please feel free to contribute by contacting email@example.com.
Federal-aid Highway Program Reauthorization: Summary, Explanation, and Comments from Trails and Enhancements Related Conferences
Session Handouts: State Trail Administrators Meeting
September 18, 2007
Federal Highways is seeking Recommendations for Federal-aid Highway Program Reauthorization.
Do you have recommendations for:
Christopher requested any potential language or issues to be included in the next reauthorization. FHWA will be developing a proposal for the administration in the next few months. Regardless of which administration is in office, it will serve as a base for reauthorization of RTP and other programs.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) TrailLink conference turned out to be a promotion for its Smart Mobility Program idea. RTC is proposing to greatly expand the "Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program" for 40 locations by $50 million each (this means some States wouldn't get any funding from this program). There will be many proposals coming from other organizations. In general, the USDOT is likely to want to reduce the number of programs and maximize flexibility for the States. Questions: Where is the money going to come from? How will this affect the RTP?
Christopher will be working on issues with some State DOTs on rescissions. The Federal Highway Trust Fund is likely to run out of money in 2009. The revenue from fuel tax will not keep up with the expenditures. Mass Transit comes out of the Fund. More fuel-efficient vehicles mean less revenue. The earmarks (High Priority Projects) have come under fire as another way that transportation funds are spent outside the perceived need. About 10% of the High Priority Projects are pedestrian and bicycle and trail projects, but only two or three percent of the money.
Congress passes the laws that tell FHWA to rescind funds, which then gives notice to the State DOTs. States cannot take funds from the safety program, and must maintain the rural/urban balance for Surface Transportation Program funds, but they can rescind funds from anywhere else. As a result many States decided to take it from Transportation Enhancements (TE). In Ohio, funds came from the difference in the obligation vs. the appropriation, which they can't spend anyway. In theory, Rescissions are related to obligation limitation, which has been higher than the apportionment amounts for several years.
The FHWA Office of Human and Natural Environment has been reorganized and the Scenic Byways program has been moved to another office. Christopher now has 100% responsibility for Transportation Enhancements and is on a team with new Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager, Gabe Rousseau. As a result, new Guidance will not be coming out anytime soon.
Transferring money from other Federal programs has turned into a cumbersome process for some.
Bob Richards (TN) has trouble trying to find agencies to administer funds and getting funds for high priority projects transferred to the agency that can manage project.
The official position of the USDOT is that earmarks are not the right way to get funds for priority projects. Projects should be proposed through normal statewide and metropolitan transportation planning and programming processes.
This section includes discussion from Thursday's Q & A discussion.
Susan Moerschel (DE) asked if environmental mitigation projects could use funding from existing sources (e.g. sport fishing fund). Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds may be used for environmental mitigation to reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality while maintaining habitat connectivity. Sherry Winnie (VT) mentioned an eroded area where the Fish & Wildlife agency says RTP funds should be used. She should also ask if it would be eligible for TE funds. TE managers agree that fish passages should be allowed for TE funding.
OHV program managers and snowmobile program managers had similar comments: agreement that education should be increased from 5% to 7%. They feel that OHV funds should be increased. Some States believe that States should not have the option of a diffferent match rate (e.g. some States are 50/50) and all should be required to have 80/20 share. Other States believe higher match requirement is great way to leverage funds and get more projects done. E.g. Florida gives more points on criteria for higher match.
If your State sets a specific cap that is very low (e.g. $20,000), then you can't do land acquisition. Indiana and Missouri used abandoned mines for new OHV riding areas. The existing system allows States to save up funds from several years to acquire and develop land for larger riding areas.
Rocky (OR) asked that the RTP be exempt from the statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes. All States agree. In the previous reauthorization, this issue was shot down in House of Representatives even though FHWA was in full support. If States want to see this changed, trail supporters need to tell their Members of Congress. CA notes that the planning process can help get CMAQ and TE funds applied to trails. It may encourage some MPOs to recognize need for funding trails. Michelle (OR) has been amending STIPs and TIPs to include trails.
Christopher says that transportation funds don't eliminate recreation, and Recreation funds can be applied to a project that includes transportation.
Bob (TN) has gone to a two year grant cycle instead of annually. The State DOT wants to include Section 206(d)(2) with A through E, but not (F). Maximum grant of $20,000 and encouraging counties to look at regional trail planning.
Should general trail planning be eligible for funding? For statewide planning, States can use their State RTP administrative funds. Only three States said that the RTP funds should be used for general trail planning, assuming current funding levels.
Trail feasibility studies should be distinguished from general planning. Project engineering, NEPA, and other pre-construction design are currently eligible.
Sherry (VT) says one problem is that each project still has to do its own local planning, and more RTP funds spent on general planning means less for projects. Susan (DE) says that statewide planning is also very general and should be more specific and applied to county level. Alex (FL) sees no return for funds if plans are funded and not built. What about SCORP planning?
Paul (AK FHWA) discussed TE funding for a conservation organization which acquires land at less than fair market value. If a municipality acquired property on its own, would it have to go back and pay fair market value to the original landowner? Christopher said this is covered in the Code of Federal Regulations for right of way under 23 CFR 710.511. Although it is titled "Transportation Enhancements", it addresses this issue for all similar projects, including RTP projects. It needs to be amended to make it general for the entire Federal-aid program. The Enhancements law allows "qualified conservation organization" that is not a unit of government to acquire property. However: do not use the value of land obtained through eminent domain to match RTP project funds.
Bryan (GA) has difficulty with using the motorized percentage. NE agrees that a large percentage of private land in the State makes it hard to fund OHV projects. IA has six developed State OHV parks. The State DNR has multiple agreements with local communities and the IA DOT as well as with OHV user groups to fund and manage parks. The Motorized community feels strongly that if you can't use the money, you should lose it. Funds that lapse disappear as if they never existed.
Question on water trails: can you use RTP funds for motorized boat trails? The Wallop Breaux Fund has about $350 million a year (http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/) for these kinds of projects. Your State has a right to use RTP, however, but can not be required to do so.
No State has used the LWCF to match funds for motorized projects. You can use LWCF funds to purchase land for OHV recreation. FHWA convinced National Park Service that any other Federal program funds including LWCF can be used to match RTP funds. There has been some difficulty in getting local officials to understand this. The RTP legislation is the newer than the LWCF regulation; therefore the RTP legislation supersedes the LWCF regulation. See Section 206(f)(3) and RTP program guidance. If your trail project is eligible for LWCF, you can apply for those funds and use RTP for the match.
Mary Fitch (OH) said motorized recreation means any motor powered vehicle--what about Segways? This has been one of the more difficult issues that FHWA is facing. Call it an "electric personal mobility device". From the RTP standpoint, the Segway is a motor vehicle. If you use TE funds you must prohibit electric personal mobility devices. See Section 217(h) which does not account for RTP, but does for the other Federal aid programs.
What about RTP motorized funds for trails that were formerly nonmotorized? RTP legislation states that you can't turn nonmotorized trails into motorized. This provision doesn't apply to new facilities. How should we address these issues?
FHWA is developing a process to permit exemptions for motorized use on otherwise nonmotorized trails under 23 U.S.C. 217, but this does not affect the RTP.
Some agree that this should be addressed at the local level and not made a Federal requirement. Susan (DE) said areas are periodically reviewed for what kinds of facilities should be there. What about shifts in demand or new opportunities? It could also be a switch from motorized to nonmotorized. Mary (OH) suggested that states should document decisions and discussions among local stakeholders as part of the planning process.
What about motorized funds for enforcement? For example, we provide funding for highways, but not for the State troopers who patrol the highways. At the National Scenic and Historic Trails (NHST) conference, one person asked for funds for law enforcement to protect natural and cultural (especially Native American) resources. Colorado uses funds working with local user groups, on-the-trail contacts, project management etc., but doesn't call it "enforcement."
Show of hands: three support using funds for motorized law enforcement. A few support programs like bicycle patrols. Another suggestion is to fund equipment but not personnel. Some said the RTP is a small program, while law enforcement is a very large need and most don't support opening it up to a whole new area.
WY and OR are using State OHV funds for law enforcement but not RTP funds. Some are doing partnerships in local communities to better enforce a variety of motorized activities. Darryl (NC) asked for an exemption for matching requirements for motorized projects. Under the current RTP you can use a programmatic non-Federal share.
Andrew (MN) asked about the current RTP 40-30-30 funding split. Some groups, especially snowmobilers, suggest making it 50% motorized. NY says that snowmobilers currently get more funding than any other user group already. The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) has maintained that this percentage should not be touched because of the huge potential for controversy.
Rocky (OR) asked about permissible uses related to the trail tread and trail corridor. Who will provide specific language?
Pam Gluck (American Trails) asked about the possibility of increasing education funds from 5 to 7 percent. She wanted to know if the group feels strongly about that. CRT has not expressed a strong opinion from national trail groups on this issue. The States always have the option of using less than the authorized maximum. Pam wants to encourage States to recommend an increase in education funds, perhaps to a level of up to 10%.
A show of hands indicated there is not a consensus on this, although a majority favored increasing the maximum amount.
Stay at 5% maximum: 10
Education funds count within the 40-30-30. Education projects should be counted within each category.
State Recreational Trail Advisory Committees
One State had asked if a State could change the scope of an RTP project that the advisory committee rejected. It depends on your State procedures. Under Federal law, the advisory committee is advisory only. States may give additional authority to the committes at State discretion.
Educational funds and Adminstrative funds
Stuart and Alex will query States on how they are using educational funds and report back to States.
Christopher recommends that States obligate administrative funds as soon after October 1st as possible. Funds are apportioned as soon as possible after October 1 every year. Limited obligation authority usually is available immediately. When does the obligation limitation get released? Some States don't tell you how much you have available until March or May. Ask your FHWA person what your obligation limitation is, even though it changes during the year.
Follow-up from after the meeting:
Q: Is a rescission amount automatically calculated in each year's RTP apportionment? Do State's RTP apportionment amounts equal the appropriation minus rescission?
A: We need to distinguish between appropriations, apportionments, and allocations. See the definitions at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/funding/rescissions/.
We post both the original apportionments and the apportionments after rescissions at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/funding/rescissions/. We will update that table with FY 2007 after the end of the fiscal year, and/or after we know the final FY 2007 rescission amounts (which still have not been announced [October 17]). The FY 2007 apportionments (including the March rescission, but not July) are at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/funding/apportionments_obligations/recfunds_2007.cfm).
The amount available in the FHWA Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS) for a specific State's RTP apportionment will be the amount after the rescission.
For example, for FY 2007, Delaware's initial apportionment was $797,503. However, assuming DelDOT took a rescission in July, the amount available in FMIS will be the FY 2007 initial apportionment after subtracting the July rescission. Those figures have not been made public yet, but both DelDOT and the FHWA Division should have those numbers for Delaware. See: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/funding/apportionments_obligations/recfunds_2007.cfm
Panel: Pam Gluck, Stuart Macdonald, Kim Frederick
Introduction (Stuart Macdonald)
Why are we talking so much about training? Are we obsessed with training? "You should be," commented Christopher.
Kim Frederick - Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI)
A merger with the former Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado resulted in the new Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI).
OSI's goal is to enhance Colorado's public and protected lands by providing conservation leadership and land stewardship skills training. Their educational workshops teach participants the critical leadership and technical skills needed to successfully lead and participate in trails and conservation projects.
See the web-based volunteer management site (Voutdoors.org) which enables organizations, agencies, and volunteers to connect. This year, OSI has conducted more than 40 training sessions. For details on the OSI mission and the merger, see http://www.americantrails.org/nttp/OSImerge.html and the official COTI/OSI website at http://www.cotionline.org/.
Several States have taken advantage of the partnership between COTI and American Trails to offer the course locally. OSI is currently developing additional courses on other trail-related topics. Topics include: crew leadership, stewardship skills, trail design, project management, and non-native plant management.
Workshops are modular so they are easily adaptable to specific State needs. OSI will work closely with partners and local experts to develop curricula.
* Since 2004, OSI has held over 100 trainings which have included more than 1000 participants.
* Offers training of trainers to help exponentially increase knowledge growth.
States can hire OSI to hold customized workshops in their State using RTP education dollars.
OSI's Trail Crew Leadership course was developed to grow a larger pool of skilled volunteers for basic trail construction and maintenance.
Weed Management: a one-day training for volunteers and staff to include weed identification, history of introductions, weed ecology, and treatment options.
Trail Maintenance Skills Workshop: a menu of skill-based trainings (one day or half day) focusing on trail maintenance topics from tread maintenance to corridor maintenance to water diversion structure maintenance.
Project Management: a two-day workshop to learn to interface with land management agencies to plan, implement, and accomplish specific conservation projects.
Sustainable Mountain Trails: Assessment, Planning & Design: a two-three day introductory course on successful tools and techniques to assess, plan, design, and implement sustainable high-use multiple-use mountain trails.
General Stewardship Skills
OSI partners with all of the Federal agencies to help train their staff and seasonal employees. Agencies are increasingly comfortable with OSI's ability to provide skilled volunteers. This helps develop a statewide culture of sharing information and training, as well as creating more effective partnerships.
Pam Gluck, American Trails
The National Trails Training Partnership (NTTP), available at www.trailstraining.org, is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, professional contractors, and providers of products and services. NTTP offers an extensive online calendar of training, access hundreds of trail-related resources, news, and other local training resources.
Elvin Clapp (BLM) reported that they have had a good response to the survey of skills for National Scenic and Historic Trails. American Trails will make the results available to the States.
The National Trails Symposium will be held in 2008 in Little Rock AR and in 2010 in Chattanooga TN.
The American Trails website at www.americantrails.org/ is continuing to grow with resources on every aspect of trails and greenways. We are eager to include your new events, publications, news, and articles.
The goal of American Trails is to provide resources and workshops to the States to make more training opportunities available to project sponsors, volunteer groups, and agency partners. Several workshops are available:
Alex Weiss (FL) discussed Florida's accessibility (UTAP) and trailbuilding workshops. Attendees share their expertise and enthusiasm with others. Florida is training land managers and showing them how accessibility can be improved through good design and management. They are using RTP funds for the training. Florida is a good example of a successful partnership between American Trails training and State agencies.
Stuart Macdonald, American Trails
Training should be thought of as an investment. What kind of money is available for training? Kim Frederick showed a spreadsheet that explains typical State resources available for annual training and explains the return on investment (ROI). The average available for training per State through the RTP is $70,000 per year.
A cost benefit analysis outlines the results of investment if half of the available State education funds are spent on OSI-style training. What are the benefits? Costs outlined are local costs, additional costs depending on location, and facilities. In many situations, facilities can be donated as match. For $35,000 annually, you get 170 trained crew and leaders. The aggregate value and benefit equal much more than the cost.
Nevada has successfully trained 500 on the ground Americorps volunteers using RTP education funds.
Laurie Giannotti (CT): Can someone talk about the results of training? Is any tracking being done? How well are the trained people behaving?
Response from Kathy (KS): Trained crew and volunteers have provided over 50,000 hours worth of trail work.
Kim Frederick: The goal of training is to increase the quality of volunteers. Growth occurs over time.
Cheryl (NV) said that more dollars are now being spent on building new trails rather than maintaining older trails which were of poorer quality. This is proof of the concept that trails designed by better trained professionals mean dollars are better spent.
Karl Knapp: We need to have a good mentoring program. Commitment doesn't stop at training. We need to mentor and continue to follow up with residual training and support.
David Bartoo, DE: Sometimes it takes many months of actual on the ground experience with mentoring to get quality work.
Bill Robinson (WV): How are you keeping track of participants and what their training experience was so land managers know what resources can be tapped into? What are the qualifications of individuals and how do you get in touch with them?
Kim Frederick: Criteria standards are developed by experience and documented.
Susan Moerschel (DE): What's the difference between adopt-a-trail and a steward / host program?
*Adopt a trail: Usually an organization that is trained on how to work with a specific section of trail whether it be actual trail work or monitoring, will be responsible for their adopted section.
* Trail steward: Individual acts as a trail steward, or an "ambassador" for the trail and generates additional support for the trail.
Cheryl Surface (NV): Nevada has successfully used COTI training. They followed the COTI book the first year. Over the course of the next year, they developed a course curriculum internally to work specifically with State issues. They still pick and choose lessons from COTI modules. All new crew leaders attend. They have over 100 participants per year.
Kathy Pritchett (KS): Kansas is still evolving with a trail system. Park managers wear so many hats that it's hard for them to become an expert at trail design and construction.
Bryan Alexander (GA): The State of Georgia has a Trail School and Crew Leader Training Courses hosted at Gainesville State College. The executive director of the college helped organize the program to get a grant to fund a full-time position to teach a 4-day course 4 times a year. The course focuses on crew leadership, trail design, construction and maintenance. This is not a certification course. The instructor is funded with RTP education funds.
Training covers all types of trails. Tuition costs $100 per person. Sometimes exceptions are made. State park managers can take the course for free. There's a whole web page available on American Trails. See: http://www.americantrails.org/nttp/GAtrailsnttp.html
There has been no survey to date on how people are spending their State RTP education funds. American Trails will do a survey this year and will follow up with some ideas on how to apply training with your State.
Cheryl Surface (NV)
Tahoe Rim Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail has been developing for more than 20 years in design, layout, construction. The trail is complete, but they are realizing some deficiencies and are working on reroutes and maintenance. A committee advises the director on the future of the trail.
Another primary focus in this stage of development is building connector trails and performing corridor alignment. Nevada is funding a NEPA process for a proposed "Rim to Reno" trail.
The Tahoe Rim Trail is all on public land partly because private property in the Tahoe region is very expensive.
Additional Training Opportunities
The full PDF presentation is available at the California Recreational Trails Program website by following the link to the RTP overview under the Maximum and Minimum Grant Request section.
The Access Board has proposed an adminstrative rewrite and changes to the Report from the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas document that has been used for several years. There is a updated version available on the Access Board website. Review and comments are strongly encouraged. Background information, the Guidelines, and Comment Form can be found:
The original Outdoor Developed Areas report applied to shared use paths (transportation trails), but not to trails designated predominately for other uses (for example, mountain biking). It now states that multiuse trails should be made accessible. In California there are concerns about user conflict. The new document eliminated the change in grade from 8% to 10% and rewrote the exceptions as well. California has used the original guidelines to build many miles of trails.
The Forest Service (USFS) has made extensive comments because its guidelines differ significantly from the current Access Board proposal. They give a good definition of trailheads and staging areas. This is an important aspect of making the trails more accessible. However USFS uses trail classifications as a category for an exception. If you can make a trail accessible in Wilderness, should you keep wheelchairs out because of the management class?
Karl Knapp of California State Parks explained if you build any trail to the highest level of sustainability, with cultural and resource protection in mind, then you will meet the accessibility guidelines for trails. Both the State of California and USFS have been sued over accessibility. The USFS evaluated each park within the regions to see how many miles of trails should be improved. A lot of initial surveys brought too many trails into the transitional process. Accessible trail costs are running from $100,000 to $400,000 a mile.
California is using a rating criteria for grants with full points for designs with full access guidelines. Not all trails will meet accessibility and some will opt out through exceptions. If you identify why your trail can't meet guidelines, it still gets most of the points. The application process [See: Procedural Guide] gets applicants to consider access and to learn about it. The process tells project sponsors they need to understand accessibility and address it. California is also doing regional training for grant applicants that includes a focus on accessibility.
What can States do to avoid legal problems?
Involve people with disabilities, advocates for accessibility, and wheelchair users who are trail users. Get them out on trails and involve them in accessibility assessments. Communicate with the public and with people with disabilities about your efforts. Some States are doing assessments of their entire park systems.
Alabama has information on accessibility. Tennessee has a website to try to help people understand accessibility.
Christopher Douwes: The current Access Board proposal is under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), not the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ABA Guidelines will be standards for projects constructed or altered by a Federal agency or on Federal land. These guidelines won't directly affect your State parks right now. If these become Federal law, whatever the Access Board puts out, even as a recommendation, it will be the "best available knowledge." You should have been using the Outdoor Developed Areas Guidelines. The Memorandum of Understanding on the FHWA website says "should" not "shall". It sends people to the original 1999 guidelines.
It is worth taking time to comment on the Access Board proposal. Stuart will gather most important points and concerns to comment on. He will provide comments to Access Board on behalf of National Association of State Trail Administrators, which he represented on original Access Board Committee.
Bryan Alexander (GA)
Bryan is concerned about the vision of trails that are accessible or not. He understands that the Access Board suggests that all trails must be accessible at some level. Obstacle free? What is acceptable? What should the minimum standard be? Design standards should be established so trails can be developed that allow access.
Standards should be developed so the public can have a reasonable expectation of conditions when they go out to a trail or facility. If you don't develop or adopt standards then you are leaving it up to the trail designer. The worst case scenario is that through a lawsuit; standards get "recommended."
Technically, until new standards are enacted, every trail that is built should follow ADA building standards, but that is not feasible. That is why these trail standards are being developed.
What can we do as State people to be proactive? These guidelines don't directly impact the States necessarily, but in the future they may. It makes sense to be proactive, comment, and participate prior to establishment so the guidelines fit our needs in the future.
What are we doing to let the public know about accessibility of trails? Are some plans or priorities being put in place to develop accessible trails whether they are built or planned? The more you can document what is being done the better.
There is a need to educate the people who are applying for funds. Are there other things that can help applicants learn about accessibility; other than the Access Board Guidelines?
There needs to be an evaluation of all trails for accessibility so a situation doesn't arise where a user takes you to court and you haven't at least evaluated the trail.
Backcountry trails may have design constraints that cannot be made accessible.
The California Training Center can make California accessibility standards available.
Alex Weiss, Florida
Said that you can have a 36" designed accessible trail width but only have 18" trail tread. The outside section can be accessible and usable without the visual impact.
Introduction by Jean Lacher
What should States consider?
Jean Lacher, California State Parks, gave a short presentation on the topic of Public Use Timeframes on Trail Projects. Jean moderated the following discussion:
Melissa Cook (WI): What if the person who holds the title wants to shift uses? For some projects, 20 years is not enough, but it might be enough for others; it depends on the size of the investment.
Jean CA: Must adhere to State and Federal laws. A sponsor can't change the use before the time period ends.
FHWA Note (Christopher): The Recreational Trails Program legislation is at 23 U.S.C. 206(h)(4):
Cheryl NV: Incline Village NV built a nonprofit office on property funded under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF protects land for outdoor recreational use in perpetuity. The project sponsor was required to provide in kind property or payback.
Christopher FHWA: The Recreational Trails Program allows States to treat RTP funds in the same manner as Land and Water Conservation Program funds under 23 U.S.C. 206(h)(3):
CONTINUING RECREATIONAL USE.--At the option of each State, funds apportioned to the State to carry out this section may be treated as Land and Water Conservation Fund apportionments for the purposes of section 6(f)(3) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (16 U.S.C. 460l-8(f)(3)).
The National Park Service (NPS) informed FHWA that NPS would not administer applications from States for RTP projects to be protected under Section 6(f)(3) unless the States (or FHWA) paid administrative expenses. FHWA does not have legal authority to administer any part of the LWCF program. FHWA has no intention of paying NPS. But States can have their own equivalent of 6(f) under State law, regulation, or policy.
Michele Scalise (OR): How do we check?
Alex FL: Inspects every 5 years.
Richard RI: The State may need to set up an inspection program.
Sherry VT: Locate RTP projects on property already protected by LWCF.
Bob TN: Tennessee requires RTP projects to be protected in perpetuity, but sometimes it finds out about conversions through self inspections.
Some attendees recommended having a self-certification process.
Alex FL: Florida sends out a reminder to grantees every 2 years because of staff turnover, whether at the State, the municipality, or the project sponsor.
Bryan GA: Georgia has plenty of situations where conversions happen on LWCF properties. But conversions get political with people insisting on conversions. He is concerned there is no Federal protection.
Rocky OR: Oregon uses the "shame and blame" model. If people want to convert LWCF or RTP-protected land, the State asks: "Do you ever want a grant again in the future from any of the State or Federal programs administered through the State?".
Michele OR: The issue for Oregon is that some agencies don't have historical knowledge of the grant because of staff turnover. Should we require a deed restriction? Jean CA: California concurred that this is an important issue.
Christopher FHWA: Who has deed restrictions? DE, FL (all projects, through administrative code), TN (all projects), CT (most projects).
Alex FL: In Florida, the applicant must submit a deed restriction through county courthouse.
Jean CA: Should there be differentiation by the types or sizes of projects? In general, should this be a decision for the States (a States rights issue)?
Melissa WI: Would the political climate in your State allow an ability to have a policy or regulation? It might help to have a Federal law to provide support.
Bob NY: We need to look at the size of the grant: it depends on the project. New York created a directory of important recreation areas and posted it on the Internet to allow the public to be the "watchdogs" to make sure public recreation areas remained in public recreational use.
Laurie CT: Connecticut has a trails database showing all RTP projects. The intention is to be a live map on a website to be put into the project review process, so towns need to make sure they protect recreation projects. Connecticut has a State Conservation and Development Plan, and the database helps towns and wetland commissions to implement this plan. It is part of the State's outreach and education to towns and wetland commissioners.
Bob NY: We need to develop means to protect land.
Bill WV: If the grant is small, the timeframe perhaps should be small. For example, most of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is on licensed land that would be unavailable for public recreation if there were permanent or long term easements. Make sure public receives the value of the public investment. Require some payback for the value of a project not used.
Jean CA said the RTP is about recreational opportunities. We need flexibility.
Cheryl NV: States should determine the value themselves. The project agreement should have a project maintenance agreement. Same with equipment purchase.
In general discussion about equipment use: The Manufacturers' suggested lifetime for a project would be a good guideline. If the expected life of the equipment is X years, then the grantee must maintain the equipment for the X period of time. Put this in the project agreement. However, allow some flexibility. For example, a snow grooming machine might still be almost as good as new if there are a few years with little or no snow and little use.
Sherry VT: Vermont gives extra points in grant application for applicants who provide a maintenance plan.
Steve IA: The State must use payback to put into a new RTP-eligible project. For property must pay the assessed value (23 U.S.C. 156).
Bill WV: The Hatfield McCoy Trail System licenses land rights over private land. When a mining company needed land back, FHWA's Division office imagined the equivalent of removing a highway, but in reality it was only a small investment to cut through a narrow trail. Hatfield McCoy was able to recoup the investment. Make sure the public gets its money's worth.
Bill also mentioned that an organization with a second legal easement prevented a Transportation Enhancement project from taking place.
Paul MA: We need a payback provision based on the size, value, and impact of the project. Massachusetts also is requiring protection on snowmobile equipment investment.
Mary OH: Noted the Federal regulation on equipment sets a threshold at $5,000. See 49 CFR 18.32(e).
Steve IA: You may need an appraisal for equipment.
In further general discussion [no specific notes]:
Consensus: The policies for timeframe for public use should be left up to the States. States should use their State Recreational Trail Advisory Committee to develop State policies.
ACTION: Bob Richards TN will coordinate information gathering on various State policies. FHWA will post the results under State Practices.
American Trails built and hosts an online Forum for the State Trail Administrators. All administrators are encouraged to register and use the forums to solicit information and to help others with questions by providing feedback and answers. We hope the forums become active with users and it becomes a place to share stories and best practices.
To register, go to: http://atfiles.org/sta_forum/ and select the Register link. Once you've activated your registration you can start posting right away.
Manuals and Guides for Trail Design, Construction, Maintenance, and Operation, and for Signs
Recreational Trails Program Database
Designed, developed, and maintained by the Coalition for Recreational Trails. FHWA supports the effort with planning, some minor technical support, and financially.
Most States should have received a solicitation for information. If there are any questions; in addition to contacting CRT you may also contact Christopher Douwes or Jonathan LeClere.
Next STAM at National Trails Symposium
Q: Do we meet Thursday through Saturday afternoon (Nov 13-15) or Nov. 19-20 after the 2008 National Trails Symposium?
A: Everyone wants STAM 2008 to meet before the 2008 Symposium. Agreement on three days, November 13, 14, 15: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
American Trails will be the host. We need your input in what you want for the meeting. Jean (CA) and Cheryl (NV) provided evaluation forms for the attendees. We should have an idea of what the Congress and the new Administration looks like then in the run-up to reauthorization.
Gainesville, Florida proposal to host STAM July 7-8, 2009.
The Florida Office of Greenways and Trails manages eight statewide trails, e.g. Okeechobee Lake trail and water trails, and Cross Florida Greenway which includes the TE-funded land bridge over the Interstate. There are active nonprofit groups working on OHV trails. The State is developing partnerships with counties to provide motorized recreation with RTP funds. Florida will provide field trips to UTAP and accessible trail work. This will be a good opportunity for education on equestrian issues. The area is home to many equestrian trails and Gainesville will host Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference July 2009. IMBA will also show off mountain bike trails including new technical riding areas.
We thanked Cheryl and Jean and their staff with Nevada and California State Parks for hosting the meetings and for the great mobile workshops. American Trails and Pam Gluck helped with the planning, logistics, and funding.