Dear Members of the CRT Council of Advisors:
The Recreational Trails Program needs your help -- right now!
As soon as this Tuesday, March 6th, there will be action in the U.S. Senate on the transportation bill, also known as MAP-21 or S. 1813. We need to make sure that the Klobuchar amendment -- Amendment #1661 -- to protect the RTP and its dedicated funding is part of the final bill.
Seven Senators from both parties have agreed to join Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to cosponsor the amendment: Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), James Risch (R-ID), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Mark Udall (D-CO). And we believe we have solid commitments of support from others.
That support is great news, but it’s not enough to ensure that the amendment is accepted. We need a clear majority of Senators pledged to supporting this amendment and willing to stand up for their trail-loving constituents, regardless of pressure from party leaders.
Please call or e-mail your Senators about the Klobuchar amendment. If one (or both -- congratulations, Colorado!) of your Senators is a sponsor, thank them for their support and ask for their active help with the amendment this week. If they have not yet agreed to support the amendment, ask for their pledge now. Tell them:
● Unless the bill is amended, MAP-21 will effectively eliminate the Recreational Trails Program and seriously damage, if not destroy, the balanced system of trails for all users that the RTP has allowed the states to develop and maintain over the last 20 years. The RTP leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support from other sources for trails, encourages productive cooperation among trail users, and facilitates healthy outdoor recreation and associated, badly needed economic activity in countless communities. Without the RTP, organized trail planning and development will simply vanish in many areas of the country.
● Right now, at an annual funding level of $85 million, the RTP receives less than 42% of the federal gas taxes paid every year by America’s nonhighway recreationists. Unless amended, MAP-21 will convert a legitimate user fee into an unfair tax, with recreationists subsidizing commercial and private highway users.
● The return of gas taxes to trail users through the RTP is in keeping with the user-pay, user-benefit philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund. Ending dedicated funding for RTP takes these gas taxes away from the people who pay them. Ending dedicated funding for RTP is bad public policy and just plain wrong.
Don’t let anyone tell you that another amendment has taken care of the RTP. That is not true. We will let you know if anything like that happens.
If you don’t know how to reach your Senator, go to www.senate.gov. In the upper right corner of the Web page, there will be a link to contact information.
Your previous help has already made a very big difference.
● Close to 400 national, regional, state and local organizations signed letters to every single Senator supporting the Klobuchar amendment. You made that happen!
● Seven members of the Senate – Democrats and Republicans – agreed to cosponsor the Klobuchar amendment. You made that happen!
● And in the House of Representatives, Rep. Steve King withdrew his amendment to eliminate the RTP from the House bill. You made that happen!
So now we ask for your help again. You know how important the RTP is to your state.
Make sure your Senators know too.
Thank you very much.
Marianne Wesley Fowler and Derrick A. Crandall
Co-Chairs, Coalition for Recreational Trails
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