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    FY19 Trail Funding Letter

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    May 25, 2018
    ** Please CLICK HERE for a PDF of this letter that you can send to Senator Merkley**

    Suggested note to Senator Merkley's Office, staffer: Becca Ward rebecca_ward@merkley.senate.gov  (or your contact if you have one)

    Request: "As a Oregon trail organization, I ask that Senator Merkley provide full funding for trails in the FY19 Interior Appropriations bill. Please see the attached letter on behalf of 175 organizations detailing the funding request."
     

    May 18, 2018


    Dear Chairpersons and Ranking Members:

    This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the National Trails System, created by Congress as a dynamic experiment in citizen-based public/private trail-building for public benefit. The experiment worked -- in every state, from local bicycle/pedestrian trails connecting neighborhoods to long-distance paths leading through some of America's most remote and scenic landscapes and historic places. Americans have walked, hiked, snowshoed, and cross-country skied these trails. They have ridden their horses and bikes down these trails and have accessed their hunting, fishing, and camping sites. Since 1995, tens of thousands of citizen volunteers have contributed more than 18 million hours to build and maintain these trails, and nonprofit trail organizations over $186 million toward building and maintaining trails, a total value of $538 million.1 Outdoor recreation on National Forest lands alone contributes more than $13 billion dollars to the national economy and supports over 205,000 jobs annually.2 National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Monuments and other public lands and waters account for $50 billion in economic output and 426,000 jobs nationwide.3

    While we applaud Congress for preserving trail funding in FY18, it is exceedingly unfortunate that the Administration’s 2019 budget fails to provide for even the most basic necessities to maintain and manage these critical recreation resources, putting the past 50 years of partnership and hard work in jeopardy. Trails are the gateway to nearly every facet of outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, camping, and more. A failure to maintain and manage our nation’s trails stymies economic growth and access to healthy outdoor recreation.

    Broadly, the Administration’s budget would:
    ● Undo decades of work by agencies, volunteers, and nonprofit organizations;
    ● Fail to leverage the millions of dollars donated by state and local governments and nonprofit trail organizations as well as volunteer labor each year; and
    ● Threaten the livelihoods of the 7.6 million Americans whose jobs depend directly on the outdoor recreational activities that take place on trails.4

    We, the undersigned, urge you to adopt the following funding requests so the federal government can continue to benefit from private contributions and volunteer labor as well as provide inexpensive, healthy outdoor recreation options for your constituents:

    Forest Service
    In 2016, Congress passed what was termed “the most bipartisan bill in Congress” -- the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act -- to reduce the maintenance backlog on 156,000 miles of trails in the National Forests. Unfortunately, the Administration’s 2019 budget cuts fly in the face of Congressional intent.

    Action:
    ● Fund Capital Improvement and Maintenance, Trails budget at $100M to address trail maintenance backlog and implementation of National Forest System Trail Stewardship Act (increase of $20M from FY18 and of $87.93M from the FY19 proposed budget);
    ● Fund Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness at $261M (increase of $3.2M above FY18 and of $20.76M from the FY19 proposed budget); and
    ● Maintain funding for the Legacy Roads & Trails program to at least $40M (FY18 enacted; an increase of $40M from the FY19 proposed budget).

    National Park Service
    The National Park Service not only maintains trails within park units such as Yellowstone and Acadia National Parks, but also has administrative responsibility for 23 National Scenic and Historic Trails. Last year 331 million people visited a national park unit, and trails were integral to these visits.5

    Action:
    ● Park Service Operations for the National Trails System must be maintained at a minimum of $16.5M (an increase of $4.735M from the FY19 proposed budget);
    ● Maintain funding for the Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program at $10.033M (FY18 enacted; an increase of $0.9M from the FY19 proposed budget);
    ● Restore the Challenge Cost Share program, funding at $1.5M, to leverage private donations for public benefit (Administration proposed elimination in FY19 budget);
    ● Restore funding for Volunteers in Parks programs to leverage private donations for public benefit, funding at $8M (proposed $4M cut in FY19 budget);
    ● Fund Visitor Services subactivity, Youth Partnership Programs, at $10.95M (proposed $5.15M cut in FY19 budget)

    Bureau of Land Management
    According to the Bureau of Land Management, as previously stated, the proposed 29% cut to its National Conservation Lands would “affect visitor services, including maintenance and care of trails and trailheads, grounds maintenance, campground access, river and trail access and interpretive resources.”6

    Action:
    ● Fund National Conservation Lands, to enhance recreational access, conserve the Nation’s heritage and manage these nationally recognized resources at $75M (an increase of $48.7M from the FY19 proposed budget);
    ● Fund National Conservation Lands- National Scenic Historic Trails, subactivity Recreation Resources Management, which preserves, provides public access to, and allows for the enjoyment of these trails, at $9.8M (an increase of $5.7M from the FY19 proposed budget); and
    ● Increase Challenge Cost Share program funding, which leverages private donations for public benefit to $3M (increase of $2M from FY19 budget)

    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    Proposed cuts in Refuge Visitor Services would negatively affect environmental education and birding programs and hours of operation for some visitor centers.

    Action:
    ● Fund Refuge Visitor Services at $73.2M (increase of $0.1M from FY18 enacted levels; an increase of $1.94M from FY19 proposed budget)

    Land & Water Conservation Fund
    With the proposed elimination of funding in the FY19 budget, the LWCF would be unable to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. In this 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System, the cuts would prevent congressionally designated trails from advancing towards completion. We ask that, as Congress did in FY18 funding, it reject these proposed cuts and restore funding for the LWCF.

    The proposed funding cuts demonstrate a breach of faith with the public, which was promised that in exchange for the depletion of one public resource (offshore energy), they would be provided access to outdoor recreation:
    NPS – 102% cut from FY18; no funding for federal land acquisition or recreational access
    BLM – 126% cut from FY18; no funding for land acquisitions or recreation access
    FWS – 87% cut from FY18; no funding for land recreation access
    USFS – 126% cut from FY18; no funding for land acquisitions, Forest Legacy easements to protect working forests, or recreation access

    Action:
    ● At a minimum, fund LWCF at the $450M level so that the projects of highest importance can be completed for public benefit; and
    ● Include within this appropriation $54.8M for National Scenic and Historic Trails projects
    o Many of the projects offer a unique opportunity to acquire lands that will help protect trails or close existing gaps between sections of these Congressionally-designated trails; and
    o Once land is acquired, volunteers and private funding stand ready to build/maintain the trails.
    ● As you are aware, the LWCF program expires on September 30, 2018. We ask that you permanently reauthorize the program.

    We look forward to working with Congress to fulfill these requests to protect, preserve, and maintain trails. For additional information please contact Tyler Ray, American Hiking Society, tray@americanhiking.org. Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trails System, gary@pnts.org, Randy Rasmussen , Back Country Horsemen of America, WildernessAdvisor@bcha.org, or Mike Passo, American Trails, mikepasso@americantrails.org.

    Sincerely,

    40 Mile Loop Land Trust, Portland, Oregon
    Accessible Trails Foundation
    AccessWorks, Inc.
    The Acorn Group
    Ala Kahakai Trail Association
    Alaska State Parks
    Alaska Trails
    Almanor Recreation and Park District
    American Discovery Trail Society
    American Endurance Ride Conference
    American Hiking Society
    American Trails
    Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
    Arizona Trail Association
    Back Country Horsemen of America
    Back Country Horsemen of California
    Back Country Horsemen of California, High Sierra Unit
    Back Country Horsemen of California, Mother Lode Unit
    Back Country Horsemen of Colorado, Front Range Chapter
    Back Country Horsemen of Iowa
    Back Country Horsemen of Oregon
    Back Country Horsemen of Southwest Virginia
    Back Country Horsemen of the Virginia Highlands
    Back Country Horsemen of Virginia, Golden Horseshoe Chapter
    Back Country Horsemen of Washington
    Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Ponderosa Chapter
    Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Traildusters Chapter
    Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Whatcom Chapter
    Back Country Horsemen Washington, Tahoma Chapter
    Southern Appalachian Back Country Horsemen
    Wyoming Back Country HorsemenBay Area Barns and Trails
    Bay State Trail Riders Association, Inc.
    Bike Tiverton
    Blue Mountains Conservancy
    Boulder Area Trails Coalition (BATCO)
    Buckeye Trail Association
    Cache County Trails Planning
    Cape Horn Conservancy
    Central Oregon Trail Alliance
    Central Washington Endurance Riders
    Champlain Area Trails
    Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy
    Chelan-Douglas Land Trust
    Chesapeake Conservancy
    Chinook Trail Association
    Choose Outdoors
    City of Carpinteria
    City of Redding
    Coastal Georgia Greenway, Inc.
    Colorado Mountain Club
    Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association
    Connecticut Forest & Park Association
    Continental Divide Trail Society
    The Corps Network
    Corvallis-to-the-Sea Trail (C2C Trail)
    County Line Riders of Catalina, INC
    Cullman County Economic Development
    Cumberland Trails Conference
    Donald Hoch, Director, Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission
    E mau na Ala Hele
    El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association
    Enchanted Circle Trails Association
    Equine Alliance Youth Foundation
    Florida Trail Association
    Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition
    Friends of Blackwater, Inc.
    Friends of Cloudland Canyon State Park
    Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
    Friends of the Cheat
    Friends of the Desert Mountains
    Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
    Friends of the Tonto National Forest
    Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
    Friends of Weiser River Trail
    Harrison Rail Trails, Inc.
    Helac Corporation
    Hestafolk
    Hestafolk 4-H Club
    Hestafölk Icelandic Horse Club
    Huron Waterloo Pathway Initiative
    Hut2Hut
    Ice Age Trail Alliance
    Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance
    The Intertwine Alliance
    Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority
    Jamestown Parks and Recreation (North Dakota)
    Keystone Trails Association
    Lake Champlain Committee
    Lake Ray Roberts Equestrian Trail Association
    Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc.
    Lewis and Clark Trust, Inc.
    Linn County Iowa Conservation
    Madison Byways
    Marin County Bicycle Coalition
    Marin Municipal Water District
    Maui Mountain Bike Coalition
    Mazamas
    Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
    M-NCPPC, Montgomery County Department of Parks
    Mode Shift Omaha
    Mormon Trails Association
    National Coast Trail Association
    Nevada All-State Trail Riders
    New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
    Nez Perce Trail Foundation
    Nickel Plate Trail
    North Country Trail Association (NCTA)
    North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA
    Oregon Equestrian Trails
    Oregon Horse Country (Oregon Horse Council)
    Oregon Natural Desert Association
    Oregon-California Trails Association
    Outside Las Vegas Foundation, dba Get Outdoors Nevada
    Overmountain Victory Trail Association
    Ozark Highlands Trail Association
    Ozark Trail Association
    Pacific Crest Trail Association
    Parks & Trails New York
    Partnership for the National Trails System
    Pathfinders For Greenways
    Pearl City Sno-Pearls
    Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
    Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society
    Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance
    Pima Trails Association
    Portage Park District Foundation, Ravenna, OH
    Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
    Rail-Trail Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Inc.
    Recreation Outdoors Coalition
    Rock County Multi Use Trail Group
    Rockfish Valley Foundation
    Rocky Mountain Field Institute
    Ruby Valley Cycling Club
    Sam Houston Trails Coalition
    San Joaquin River Trail Council
    San Luis Valley Great Outdoors
    Santa Fe National Historic Trail
    Santa Fe Trail Association
    Scenic Trails Research
    Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition
    Simpson University Outdoor Leadership
    Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition
    Southern Appalachian Bicycle Association
    Southern Kettle Moraine Horse Trail Association
    Southern Oregon Trail Alliance
    Southwest Trail & Distance Riders
    Spring Trust for Trust
    Student Conservation Association
    Superior Hiking Trail Association
    Tahoe Rim Trail Association
    Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway
    Tillamook Estuaries Partnership
    Town of Castle Rock Parks & Recreation
    Trail Insight
    Trail of Tears Association
    Trailkeepers of Oregon
    Trails & Bikeways Council of Greater Redding
    Trails and Open Space Coalition
    Trails Inspire, LLC
    Trails Utah
    Triangle Greenways Council
    Tuleyome
    Upper Valley Trails Alliance
    Vernon Township Recreation
    Victor Hiking Trails, Inc.
    Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership
    Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona
    Waldo County Trails Coalition
    Walk Sitka
    Warrior Expeditions
    Washington Trails Association
    The Wilderness Society
    Wildlands Restoration Volunteers
    Wisconsin Horse Council Trails Committee
    Wyoming Pathways
    York County Rail Trail Authority


    1 Partnership for the National Trails System, Contributions Sustaining the National Scenic and Historic Trails (2018), http://pnts.org/new/partnership-for-the-national-trails-system-gold-sheet-of-volunteer-contributions-in-2017/.
    2 Outdoor Recreation Economy, Outdoor Industry Association 15 (2017), https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/OIA_RecEconomy_FINAL_Single.pdf; “Forest Service Makes it Easier for Visitors to Enjoy National Forests and Grasslands.” U.S. Forest Service, https://www.fs.fed.us/news/releases/forest-service-makes-it-easier-visitors-enjoy-national-forests-and-grasslands.
    3 Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2016. U.S. Department of the Interior 2 (2017), https://doi.sciencebase.gov/doidv/files/FY%202016%20DOI%20Economic%20Report%202017-09-25.pdf.
    4 Outdoor Recreation Economy, Outdoor Industry Association 5 (2017), https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/OIA_RecEconomy_FINAL_Single.pdf.
    5 “National Park System Sees More Than 330 Million Visits”, National Park Service (Feb. 28, 2018), https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/02-28-2018-visitation-certified.htm.
    6 Fiscal Year 2018 The Interior Budget In Brief, Department of the Interior BH-9 (May 2017) https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/uploads/2018_highlights_book.pdf.
     
    Contact:
    Brandi Ebner, Executive Director
    (971) 224-5879