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There is a perception that Federally-funded recreational trails are a fringe benefit for the granola-eating, spandex-wearing crowd. That is not at all the case: off-road vehicle users are also beneficiaries. While environmentalists may not exactly like them, the off-road lobby can be a powerful ally.

A U.S. Senate committee has unveiled a draft proposal that would end the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which provides money to states to develop and maintain trails, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

On Nov. 4, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released its proposed transportation funding authorization bill for the next two years, entitled “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21). The bill specifies what transportation programs are approved for federal funding. The panel is expected to vote on the bill on Nov. 9 before sending it to the full Senate for approval. If it clears the Senate, then it would go to the House for further consideration.

The RTP, which became law in 1991 as part of a federal transportation funding authorization bill, is considered to be one of the most important and beneficial laws for off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders ever passed by Congress. AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman, who had a hand in creating the law in 1991 with BlueRibbon Coalition founder Clark Collins, has stated that abolishing the program would effectively create a tax increase on OHV riders because the RTP funds would no longer be designated for a program that benefits motorized trail users.

Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, was shocked by the committee’s proposal.

OHV trails are mainly in Republican-leaning districts. I don’t think red-state Senators thought this one through…

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