8/7/2021 – 9:30 p.m. MT – UPDATE – We have reached out to our contact in the U.S. Senate, and the Senate has begun the process of closing debate on the infrastructure bill. As of this writing, it appears that negotiations are still underway to include a series of amendments to the bill ahead of the final vote. Senator Lee’s team still believes they will get a vote on the amendment to strike the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program. They had worked to have it included in a unanimous consent package on Friday night, but those broader negotiations fell apart. It is anticipated that if this amendment does get a vote in the Senate it will be sometime on Sunday. It isn’t often that the Senate works through the weekend like this, but since they are working it isn’t too late to contact your Senator and ask them to support Senator Lee’s amendment to strike the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program.
We are also hearing that an amendment to increase RTP funding is also still in the works. Senator Risch from Idaho and Senator Klobuchar from Minnesota are the key players on this amendment. So when you contact your Senators you can also ask them to support the Klobuchar/Risch amdendment to increase RTP funding.
We have been tracking the progress of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal in the U.S. Senate. This is a $1.5 trillion dollar spending package that impacts a wide range of issues. There are two amendments to this bill that our members and supporters need to be watching.
We ask that you support an amendment to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal to increase the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funding by the same percentage increase that the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is increased each year.
A long-delayed report from the Federal Highway Administration was just released analyzing the amount of federal gas taxes paid by non-highway recreational activity confirms that the total is nearly $300 million annually. This is more than three times the current funding of the Recreational Trails Program. We believe this new information should inform funding levels for RTP in the infrastructure bill currently being considered by the Senate.
Many of our members are other organizations who regularly apply for RTP grant projects to maintain OHV trails. These projects almost always include extensive volunteer efforts from our members and allies. This work contributes to the goodwill that we are able to create with federal and state land managers to ensure that all recreation users have strong voice in public land management decisions.
Because Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funds fall well short of providing rural counties with extensive federal land with adequate financial resources to manage county administration, RTP funds are an important funding source for helping counties maintain their roads, trails, and recreation infrastructure.
We encourage you to contact your Senators and request that they support this amendment.
Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program
We are also strongly opposed to SEC. 40801. FOREST SERVICE LEGACY ROAD AND TRAIL REMEDIATION PROGRAM of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. As we read this section it would amend the Forest Roads and Trails Act to create a new program called the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program. We are concerned that this provision would force closure of any roads and trails that don’t currently appear on a USFS Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). We regularly participate in the administrative processes to inform the creation of MVUMs, and these processes are incredibly fluid and ongoing across the entire USFS system and over a timespan measured in decades. It is often the case that MVUMs miss important roads and trails, and they require updating. The creation of these maps should be open and fluid and strongly informed by local coordinating agencies and stakeholders.
The inclusion of this provision is enough to compromise the integrity of the entire package for those who depend on access to National Forests for their livelihood and recreation. The USFS currently faces significant challenges in fighting increasing numbers of large wildfires. An adaptable road system is necessary to provide a safe operating environment for our wildland firefighters. It is necessary to provide reasonable access to private property owners, grazing permittees, and owners of mineral rights. Outdoor recreation use is exploding on public lands, and arbitrarily closing countless miles of roads through statutory action will reduce opportunities for all forms of outdoor recreation with the impacts most acutely felt by motorized recreation and dispersed camping communities.
We support the amendment offered by Senator Lee to strike this provision from the final bill.
We encourage you to contact your Senators and request that they support Senator Lee’s amendment to strike the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program from the Infrastructure Bill.
Here is the problematic language that should alarm all users of USFS roads, trails, and transportation networks:
Quit closing roads and trails on forest service and BLM land.
We as senior citizens enjoy off roading & also help to keep it clean for others. Please stop closing these trails & roads for all families also.
I humbly request that you support Senator Lee’s amendment to strike the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program from the Infrastructure Bill. This is simply a ploy to close public lands to vehicle use. I went off road and camping with my family when I was a child and continue to do it now into my forties with my family. It is a way to get away from the city, away from distractions such as TV and other electronics etc. and enjoy nature and its beauty. Closing of these lands for unfounded reasons such as this needs to stop. Please support the removal of the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program from the Infrastructure Bill. This is simply a ploy to close public lands to vehicle use and nothing more. Please allow me to maintain some sort of sanity and be able to continue to enjoy these areas with my family. Thank you.
We request that you support Senator Lee’s amendment to strike the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program from the Infrastructure Bill. This is simply a provision to remove motorized roads and trails from public use. There have been an excessive amount of closure of motorized roads and trails that needs to be mitigated by re-opening them to public use.
Please support funding of recreational trails!
We pay the gas taxes, funds should help us too.
I request your support lease amendment to strike the Forest service legacy road and trail remediation program from the infrastructure bill.
These roads and trails are part of a system which allows people to enjoy the national forest. Removing these trails and roads would do a great injustice to the people who are not fortunate enough to live within the forest. It would remove the ability to show your children and grandchildren one of God‘s great creation.
Dear Sirs:…I’m 71 & can’t balance on a motorcycle anymore & really enjoy my “side x side” for exploring our back country’s roads…there are plenty of signage already on these roads directed towards safety & directions…these safe & fun machines are primarily older folks as they are as expensive as a lower priced car…have seen many off-roaders picking up trash of others & have safety in mind…we didn’t make it to this ripe old age by being reckless…please keep our back country’s open…in closing, there are many remote satellite city’s in UT that rely on the business brought into the city coffers…”Marysvale” comes to mind & the popularity of the “Pauite Trail”…don’t loose that revenue to another state!!!