The U.S. Senate will vote on a bill that would end the dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which is considered to be one of the most important and beneficial laws for off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders ever passed by Congress, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
The RTP, which provides money to states to develop and maintain trails, would lose dedicated funding under provisions in a transportation funding authorization bill -- S. 1813, "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21) -- which was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by an 18-0 vote on Nov. 9.
It's unknown when the full Senate will vote on the measure.
The RTP became law in 1991 as part of a federal transportation funding authorization bill. Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, was shocked by the committee vote and noted that abolishing the RTP dedicated funding 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.
"Motorcyclists pay the gasoline taxes that go to sustain the trails program," Allard said. "Many interests pull from the highway fund and do not pay into it! It becomes akin to a tax increase to the general fund.
"This program was created for trail users and is self-funded by the highway fuel taxes of trail users," he added. "Trail users see this program as a very essential part of their chosen form of recreation, and there's no reason to redirect the funding for the program. The RTP pays for itself."
The RTP represents a portion of the federal motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use. In other words, taxes generated by fuel used for OHV recreation -- by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles and off-highway light trucks -- fund the RTP.
"I urge all concerned riders to contact their U.S. senators and ask them to support continued dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program," Allard said. "Money for the program comes from off-highway riders and should continue to be used to benefit off-highway riders."
The easiest way to contact lawmakers is by going to AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights > Issues & Legislation.