The Recreational Trails Program (RTP), the funding program that has sustained state trail programs for two decades, has been reauthorized as part of the transportation bill approved by the U.S. Congress June 29 and signed by President Barack Obama July 6, the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) reported in a press release.

Under the new legislation, which will fund transportation programs through Sept. 30, 2014, the RTP will receive $85 million in annual funding for the next two fiscal years.

RTP applies the “user-pay/user-benefit” philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund, which provides funding for transportation programs and projects, returning federal tax on fuel used for nonhighway recreation to the states for trail projects. Since the RTP was first authorized in 1991, the program has become the foundation for state trail programs nationwide, providing essential funding for tens of thousands of trail projects and fostering effective partnerships among diverse trail enthusiasts, government officials at the federal, state and local levels, and national organizations in the conservation, recreation and transportation fields.

Leaders of the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), the federation of national and regional trail-related organizations whose members have supported the effective implementation, enhancement and extension of the RTP since 1992, spoke enthusiastically about the RTP success and its Congressional champions, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine).

“We are very grateful to Sen. Klobuchar, whose strong commitment to the RTP and ability to build a bipartisan alliance to support the program ensured that dedicated funding for RTP was included in MAP-21, the Senate’s reauthorization bill, and then made part of the final bill approved by the conference committee,” said CRT Co-Chair Derrick Crandall, ARC president.