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American Horse Council aims to preserve Recreational Trails Program

The American Horse Council, of which the American Quarter Horse Association is a member organization, is working to preserve the Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program. If Congress does not take action this year, this program could no longer be available to recreational riders.

The Recreational Trails Program provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses. It was created in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and was last reauthorized in 2005 as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users; however, this law is about to expire. The RTP will have to be reauthorized in the next national surface transportation program bill if it is to continue.

Since its inception, the RTP has provided approximately $677 million for thousands of state and local trail projects across the country, including many that benefit equestrians. RTP projects consist of construction, maintenance and restoration of trails and trail-related facilities as well as the acquisition of easements or property for trails.

Although each state manages its own program, 30 percent of RTP funds must be spent on nonmotorized projects like equestrian trails, 30 percent on motorized and 40 percent on multi-use projects.

In the coming months, Congress is expected to begin work on the next five-year highway bill. The AHC, in conjunction with a broad coalition of recreational trail users, is requesting that Congress not only reauthorize the RTP but also increase funding for the program to $555 million to be spent during the five years of the bill.

"AQHA has been successful in grassroots lobbying, and we once again need the help of our members to ensure that our trails stay funded and functional for equestrian activities," said Don Treadway Jr., AQHA executive vice president.

The AHC urges recreational riders to contact their members of Congress to voice support for this program.

Contact information for Congressional representatives and senators can be found at www.house.gov/ and www.senate.gov/.

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