American Horse Council
Transportation Legislation Passed in Both House and Senate:
House Gives More Funding to Trails, Senate Includes Horse Provision
The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to approve a $283 billion surface transportation proposal which has been stuck in the political process for over a year.
The legislation, widely known as the highway-funding bill, contains a major boost for funds for the Recreational Trail Program (RTP) which provides money to the states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized trail uses. The legislation slowly ramps up funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) which is currently funded at $50 million a year. Under the House-passed legislation, starting immediately in FY 2004 the RTP would receive $53 million, $70 million in FY 2005, and then an additional increase of $10 million each year through 2009 where it would receive $110 million.
Equestrians should note that there is one significant difference for them between the House and Senate bills; the House bill does not include a provision proposed by the Bush Administration and passed by the Senate which would add equestrians in the definition of allowable activities on Shared Use Paths. Some land managers have used this exclusion to deny access to equestrians, though that was never the intent of the federal government.
A conference between the House and Senate will be conducted to resolve this and other policy and budgetary differences between the two bills. The American Horse Council will work to ensure that the Senate language is included in the final bill.