Recreational Trails Program
New Mexico State Parks is responsible for administering the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The RTP is a federal assistance program made possible through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The RTP provides up to 80% of project funds to develop, improve and maintain trails and trail-related facilities for motorized and non-motorized recreational trail uses.
These federal funds make it possible to enhance, improve and increase recreational opportunities in New Mexico through the development and maintenance of recreational trails and trail-related facilities. Trail uses include hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles. Eligible applicants include local, state and federal agencies, Native American tribes and pueblos, and non-profit organizations in partnership with eligible agencies.
STATUS OF THE RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM
There have been a number of issues affecting the RTP in New Mexico, as follows:
The President signed H.R. 4348 into law, PL 112-141, "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21). The legislation re-authorized highway funding for two-years through September 30, 2014. However, the language gave each state Governor, or their designee, in our case, the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), the opportunity to "Opt Out" of the RTP in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY)13 and/or FFY14.
On August 30, 2012 the NM Department of Transportation Secretary transmitted a letter to FHWA stating that New Mexico would NOT OPT OUT of RTP in FFY13. This was initially good news as it meant the FFY13 RTP would be in effect beginning October 1, 2012, continuing through September 30, 2013.
Unfortunately, in September 2012, the Congress and the President enacted the 2013 Continuing Resolution (CR) law, PL 112-175. This bill created continuing budget authority for FY13, from October 1, 2012 through March 27, 2013. However the CR only allows the states to obligate 48.77% of the RTP funds available in FFY13.
This means is there will not be a call for project proposals until the balance of the FY13 funds are made available for obligation.
Additionally, the RTP is still vulnerable for FFY14 as the Governor, or their designee (NMDOT), has until September 1, 2013 to notify the FHWA if the state is going to "Opt Out" of the RTP for FFY14, as a stand-alone grant program.
To further complicate matters, the US Congress and the President are at odds over how to develop an alternative budget package that targeted $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts in 2013. It is not known at this time what the impact of any proposed spending cuts will have on the federal grant programs in FY13 or future years.
State Parks will continue to work with the NMDOT to preserve the Recreational Trails Program in FFY14. NMSPD is doing everything we can to see that the RTP continues to exist as a stand-alone program for the benefit of all New Mexicans.
Please check back on the web page for further information about the FY13 call for RTP project proposals. We will post additional information about the future of RTP in New Mexico as it develops.
For more information contact:
Maurice (Moses) A. Mondary, State Trails Administrator