23 MAR 2006: Save an important U.S. trails program


The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) sent along this advocacy alert.

The message to members of Congress from Missouri is:

Please fully fund the Rivers, Trails and Conservation
Assistance Program (RTCA), a division of the National Park

You can find email, fax, & phone links to all MO congressmen here.

Details (from IMBA):

Stop Budget Cuts in The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program

Call On Your Member of Congress Today to Ask for Full Funding of $10.1 Million for RTCA

IMBA is asking its members and clubs to step up and help save a small, but very important federal program, the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA), a division of the National Park Service.

Please make a phone call to your Congressional representatives today, and consider forwarding this email to other trail users.

The Bush administration's proposed $500,000 program cut for 2007 is unwise and will hurt our nation's trails. Instead, IMBA hopes to see a budget of $10.1 million for RTCA, a suitable remedy for years of flat funding.

What Does RTCA Do?

The RTCA program is a technical assistance program of the National Park Service. RTCA yields enormous conservation and recreation benefits to communities by fostering partnerships between federal, state and local interests. The resulting cooperative efforts restore rivers and wildlife habitat, develop trail and greenway networks, preserve open space and revitalize communities. All of which contributes to improved quality of life and better recreation for Americans.

On average, the RTCA tackles 300 projects a year and partners protect nearly 700 miles of rivers, create more than 1,300 miles of trails, and conserve more than 61,000 acres of open space each year.

RTCA Funding Status

The President's 2007 budget calls for a program cut of $500,000, which would reduce overall funding for the program to $7.7 million. If the administration-proposed FY 2007 funding level were to be enacted, it would be a severe cut to this valuable program, put many of the projects presently underway at risk, and would result in a loss of staff and likely closure of field offices.

IMBA is part of the Rivers and Trails Coalition which strongly opposes the Administration's proposed cut and calls for a program budget increase to $10.1 million for RTCA in fiscal year 2007.

RTCA is not a program that should be cut by any amount, and in fact, requires almost $2 million increase to remedy the program's continued erosion, compensate for losses due to inflation, and enable the program to respond to growing needs and opportunities in communities throughout the country.

How to Take Action:

To call your Member of Congress, use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

To locate your Congressional leader online, visit:
U.S. House of Representatives at http://www.house.gov/
U.S. Senate at http://www.senate.gov/

What to Say:

* Ask for the congressional staffer that works on public lands issues or on the Interior Appropriations Bill.
* Tell them who you are, your address, phone number and if you work with an affiliated bike club or trails organization. Leave a message if you get voice mail.
* Thank them for their time and tell them you are calling about increasing the budget for a program of the National Park Service called Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance.
* Ask that they support the budget at $10.1 million and reject the Administrations proposal to cut the program by $500,000 (for a total of $7.7 million). (RTCA's budget is in the Interior Appropriations bill.)
* Site specific trail projects that RTCA works on in your state (Click here to review a list of 2005 project examples to use from your state.)
* Tell them this program has remained flat funded for several years and another cut will mean many more community trails projects won't get their assistance.
* Personalize your message. If you are familiar with some of the RTCA projects in your state, let the staffer know what they mean to you and why trails are important to your areas.

If you get exceptionally positive feedback from an congressional staffer, send a report of your call to IMBA's Jenn Dice jenn@imba.com

Thank you for your time in helping restore funding for this very important program.