Reps Curtis and Welch reintroduce bipartisan bill to boost funding for recreational trails

Today, Representative John Curtis (R-UT) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced legislation that will more than double funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Since 1991, RTP has provided funding to states to develop and maintain outdoor recreational trails, allowing millions of Americans and their families to enjoy activities such as off-roading, snowmobiling, hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing.




“The Recreational Trails Program has created countless opportunities for motorized recreation and human-powered experiences,” said Curtis. “This bill will ensure that future generations get to visit the great outdoors, while supporting local economies and jobs, especially throughout rural areas.”

Our nation has unparalleled natural beauty that provides year-round opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Welch. “Boosting funding for this important program will ensure that future generations will experience the joy of hiking and exploring our scenic trails for many years to come.”

Statements of Support

Bud Bruening, President of UTV Utah: 

“UTV Utah supports the Recreational Trails Program Full Funding Act of 2021. Motorized recreation is one of the largest contributors to the outdoor recreation economy, and we welcome any improvements to programs that are designed to invest in motorized recreation.”

Clif Koontz, Executive Director of Ride with Respect: 

“Trail use is growing, yet the USFS and BLM’s recreation budgets are dwindling, so more funding is desperately needed to protect the trails and their surroundings. If the RTP budget were to become several-times larger, we are confident that all of it would be put to good use. Those funds would boost local economies since trails are a key amenity for tourists and residents alike. For these reasons, Ride with Respect wholeheartedly supports the RTP Full Funding Act of 2021, and we appreciate your initiative on this vital issue.” Full letter [HERE].

Ben Burr, Policy Director of BlueRibbon Coalition/ShareTrails: 

“The RTP framework has resulted in positive investments into recreational access. However, there is room for improvement in how the funding for the program is determined, and there is a need for increased transparency to ensure all members of the outdoor recreation community benefit as intended. The Recreational Trails Full Funding Act of 2021 is a great step towards correcting these deficiencies in the program.” 

Scott Schloegel, Senior Vice President Government Relations for the Motorcycle Industry Council: 

“The RTP is a critical program for ensuring the development and maintenance of trails for motorcycles, ATVs and side-by-sides. We appreciate Congressman Curtis’ leadership on this legislation that will require a fresh study of the amount of gas tax paid by the powersports community, to fight to return more of that money to trails in Utah and states all across the country.  It will also increase transparency by requiring states to detail on the amount of motorized, non-motorized, and mixed use trails they are funding to ensure states are meeting the funding goals of the RTP.”

Marianne Fowler and Derrick Crandall, Co-Chairs of the Coalition for Recreational Trails:

“America’s large recreational trails community is grateful for the national leadership of U.S. Representatives Welch, Curtis and others to continue a great success story over the last 30 years – the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Every major trail organization supports expansion of RTP using federal fuel taxes generated through nonhighway recreational activities to deliver healthy, safe, diverse, and exciting trail opportunities and to empower a partnership of federal land managers, state and local park and recreation agencies and trail enthusiasts.  The serendipity is that the RTP is also proving to be a potent economic stimulus, supplying a vital base for the nation’s nearly-$800 billion annual outdoor recreation industry.”


The bill will more than double RTP funding to at least $250 million. The program is modeled after the Highway Trust Fund and is funded through taxes paid on gasoline used to fuel snowmobiles, ATVs, and other recreational vehicles that do not use highways. The program is currently funded at $84 million annually, which is substantially less than is collected in taxes on fuel used by these vehicles.

The Recreational Trails Full Funding Act of 2021:

  • requires the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to estimate the amount of gas taxes paid by non-highway recreational users. The current estimate is more than a decade old, but suggests that those users pay more than $270 million.
  • increases RTP funding from $84 million to $250 million.
  • increases the transparency of the programs funded.

The legislation is also cosponsored by Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Richard Neal (D-MA), Mike Simpson (R-ID), and Grace Napolitano (D-CA).