Presenter: Tim Hogsett
Commission Agenda Item No. 5
National Recreational Trail Grant Fund Awards
I. Discussion: The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) comes from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases to utilize off-road recreational vehicles, such as off-road motorcycles and four-wheelers. The purpose of the NRTF is to provide funding for projects that create new and maintain existing motorized and non-motorized recreational trails. These federal funds are administered by the Federal Highway Administration and distributed to states via a formula that takes into account state population and sales of fuel for off-road recreational vehicles. Nationwide, the program was appropriated $60 Million for the current federal fiscal year (FY2005), Texas' share of these funds is $2,533,693. A number of projects funded in previous years were completed under budget and a few large motorized trail projects were cancelled, creating another $1,543,149 available for re-allocation this year. In addition, $391,176 of funds earmarked for motorized trail projects was carried forward form last year and is available. The Department utilizes the allowable 7 percent of the current year funding which equals $177,358 to cover administrative costs associated with this program. This results in a total of $4,290,660 of federal funding available to fund eligible trail construction and acquisition projects.
In March 2004, a 90-day call for proposals was issued. Sixty-four projects were submitted for funding consideration requesting over $8.4 Million in funds. Recommendations are to fund 38 of these projects for a total of $4,290,660 of funding assistance.
The Act that created this fund stipulates that states must have a trails advisory board made up of various trail user group representatives to be eligible to receive the federal funds. The purpose of the trails advisory board is to provide guidance in the distribution of these funds. The nine member, Texas Trails Advisory Board met in late June to review the submitted trail project proposals and develop a list of recommended projects for funding. Each project was reviewed by the advisory board and ranked based on the quality of the project, its cost effectiveness, its impact on recreational trail opportunities, and geographic distribution of funds. Exhibit A contains the list of submitted projects, with funds requested by each sponsor, funding recommended by the advisory board and a description of each project. Four Department projects located at Cedar Hill, Estero Llano Grande, Inks Lake, and Lake Mineral Wells State Parks receiving funding are also listed.
A federal requirement of the NRTF is that 30 percent of the funds be spent on motorized recreational trail projects, 30 percent on non-motorized trail projects, with the remaining 40 percent discretionary. Typically, we receive few requests for motorized trail projects and are challenged to meet the 30 percent motorized trail funding requirement. This year, due to continued outreach efforts with potential sponsors, we received 12 funding proposals for motorized trail projects with recommendations to fund 7 of those projects.
II. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:
"Funding for 38 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $4,290,660 is approved."