Presenter: Andrew Goldbloom

Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Ntional Recreational Trail Grant Fund Awards
August 1998

I. Discussion: In May 1998, Congress re-authorized the National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) through a provision in the Federal Highway Bill. This provision dictates that a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases to utilize off-road recreational vehicles, such as dirt bikes and four-wheelers, be diverted to a fund to create new and maintain existing recreational trails. At the federal level, this fund is 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. In 1992, the Governor of Texas designated the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the fund administrator at the state level.

The NRTF was re-authorized for six years at $30 million for FY98, $40 million for FY99, and $50 million for FY00 through FY03 nationwide. Texas' share of these funds is $1,388,956 for FY98, a 100% increase over last year’s funding level.

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 Department appointed eleven individuals to form the Texas Trails Advisory Board in May 1996 and received official certification of eligibility from the Federal Highway Administration shortly thereafter.

In May 1998, a 60-day call for proposals was issued in the Texas Register and cities, counties, state and federal parks and trail related groups were directly notified of the availability of the trail funds. On July 30th and 31st the Trails Advisory Board met in Austin to review the submitted trail project proposals and develop a list of recommended projects for funding.

Fifty-eight projects were submitted for funding consideration requesting almost $1.8 million in funds. Each project was reviewed by the advisory board and ranked based on the quality of the project, its cost effectiveness, and its impact on recreational trail opportunities. Exhibit A contains the list of submitted projects, with funds requested by each sponsor, and funding recommended by the advisory board. As allowed by law, the Department may, and anticipates, utilizing up to 7% of the state's share to cover administrative costs associated with this program. A federal requirement of the NRTF is that 30% of the funds must be spent on motorized recreational trails, 30% on non-motorized trails, with the remaining 40% discretionary. The advisory board has the ability to waive this requirement if sufficient projects are not submitted to satisfy the requirement. We did not receive enough requests for motorized trail funds to satisfy the 30% funding requirement and the board voted to waive this requirement for the current fiscal year. Exhibit B contains a discussion of individual, eligible project proposals.

II. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"Funding for 49 projects in the amount of $1,325,138 is approved as described in Exhibit A."

Attachments - 2

1. Exhibit A - Project Listing and Funding Recommendations
2. Exhibit B - Fiscal Note
(Exhibits A-B - Available upon request.)

Top of Page