Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
National Recreational Trail Grant Funding
August 2006

I. Executive Summary: Action item to award federal funds allocated under the National Recreational Trail Grants for trail construction, renovation and acquisition projects. Obligates federal National Recreational Trail Funds to eligible trail projects based upon the recommendations of the Texas Statewide Trails Advisory Board.

II. Discussion: The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) comes from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases for off-road recreational vehicles, such as off-road motorcycles and four-wheelers. The purpose of the NRFT 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 $70 million for the current federal fiscal year (FY2006); Texas' share of these funds is $3,008,007. A number of projects funded in previous years were completed under budget and a few projects were cancelled, creating another $459,995 available for re-allocation this year. The Department will utilize $180,000 to cover administrative costs associated with this program. This results in a total of $3,288,002 of federal funding available to fund eligible trail construction and acquisition projects.

In March 2006, a 90-day call for proposals was issued. Sixty-nine projects were submitted for funding consideration requesting over $7.5 million in funds. Recommendations are to fund 40 of these projects at this time for a total of $3,288,002 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 eight members of the Texas Statewide 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. Eight Department projects located at Brazos Bend, Government Canyon, Hueco Tanks, Huntsville, Palmetto, Purtis Creek, South Llano and Wyler Aerial Tramway 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. The list of projects recommended for funding, if approved, will satisfy this federal requirement.

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

"Funding for 40 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $3,288,002 is approved."