Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Commission Agenda Item No. 4
National Recreational Trail Grant Funding
August 23, 2007

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 Trails Advisory Board.

II. 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 $75 million for the current federal fiscal year (FY2007), Texas' share of these funds is $3,473,635. A number of projects funded in previous years were completed under budget and a few projects were cancelled, creating another $361,000 available for re-allocation this year. The Department will utilize $173,681 to cover administrative costs associated with this program. This results in a total of $3,660,954 of federal funding available to fund eligible trail construction projects.

In March 2006, a 90-day call for proposals was issued. Fifty-eight projects were submitted for funding consideration requesting over $5.5 million in funds. Recommendations are to fund 41 of these projects at this time for a total of $3,660,954 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 Big Bend Ranch State Park, Devils River State Natural Area, Huntsville State Park and Cooper Lake State Park are included in the funding recommendation.

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, and the remaining 40 percent is 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 41 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $3,660,954 is approved."

Please contact Tim Hogsett for information about Exhibits