Trail Funding to be Cut?
While I'm sure federal policy is the last thing on your mind while you're out hiking, perhaps it shouldn't be.
Next time you hit the trail, take a moment to notice the bridges there to help you cross the creek, the rock wall supporting the switchback, or the fallen logs that were cut away from the trail. Chances are, your trail is kept in good shape by funds from the National Recreation Trails Program (NRTP). Housed in the federal transportation budget, NRTP provides money to state and federal agencies, as well as non-profit organizations like WTA, to keep our trails in good shape.
These NRTP dollars are critical; without them, our volunteer trail maintenance program would be cut in half. WTA receives $150,000 annually from NRTP. Those dollars are leveraged several times over as we use them to field volunteer work parties all over Washington state, from day trips to maintain Granite Mountain to Volunteer Vacations at Thorp Lake.
Here's where politics intrudes. The jobs bill that Congress just passed will be partially funded by a requirement that states give back $2.2 billion of their transportation funding. That's a big chunk of change. Where will it come from? We're very concerned that Washington's Department of Transportation could choose to raid their NRTP dollars to send those funds back. So, we have to make sure that money is sent back proportionally--in other words, that no single source is drained completely.
Update: The comment period for this action is over. Please see the comment below for more information. You can help. Please take a moment and contact Washington's Governor, Chris Gregoire. Tell her not to raid NRTP funds in order to comply with the $2.2 billion federal rescission, but to instead make proportional, across-the-board cuts. The needs on our trails are very serious, and every dollar is precious, particularly when hard-working volunteers multiply those dollars three times over with their great work.
You can contact Governor Gregoire's office by phone at (360) 902-4111. To email Governor Gregoire, please use this form.