(Billings, MT – YPR) – Eight trail projects from across the country are being recognized for their outstanding use of money from the federal Recreational Trails Program (RTF) funds.
The 14th Annual Achievement Awards were chosen by the Coalition for Recreational Trails.
Winning trails meander through Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wyoming. See the full list below.
The awards will be handed out June 5, 2012 on Capitol Hill. The celebration is part of Great Outdoors Week 2012. Two states and members of Congress also will be recognized.
One of the winners is a multi-use trail in Billings, Montana. The Swords Park Trail, Phase 2 is on top of the sandstone cliffs that frame the north end of the state’s largest city.
“When you’re up on the trail system you have incredible views of the Yellowstone River valley, of Billings itself, and you can also see 2 mountain ranges in the distance – The Beartooth Mountains and the Pryor Mountains,” says Darlene Tussing, alternate modes coordinator for the city of Billings. “It really is a beautiful environment.”
The Montana trail is the winner in the Environment and Wildlife Compatibility category.
Phase 2 converted what was once a historic road bed and historic site for early settlers to the Yellowstone Valley. This includes Sacrifice Cliff and Skeleton Cliff, important to the Crow Indian Tribe. There’s also Yellowstone Kelly’s grave and Boot Hill, both tributes to early white settlers to the Yellowstone Valley.
The Montana trail project serves both motorized and non-motorized users. The Swords Park, Phase 2 also won the 2012 Montana State Parks “Trail of the Year Award.”
“Because we wanted to give people choices,” says Candi Beaudry, Director of the City-County Planning Department. “It’s not one mode over the other. We look at all users and that’s embodied in the city’s Complete Streets Policy.”
Funding for this project came from a variety of sources, including the RTP.
“It’s important for Congress to understand how programs passed and operated here in D-C have real life impact on opportunities for recreation at the grass roots level all across this country,” says Derrick Crandall, President of the American Recreation Coalition.
Other winners are:
• The Lombard Trail (Idaho) – Maintenance and Rehabilitation
The RTP is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. It was created in 1991 and funding comes from the Federal Highway Trust Fund.
“The Congress said it’s only fair,” says Crandall. “Because a number of recreational trail interests, including: ATV’s, snowmobilers, motorcyclists and 4x4’s pay the federal gas tax on the fuel that they use in their recreational activities. It’s only fair that the money goes into the purposes that are directly benefiting recreation trails as opposed to paving roads or doing other kinds of traditional highway trust fund funded projects.”
Crandall says the RTF budget is about $84 million a year, a fraction of the $200 million collected each year from the roughly 18¢/gallon federal fuel tax from non-highway recreationists. Congress is working on a surface transportation reauthorization bill. Crandall is optimistic the Recreational Trails Program will continue to receive funding.
“While they (Senate and the House) may not agree on lots of things,” he says “They do seem to be in complete agreement on that (RTP funding).”