Every four to six years, Congress passes the highway funding
reauthorization legislation, which includes all funding for transportation projects. It is widely known as the highway-funding bill. The legislation also contains the authorization for funds for the recreational trails Program (RTP), which provides funds to the states to develop and maintain recreational trail uses. The program was authorized in 1991 and has received increased funding and support since its establishment.
    The RTP is important to the recreational rider because the program
provides funding to build and improve trails for riders and allows the
states to decide where the new trails should be and what trails need
maintenance work. In April, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced federal highway legislation in the Senate that also reauthorizes the Recreational Trails Program. The Senate bill provides $270.8 million for RTP over five years, less than the House version of the highway bill.
    The Senate bill is also important to riders because in addition to the RTP funding, the bill contains a provision specific to the equestrian
community. Under current federal transportation law, equestrians are not
included in the definition of allowable activities on shared use paths. Some land managers have used this exclusion to deny access to equestrians, though that was never the intent of the federal government. The American Horse Council worked with the Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Congress to address this problem through the highway-funding bill by including an AHC supported clarification that equestrians are allowed to use shared-use paths along roadsides just as other users may. This provision is in Section 1607 of the bill.