On Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law an economic recovery package that contains funding for bicycle facilities, trails, public land recreation and improvement projects. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar estimated that the funding could create as many as 100,000 jobs and help communities across America finance new projects on public lands.
IMBA urges its affiliated clubs to work in partnership with their local elected officials and land managers to find out what funding is available for mountain bike trails. In particular, this is a crucial opportunity to pitch decision makers on projects that are “shovel ready” (i.e. those awaiting funding, with an existing, land manager-approved start date).
“Just like the extensive trail building of the Roosevelt-era New Deal and the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, IMBA volunteers stand ready to help build and repair our nation’s public trails,” said IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel. “Compared to many public lands projects, trails are cheap and easy to build. Our clubs have dozens of valuable projects that are ready to go, can put people to work, and show tangible results on a short timeline.”
Be sure to check out IMBA’s online resources for creating forceful, well-organized appeals for trail projects. Visit America Bikes for additional information on the economic recovery package, including advice on shaping a letter to your governor to encourage state funding for trails.
Funding Will be Distributed Through Multiple Agencies
The stimulus funds will benefit many cycling-related projects, and will be distributed through multiple channels:
U.S. Forest Service: The Forest Service will see $1 billion agency wide to help create almost 30,000 new private sector jobs concentrated in two major project areas Wildland Fire Management and Capital Improvement and Maintenance. See a full list of state projects.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: The Corps will see $300-400 million in recreation funding. The Corps of Engineers is increasingly interested in trails, mountain biking and tourism on the land around their lakes, rivers and dams. IMBA has been a Corps partner since 2002, and recently complete work on a 30-mile trail system at Pennsylvania’s Raystown Lake.
National Park Service: The NPS gets $750 million in funding to enhance care of national icons and historic landscapes, improve energy efficiency, perform road work and provide historic preservation funding. The National Park Service construction budget rises to $589 million, including $2.6 million for construction at the New River Gorge National River of up to 15 miles of mountain bike trails.
Bureau of Land Management: The BLM will see $320 million to expand its capacity to authorize renewable energy development on public lands, eliminate underbrush in fire-prone areas and restore native plants and animals. IMBA recently helped secure $600,000 for the BLM to build 40 miles of trail in Northern California’s King Range.
Community Development Block Grants: These grants gain $1 billion to help revitalize cities and urban county neighborhoods, promote economic development, and improve community facilities. Sidewalks, bike lane, path and trails are all eligible.
Transportation Enhancements Program: About $800 million in funding is now flowing through this program. The investment will substantially enhance the momentum for trail-based recreation opportunities in all 50 states. The funds target bike paths, bike lanes and walking/bicycling infrastructure. Visit America Bikes for more on this program.
Student Conservation Corps: The economic stimulus package placed strong emphasis on inspiring the participation of young adults and working with job and youth corps’ across the country. The Student Conservation Association will be organizing thousands of youth to assist in restoring trails for visitors. The National Park Service alone will have 6,000 students working at parks across the country this summer.