About the Recreational Trails Program
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is an assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that provides funds to the States for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses.
The RTP embraces the “user-pay/user-benefit” philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund, which collects an estimated $270 million per year in motor fuel excise tax from nonhighway recreational fuel use. These funds represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from nonhighway recreational fuel use in each state: fuel used for off-highway recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-highway light trucks.
States are required to use 40 percent of their RTP funds for diverse recreational trail use, 30 percent for motorized recreation, and 30 percent for nonmotorized recreation. Each State develops and manages its own program of project selection and grant administration, in partnership with communities, agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
About the RTP Database
The RTP Database provides an online record of RTP project data. This database contains a list of projects and photos which can be searched by: State, County, Congressional District, Trail Name, Project Name, Permissible Use, Managed Use, Land Ownership, Year Awarded, and keywords.
This data is voluntarily provided by the States and the District of Columbia and its accuracy is subject to the quality of the data reported and the timeliness of the reporting.
Why the RTP is Important
There are a variety of issues that are increasingly impacting the RTP and the greater trails industry. None are more pressing than the persistent, growing issue of the trail maintenance backlog on public lands.
As of 2020, the U.S. Forest Service alone has more than $5.2 billion in infrastructure repairs and maintenance has been postponed year-after-year, otherwise known as “deferred maintenance.” Of that staggering amount, $3.7 billion comes from transportation infrastructure (includes all roads, trails, bridges, and tunnels).
This backlog impacts every aspect of the trails management, including wildfire fighting and active management of our nation’s public lands, and affects access for millions of Americans to recreation opportunities and for rural communities who depend on these amenities for their livelihoods and economic prosperity.
The RTP uniquely provides the most consistent source of funding needed to address America’s huge trail maintenance backlog. Land managers are able to leverage trail projects and RTP funding to develop opportunities to engage volunteers and habitat specialists in improving trail experiences, natural habitats, and economic benefits from enhanced outdoor recreation.