View Full Version : ARRA Newsletter - November 2009

November 6th, 2009, 05:59 PM
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access - www.arra-access.com

November 2009
In This Issue...
>> Bad News for Tellico
>> FLAME Act
>> Transportation Reauthorization
>> Interior Appropriations

Read this issue and about other important access issues that may affect your use of public lands. Now on the ARRA Website http://www.arra-access.com/site/R?i=Ha0Wsw1BMRJZ5oiXZK32Aw..

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Washington Newsletter
November 2009

Bad News for Tellico
OHV enthusiasts along the east coast received some sobering news on October 14th when they learned that the Forest Service decided to permanently close the Upper Tellico OHV trail system in North Carolina. The closure will allow the Forest Service to correct and prevent further erosion problems in the Upper Tellico River watershed.

The news is especially disappointing since there are independent studies that show how these trails can be restored so that run-off problems are corrected, while still allowing for OHV recreation. During its review process, the Forest Service asked for comments on six alternatives for the future management of this area. More than 2400 comments were received. Rather than electing to manage recreation, the Forest Service decided to take the easy course of closure. Disappointing news, indeed!

One of the miracles of conference committees is that they can do extraordinary things even though only one legislative body may have taken similar action. That was the case when the House/Senate Conference on the Interior Appropriations for FY 2010 incorporated the FLAME Act, the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act, as a part of the conference agreement on this spending bill.

The House of Representatives passed the FLAME Act earlier this year as well as in the previous Congress, but the measure never made it through the Senate. ARRA has been a strong supporter of this legislation. The rising costs of fighting wildfires has been a growing financial burden on both the Forest Service and BLM, requiring annual accounting practices of "robbing Peter to pay Paul." In those years when the cost of fighting forest fires was exceedingly high, agencies were forced to reallocate funds from other programs, including recreation programs. The FLAME Act establishes reserve accounts for the Forest Service ($2.1 billon) and BLM ($856 million) that can tapped when a fire reaches a size of 300 acres or when regular wildfire suppression funds are depleted. This budgetary fix
is long overdue and we are very pleased this is now going to become law.

Transportation Reauthorization
The House and the Senate continue to disagree on how to tackle the major reauthorization of surface transportation programs, with very little referee help from the White House. Back in our July newsletter, we wrote about the disagreement between the White House and Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee over the length of the extension. The White House only wanted an 18-month extension while Rep. Oberstar wanted a full six-year extension.

Since then, little progress has been made and the current authorization was set to expire. Without an extension, highway construction dollars cannot flow from the federal government to state and local governments. The reason we care about this is the fact that the Recreational Trails Program is a part of the underlying legislation.

That same conference bill on Interior Appropriations for FY 2010 also included language for Continuing Resolution extending federal spending for those agencies without a permanent FY 2010 appropriation as well as a simple extension of the highway program. This extension will only be until December 18th so we will continue to keep you posted of future developments. You should consider the Continuing Resolution as a form of congressional life support for highway construction and the Recreational Trails program

Interior Appropriations
To be fair about it, not all of the news coming out of the Congress is bad news. We already reported on the FLAME Act being a part of the House-Senate agreement on Interior Appropriations and that the surface transportation program was extended until December 18th. The other good news coming out of the agreement is the fact that funding for federal recreation programs on public lands has been finalized for FY 2010. The chart available on the ARRA website provides information about recreation programs for both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service for FY2010:


You will note that there is a drop in funding for trail construction between FY 2009 and FY 2010. The high number for 2009 was due to the fact that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided the Forest Service with an additional $1.15 billion for economic stimulus projects. Some of the extra funds went towards trail construction and the FY 2009 budget reflects this increase.


Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access

Americans for Responsible Recreation Access
555 Twelfth Street, NW, Suite 710 North, Washington, DC 20004