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Thread: Call to Action

  1. #1

    Default Call to Action

    I am the Mat-Su/Copper River Basin representative for Alaska's Recreational Trails Program. I was asked to serve on the Board as the motorized representative.

    The Alaska Recreational Trails Program normally gets about 1.2 million dollars a year. Half of this has been going to State Parks for trail crews. The Board was notified today that the State is getting over 2.6 million dollars and does not have time to accept new grant applications.

    The State Trails Coordinator has given us two options and called a meeting for this Friday. We've been told that we can use the money to fund State Parks trail crews OR use the money to supplement the SnowTrac Program. Neither of these options is appropriate for the additional 1.4 million plus dollars.

    from the RTP website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrails/
    The RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from nonhighway recreational fuel use: fuel used for off-highway recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-highway light trucks.

    The Federal rules say that 30% of the money must go toward motorized recreation projects. That would mean over $780,000 for motorized projects this year. I believe that we have been getting the short end of the stick.

    There is a third option for the additional monies, and that is roll the money over to next years grant program. This was a common practice in years past and is still allowed according to the Federal Highways June 4, 2010 memorandum http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/..._compapprt.htm

    I need your help now.

    I need every club and every motorized user to write the Director of State Parks and Outdoor Recreation and the State Trails Coordinator and tell them to roll the money over into next years grant program. I need you to do this today! The more they hear from the motorized community the better our chances of keeping this money. The money will then be available for grants this fall and we will have a chance of actually benefiting from taxes WE paid.

    Ben Ellis, Director of State Parks and Outdoor Recreation ben.ellis@alaska.gov
    Bill Luck, State Trails Coordinator, william.luck@alaska.gov

    Scott Lapiene


  2. #2

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    BTT, great to see all the hits in just a few hours

    Are you sending an email? Please sound off.

    A flood starts with the first drop.

    Thanx!

  3. #3

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    Email's sent

  4. #4
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Default

    2 e-mails from me.
    BK

  5. #5
    Member Trail Boss's Avatar
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    Unhappy Bill's at it again!

    Scott
    You know Ben & Bill are not going to give it all to Snow-Trac only about $50,000 and with the little funding we get that will not go very far.
    But I will call them both or Email both and be hot on their trail about the money going to State Parks!
    Being On Snow-trac I know this chit is not right!!!!
    Trail Boss
    Willow Trail Committe
    ALASKA'S Winter Park Cabins
    To boldly make trail where no man has gone before!!!

  6. #6

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    Hey Bill,

    They are talking about *alot* more than 50,000! They have $2MM more than they budgeted for. They know that it would look real bad if they took the majority of that and gave it to State Parks. I suggested 100,000 go to Snowtrac and carry over the rest. I appreciate you writing an email.

    Scott

  7. #7

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    Greetings all,

    First, thanx to those that have sent emails!!! To others please take the time to send an email. The Board meets Friday and we need the Director on notice that the community thinks that their plan to give the money to State Parks is wrong. After all how many State Parks have you ridden in this year? We need to apply enough pressure so that this issue is addressed at the management level not the staff level. Short and sweet is ok. The best one I've seen yet "Dear Bill, please give the tax payers their money back. Thank you." :-) You don't have to be a professional writer. You just have to care enough to say, hey this isn't right.

  8. #8

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    Received the budget spreadsheet today. If you want it PM me an email addy. summary, 310,500 motorized money to State Parks trail crews, total take by State Parks projects 1,536,690 plus 117,000 to Snowtrac & 219,228 for State administrative expenses. The remainder to 'public' grants. 2010, before I was appointed, they took 210,000 of motorized money for State Parks trail crews.

    They are not listening to the calls to roll over the motorized money. Tonights letter to Sen Huggins and Rep Stoltze



    Senator Huggins, Representative Stoltze,

    You all are the only folks I know that may be able to right this wrong. State Parks is proposing to take $310,500 for maintaining "motorized" trails in State Parks. Last year they took $210,000 for this same purpose. Total take by State Parks for 2011 is $1,536,690, over half the total RTP money for the whole State!

    I have asked POR to carry over the motorized monies as permitted in the FHWA June 4, 2010 memorandum http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/..._compapprt.htm So far they have refused to consider it as an alternative.

    I have spoken to the Federal Highways person in Juneau, Paul Wistrand, and there is no Federal rule prohibitting the State from carrying over the monies. Any restriction is one created by State policy between DOT-PF and DPOR. This needs to be changed now.

    If POR won't carry over the motorized funding then they should be using it to solve problems like the one with the Rex Trail. The Rex needs to be rerouted. It requires no permits to send folks into the field to find, survey and record an easement for a new trail. It just takes a bunch of money and POR having the want to.

    The ORTAB Board has been given three days notice about the issue described below and offered just one alternative, shown in the attached spreadsheet, by POR. Tomorrow at 3pm we will be asked to vote on the only alternative POR has brought forward, spending our OHV gas tax dollars in State Parks. Places where, for the most part, motorized recreation is not welcomed. As the sole board member meeting the Federal RTP requirements for motorized representative I can not support this. Any help you can provide is appreciated.

    The RTP budgets for 2010 & 2011 are attached.

    Sincerely
    Scott C. Lapiene

  9. #9
    Member Trail Boss's Avatar
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    Question ?

    So what happen at the meeting?
    Trail Boss
    Willow Trail Committe
    ALASKA'S Winter Park Cabins
    To boldly make trail where no man has gone before!!!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Boss View Post
    So what happen at the meeting?
    I was still at the meeting when you posted!


    First, thank you for all who wrote emails. You made a difference, DPOR said "we have never had so many emails from the motorized community that were well written, concerned and wanted to help"

    What happened? the short version, DPOR is going to accept grant applications for one week and accept applications up to $100,000. I'll post up more details later tonight.

  11. #11

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    Summary, POR received 1.5MM more than expected this year. Total received was ~2.6MM. POR wanted to spend the majority, 1MM of the additional funds for trail crews inside state parks. 310M of that 1MM is dedicated to motorized by Federal Law. I objected. Federal Law allows the funds to be carried over and I wanted the motorized money carried over...

    The meeting was well attended. The Deputy Commissioner of DNR, the POR Finance Manager and Director of POR were there. Five ORTAB members, two Snowtrac members, the President of Alaska Trails, POR Trails Coordinator and an admin assistant.

    The Dep Commissioner made it clear that this issue, including motorized recreation and access to all State Lands is important to the Commissioner. The simple fact that he attended this meeting says a lot. I don't think he would have been there if we hadn't written the emails. A little prodding by Rep Stoltze and Sen Huggins didn't hurt either.

    The Finance Manger confirmed that the existing policy between DOT-PF and POR says that carried over money is deducted from the next years program. Everyone agreed that this is BS and the Dep Commissioner will to try and get this changed. However there is no chance it could be done in the next 30 days.

    That left us with the issue of how to allocate the extra money. First 117M is going to Snowtrac. Second the grant application process will be opened for one week. With the limit raised from 50M to 100M. Why only one week? The money has to be assigned to a project by 9/15 or DOT-PF deducts it from next years money. Whatever is not awarded in grants will go to State Parks.

    The only grants I see getting done in this time frame are those that don't require any significant permitting. For example a grant to relocate the Rex Trail, that is find a new route on high ground, flag it, cut it in, survey it (tho there is an issue with funding surveys I will work on) and record an easement. Future grants or volunteers could then 'build' the new trail.

    Other possibilities are projects on Boro lands or projects that don't require permits or permits that are easy and fast to get. For instance brushing trails with chain saws. The program will pay for tools, fuel, PPE, etc. One idea we have is brushing trails in the Sutton area. It only requires an overland travel permit for our excavator and we might be able to get ML&W to issue it in time. Safety and Education grants is another possibility.

    So now it is up to us. If we don't want State Parks to take our money then we need to write some grants. I had really hoped that after this meeting I would be done for a while... But plans change.

    Tomorrow I will meet with AOAA and AOC reps to discuss a grant for the Rex Trail. Next week I will contact Fed Highways about using grant money for surveys (they used to allow it). As well as work on some other possibilities

    If you have an idea or want to try your hand at writing a grant I will help anyway I can. It is ok if you don't but don't be surprised if I ask for some help this next week. I'm already thinking of things

    I don't visit here often, I hang more on the alaska4x4network site. If you want to talk I'm in the book.

    Scott

  12. #12

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    Here is the announcement from POR:


    Hello all,

    Sorry for the duplicate copy if you have received this posting multiple times, but this was to be released internally to all of DNR and I am not sure that it has been. The announcement hasnít reached my mailbox yet, so I figured that I would at least cover all of the folks on my contact list. Please pass this information forward as you see fit, but realize there is a very short window of opportunity.

    Closely read the media release below for additional details. You can also contact Steve Neel (contact information is listed below) for more information. Unfortunately, I will be leaving my position soon and will be out of state while this announcement is being posted. However, Steve has my telephone number to contact me if there are any questions that he cannot answer. I will do my best to respond as quickly as possible.

    This posting can also be found at the following link: http://dnr.alaska.gov/commis/pic/publicnote.cfm.

    ***Some further clarification on the Safety and Education funds: we have already received more than enough requests to commit to the full 5% of funds that are available. Therefore, we will not be soliciting more applications or requests for that category of project funding.

    We look forward to reviewing any new requests and are very excited to have been awarded these additional funds for projects statewide!

    Best regards,

    Bill

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