This seems like the longest election season ever. First, we had the presidential primary marathon, and since August we have had the rough and tumble fight between the two major party candidates. It has been a mud fest at best. November 8th can’t come soon enough. Whatever you do, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Of course, the morning after begins the real work of wondering where the country will be headed under new management. Whenever I see a sign, “Under New Management” on a retail establishment, especially a restaurant, I think it could be good or bad. Good if the old management was bad and possibly bad if the old management was good. There is always that unknown. The people’s collective decision on November 8th will be all about bringing about change to our government. Knowing what it all means is another matter.
We will spend our time between November 9th and the December newsletter trying to figure out what all of this means for OHV recreation. Maybe we will be seeing wholesale management changes in the federal land agencies or on the natural resources committees on Capitol Hill. Every little or big change in personnel, from the President on down, will have some sort of impact. Our job is to try to figure out how and when those changes will take place so we can adjust our strategies in support of OHV recreation. More on all of this in our next newsletter.
Lame Duck Session
The name sums it all up. Members of Congress, battered after intense days of electioneering, come limping back into town and the return is especially hard for those members who have been permanently shown the door by their constituents. And while licking the wounds of defeat, they still face a few more days of congressional session where they have to do the people’s business.
Finding a way to fund federal agencies for the remainder of FY2017 is the top priority of this lame duck session. Both the House and the Senate return the week of November 14th and then take a break during Thanksgiving week to only return the week after until mid-December. Not much time to broker a deal on how to fund federal programs. The election returns of November 8th will have a major impact on the scope of those decisions.
Adding insult to injury, those House members who lost their seats in the election or who are retiring on their own must vacate their Capitol Hill offices by November 30th so that those offices can be readied for the newly elected members who come to Washington in early January. The winds of change will be very visible in the hallways of the House office buildings as offices are emptied of desks and files so that the painters can begin their work.
25th Anniversary of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP)
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) will observe its 25th Anniversary on the 18th of December. Legislation creating this program was signed into law on that date a quarter of a century ago. This is an important achievement for a remarkable program that has literally funded thousands of recreational trails throughout the country. Along the way, the program has been modified here and there, but the true essence of it remains the same. Motorized recreationists can take particular pride in what they do to make this program possible. A portion of the federal excise tax they pay on the fuel they use in their recreational vehicles goes towards supporting the RTP. Bikers, hikers and others benefit from this program, but it is the motorized recreational community that pays the tariff that makes this all possible.
RTP wouldn’t exist without motorized recreation. It’s as simple as that. RTP remains a major focus of our attention. Celebrating 25 years is an exciting milestone, but it is always the future we need to worry about especially in recruiting strong congressional proponents for the program. In recent years, many of our RTP Hill leaders have retired so the leadership ranks need to be replenished. This will be a focus of ours in 2017.
The Department of Transportation’s 2016 report on the RTP program was recently released. To access it please click here.
OHV Recreation is Good for the Economy
We have written before on how the Hatfield-McCoy OHV Trail System in West Virginia is contributing to the economic revival of that part of the state. Well, the anthracite coal region in eastern Pennsylvania has taken note and efforts have in recent years have resulted in the creation of another OHV riding area. Called the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA), this riding area encompasses more than 7,000 acres with hundreds of miles of trails for OHV recreation. To learn more about their actual location and hours of operation, you might want to check out their website: www.aoaatrails.com.
Larry E. Smith
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access