By Tim “Lumpy” Tolleson


COVID has impacted a lot of people and economies over the past two years, and I have several friends who have gotten and beaten the virus. Sadly, one friend recently didn’t survive COVID-19; godspeed desert buggy racer Billy McCool. “COVID Reduction Techniques” (aka CRTs)—lockdowns, mandates, virtual learning—have greatly impacted America and the world, and these CRTs have been the subject of much debate. Teaching by Zoom has many home-bound parents up in arms at what is being taught in schools across the country, especially critical race theory, and debate has been heated, to say the least.

On the other hand, public reaction to COVID Reduction Techniques has been very good for the OHV recreation industry and UTVs in particular. As people escape the chaotic cities and COVID-induced cabin fever, outdoor recreation of all types has gained popularity, and campgrounds, deserts, dunes and public lands are seeing record numbers of visitors. The Department of Commerce’s Economic Analysis calculated that outdoor recreation generated $689 billion in gross output and 4.3 million jobs across America in 2020, an increase of more than 7 percent over 2019. OHVs account for more than $8 billion, and RVs accounted for $18+ billion.

Sales of UTVs, ATVs, motorcycles and other Carbon Recycling Transporters are increasing as more people enter the sport to get further away from negative CRTs. New UTVs are flying off of dealer floors (most don’t make it to the floors), and the value of used UTVs has increased exponentially as a result. And, there is one CRT that is especially beneficial, as more and more UTV enthusiasts venture into the American Outback.

The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) is a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations. Members work together to build awareness and understanding of the Recreational Trails Program, which returns federal gasoline taxes paid by off-highway recreationalists to the states for new trail development and existing trail maintenance. CRT was formed in 1992 following the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) to ensure that the National Recreational Trails Fund (now known as the Recreational Trails Program or RTP) established by that legislation received adequate funding.

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration administers the RTP program that provides funds to the states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund and represent a portion—less than one-third—of the motor fuel excise tax paid into the Trust Fund from non-highway recreational fuel use. Since 1993, more than 23,000 RTP projects have been funded nationwide and are documented in the RTP database: www.recreationaltrailsinfo
The RTP leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support from other sources for trails, encourages productive cooperation among trail users, and facilitates healthy outdoor recreation and economic activity across America.

For 2021, the CRT Awards, honoring former U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-6th-WI), selected 12 trail projects and a state trail program for outstanding use of RTP funds at their virtual ceremony. These trail projects and award categories were honored by the CRT:

• Doty Bridge Replacement (Michigan)—Multiple-Use Management/Corridor Sharing

• Prison Hill Recreation Area (Nevada)—Community Linkage

• Statewide Fourteeners Maintenance (Colorado)—Maintenance and Rehabilitation

• Neahkahnie Mountain to Manzanita Trail (Oregon)—Maintenance and Rehabilitation

• Chautauqua Bottoms Accessibility Upgrades (Illinois)—Accessibility Enhancement

• Griffith Peak Trail Rebuild (Nevada)—Public-Private Partnerships and Access to/Use of Public Lands

• Vermillion Falls Trail (Minnesota)—Construction and Design

• Climax Tunnel Rehabilitation (Pennsylvania)—Construction and Design

• Evans Creek (Washington)—Youth Conservation/Service Corps

• Sign Language Saturday (Arizona)—Education and Communication

• Bridge Buttress Trail (West Virginia)—Enhancement of Federal Lands

• Waterloo Valley Trail Bridge (New Jersey)—Engaging Public-Sector Partners

The CRT honored the Maryland State Recreational Trails Program as the 2021 Outstanding State Recreational Trails Program. State award winners are selected by the National Association of State Park Directors Awards Committee, because, in most states, the state park agency administers the RTP. Your state’s OHV program receives funds from your RTP gas-tax dollars, so all you carbon recycling throttle jockies should take full advantage of those OHV opportunities and explore new trails as much as possible. And, when you’re not on the trails, check out how you could get RTP funding for improving your trails through CRT. Win-win!

See you on the trails!

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