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What are they thinking?
Effort to defund trail spending ill-advised
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 There is finally a groundswell of support locally for increased biking and walking opportunities. The efforts of Be Well Barton County, Barton County and the cities of Claflin, Ellinwood, Great Bend and Hoisington are finally coming to fruition as a Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan is being developed.

There is the walking school bus and there are bike signs. The number of local residents pedaling and walking is on the rise.

But wait.

If it hasn’t already, the U.S. House of Representatives will begin voting on the transportation bill soon. But three damaging amendments have been filed to eliminate funding for trails, walking and biking programs — two from Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia and one from Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida.

Carter’s amendment number 69 is not targeting luxurious spending. If it passes, it won’t cut a dollar of spending, but will prevent states and localities from choosing to invest any of their flexible Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funds on trails, walking or biking. In addition, Carter amendment  number 68 would make all walking and biking funds in urban areas vulnerable to transfers for other uses.

Even worse, amendments 69 by Carter and 158 by Yoho would eliminate the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). For over 20 years this program has used a portion of the fuel taxes from off-road trail vehicles to benefit all types of trails users.

These programs help build the trails, protected bikeways, safe routes to schools, pathways and more that help people like you and me to stay healthy and get to work, to school, and around our communities. 

These are giant steps backwards.

Should these pass, they would be damaging to work at the national, state and local level aimed at healthier, more active lifestyles. They would be devastating.

These trails are about more than healthy bodies, they are about healthy communities. It is up to us to stand up and fight for these opportunities.

Dale Hogg