>>>"Erin McHugh" <emchugh@funoutdoors.com> Friday, December 05, 2003

9:37:04 AM >>>
Dear Byway Friends:

The Conference Report on H.R.2673, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2004, has now been released, providing details on appropriations for the Department of Transportation and the National Scenic Byways Program.
HR 2673 is expected to be adopted without amendments either early next week or in January 2004. Despite our collective efforts, nearly half of the total byways program money ($27.5 million) has been earmarked for specific state programs and projects ($13,250,000). The House of Representatives had originally earmarked all of the byways money, while the Senate had no earmarks. The conferees compromised, reducing the House earmarks by half. More importantly, this means is there has been earmarking of byways funds for three straight years and there is actually less money available for grants this year than in any of the first three years under TEA 21. That is definitely NOT the right direction for this program. Attached is a list of the earmarked projects included in H.R.2673.

So, where do we go from here? Reauthorization of the nation's surface transportation programs is now actively underway. This important legislation will direct highway spending for the next 6 years, and the byways community can and must help shape provisions affecting the National Scenic Byways Program. The Administration, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committees have each developed drafts of this legislation, and each proposes different levels of funding for scenic byways. DOT's SAFETEA proposal asks for $31.5M per year for a total of $189M. The Senate's draft (S. 1072) calls for $34M increasing to $39M and a total of $220M over six years. The House version (HR 3550) proposes $35M increasing to $110M for an impressive total of $435M for six years (see accompanying chart).

We fully support this trend toward higher funding. But the Scenic Byways Coalition wants to accomplish more than just increased funding. We are working on strategies that would protect byways grant money against earmarking, develop a system for identifying national priority projects and ensure the continuation of America's Byways Resources Center.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: The byways community must have both national advocates and an active grassroots constituency to succeed. If your byway is important to you, please (1) take action yourself; and (2) pass this message along to others in your byway organization. We suggest that you write to your local Congressman and the Senators that represent your state, as well as the Congressional leadership on this issue. Names and fax numbers for key contacts are attached. A sample letter can be found below. Key points to address in your letters and communications on reauthorization can be found in the attached document. Please fax or e-mail your letters to Congress, and fax or e-mail a copy to us - do not mail your letters.

We look forward to assisting your efforts in any way we can, and hope you will take the time to make your voice heard. All the documents can be found at http://www.funoutdoors.com/byways.

Sincerely,

Derrick A. Crandall
President
American Recreation Coalition
1225 New York Ave, NW, Suite 450
Washington, DC 20005
202-682-9530, FAX 202-682-9529
arc@funoutdoors.com

 

CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2673,
CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2004
House of Representatives

November 25, 2003
Within the funds available for the scenic byways program, funds are to be available for the following projects and activities:
 Amount  Project
 $60,000  City of Espanola El Camino Real Scenic Byway alignment, New Mexico
 $800,000  Enhancements to Route 6A Scenic Byway, Cape and Islands Rural Roads Initiative, Massachusetts
 $890,000  Flagler County Scenic and Historic A1A, Florida
 $75,000  Idaho National Scenic Byways
 $1,000,000  Kentucky Scenic Byways
 $1,000,000  Mason Creek Greenway, Virginia
 $2,000,000  New York State Scenic Byways Statewide project
 $100,000  Pioneer Historic Byway Interpretive Site Development, Idaho
 $600,000  Snoqualmie Point View Park, Washington
 $4,000,000  US 78 Bamberg Scenic Highway Project, South Carolina
 $1,285,000  Welcome Center off SR 410, Washington
 $440,000  Woodward Avenue--Developing the Byway Story, Michigan
 $1,000,000  Amherst County Greenway, Virginia
 $13,250,000  Total earmarked

Future of the National Scenic Byways Program: Comparison of Byways Coalition Recommendations with Legislation
  Topic Byways Coalition
Recommendation
 Administration Proposal
(SAFETEA)
 Senate (S. 1072)
(SAFETEA)
 House (HR 3550)(TEA-LU)
 Overall $     $247 billion/6 years   $311-325 billion/6 years   $375
billion/6 years
 Funding  “A substantial increase” – ARC
suggests $57 million for 2004 and growth thereafter to a funding level of $82 for FY 2009
 $31.5M per year for a total of $189M $34M increasing to $39M and a total of $220M over six years  $35M increasing to
$110M for a total of $435M for six years

 Earmarking

“Poison Pill”

 Any earmarked funds should
be counted as a portion of any
Minimum Allocation payments
to a state, while merit-based
awards should be excluded
from this computation
 No provision  No provision  No provision
 Research,
technical
assistance
 America’s Byways Resources
Center, created under TEA-21
to provide technical assistance
to designated byways and
state byways programs,
should be reauthorized and
appropriately funded
Section 1605(b) Clarifies Secretary authority to use program funds for these purposes. No limit. Mentions byways resource center in Duluth, MN Similar provision included in
Section 1604(b). No reference to byways resource center
Uncertain – no clear
reference
 Advisory
committee
 A National Scenic Byways
Advisory Council should be
established in FY05 to
develop recommendations
regarding the future of the
program. Recommendations
should be submitted to the
Secretary of Transportation
and the Congress
 No provision  No provision  No provision
 Marketing
effort
 National scenic byways
marketing program should be
established by the Federal
Highway Administration,
based upon the recreational
boating and fishing outreach
program administered by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Section 1605(a) recognition of America’s Byways as umbrella for promoting National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads Similar provision included in
Section 1604(a)
 No provision
 Link to other
federal scenic
byway
programs
 (1) FHWA should provide
technical assistance and other
support to federal land management agencies with
scenic byways programs and
(2) that these federal agencies
be eligible for direct, merit based
grants for byways projects
 No provision  No provision  No provision
 Future
designations
 National designation of All-
American Roads and national
scenic byways should continue on a 12- to 18-month cycle through FY 2009
 No provision  No provision  No provision

ARC: December 2, 2003

REAUTHORIZATION CONTACTS

U.S. House of Representatives
Address for all: U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Don Young
Chairman, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Fax 202-225-0425
don.young@mail.house.gov

The Honorable James Oberstar
Ranking Minority Member
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Fax 202-225-0699

The Honorable Thomas E. Petri
Chairman, Highways, Transit and Pipelines Subcommittee
Fax 202-225-2356

The Honorable William O. Lipinski
Ranking Minority Member
House Subcommittee on Highways, Transit and Pipelines

United States Senate
Address for all: United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Hon. James M. Inhofe, Chairman
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Fax 202-202-228-0380

The Hon. James Jeffords
Ranking Member
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Fax 202-228-0776

The Hon. John Warner
Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Fax 202-224-6295

The Hon. Harry Reid
Ranking Minority, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
202-224-7327

KEY POINTS FOR COMMUNICATIONS ABOUT REAUTHORIZATION:

The nation now has a system of nearly one hundred national scenic byways and All-American Roads. These routes play a wonderful role in telling our nation's stories to millions of travelers each year. We ask for several important revisions to the byways program:

1) The National Scenic Byways Program includes a small, merit-based grant program designed to create replicable examples of top scenic byways projects, with lessons learned used in projects funded under other surface transportation funding. Qualifying applications for these grants greatly exceed available funds of some $25 million annually. We recommend a significant increase in funding for these grants. We also wish to see the grant program modified to include development of national priorities which would be reflected in grant awards.

2) We are very disturbed that a substantial portion of the available scenic byways funding was earmarked in the appropriations process for specific projects for FY02, FY03 and FY04. We believe that any earmarked funds should be counted as a portion of any Minimum Allocation payments to a state, while merit-based awards should continue to be excluded from this computation.

3) The America's Byways Resources Center, created under TEA-21 to provide technical assistance to designated byways and state byways programs, has provided invaluable support and should be specifically reauthorized and appropriately funded, as under TEA-21, with funding supplemental the grant program moneys.

4) National designation of All-American Roads and national scenic byways should continue on a 12- to 24-month cycle through FY 2009.

5) Several federal land-management agencies have byways programs. We believe that these routes are vital components of a national scenic byways program and recommend: (a) that FHWA provide technical assistance and other support to these programs and (b) that these federal agencies be eligible for direct, merit-based grants for byways projects.

6) A national scenic byways marketing program should be established by the Federal Highway Administration, based upon the recreational boating and fishing outreach program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

7) A new scenic byways advisory committee should be created to oversee the development of national priorities for the byway program, including grant moneys, and to recommend to the Secretary criteria and processes for the grant program.

Sample Letter on Reauthorization

December 20003

The Honorable Don Young, Chairman

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Young:

In December 1991, legislation creating the National Scenic Byways Program was enacted. The (name of byway) was designated in (year), and is one of nearly one hundred national scenic byways and All-American Roads specially chosen under this program. These routes play a wonderful role in telling our nation’s stories to millions of travelers each year. We are delighted that the Administration has proposed continuation and expansion of the National Scenic Byways Program in its legislative proposal labeled SAFETEA, and we applaud the efforts of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to do the same as the nation’s surface transportation programs are reauthorized.

We ask for several important revisions to the reauthorization proposals now under consideration regarding byways:

1) The National Scenic Byways Program includes a small, merit-based grant program designed to create replicable examples of top scenic byways projects, with lessons learned used in projects funded under other surface transportation funding. Qualifying applications for these grants greatly exceed available funds of some $25 million annually. We recommend a significant increase in funding for these grants. We also wish to see the grant program modified to include development of national priorities which would be reflected in grant awards.

2) In FY 2002, for the first time, a substantial portion of the available scenic byways funding was earmarked in the appropriations process for specific projects, including some projects which may not have qualified under the program guidelines. A similar earmarking process limited FY 2003 funding for awards on a merit basis. We believe that any earmarked funds should be counted as a portion of any Minimum Allocation payments to a state, while merit-based awards should continue to be excluded from this computation.

3) The America’s Byways Resources Center, created under TEA-21 to provide technical assistance to designated byways and state byways programs, has provided invaluable support and should be specifically reauthorized and appropriately funded, as under TEA-21, with funding supplemental the grant program moneys.

4) National designation of All-American Roads and national scenic byways should continue on a 12- to 24-month cycle through FY 2009.

5) Several federal land-management agencies have byways programs. We believe that these routes are vital components of a national scenic byways program and recommend: (a) that FHWA provide technical assistance and other support to these programs and (b) that these federal agencies be eligible for

direct, merit-based grants for byways projects.

6) A national scenic byways marketing program should be established by the Federal Highway Administration, based upon the recreational boating and fishing outreach program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

7) A new scenic byways advisory committee should be created to oversee the development of national priorities for the byway program, including grant moneys, and to recommend to the Secretary criteria and processes for the grant program.

With your support and assistance, the National Scenic Byways Program will continue to serve the nation well, helping Americans understand our history and our land better and providing an important new source of pride and economic vitality to thousands of communities. Information on currrently-designated byways – including those in your state – is available at www.byways.org. Thank you for your interest and support.

Sincerely,

(your name)

(organization)