From: Erin McHugh [mailto:emchugh@funoutdoors.com]
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2003 10:10 AM
To: emchugh@funoutdoors.com
Subject: Scenic Byways Earmarking

Dear Friends of Byways:

On Thursday, October 23, the U.S. Senate passed its amended version of HR 2989, the FY04 Transportation appropriations bill. The Senate has also requested a conference committee be appointed to resolve differences in the House and Senate passed versions and has appointed its conferees:

Republicans: Shelby (AL); Specter (PA); Bond (MO); Bennett (UT); Campbell (CO); Hutchison (TX); DeWine (OH); Brownback (KS); Stevens (AK).

Democrats: Murray (WA); Byrd (WV); Mikulski (MD); Reid (NV); Kohl (WI); Durbin (IL); Dorgan (ND); Inouye (HI).

House conferees will be named shortly, but will include:

Republicans: Istook (OK); Wolf (VA); Tiahrt (KS); and Bill Young (FL)

Democrats: Olver (MA); Pastor (AZ); and Obey (WI)

Action on the conference committee will need to be swift. The CR – Continuing Resolution – funding Transportation and many other federal departments expires on October 31, and unless the conference committee is making good progress, Transportation’s FY04 budget may become part of a large omnibus measure based on last year’s spending.

The most important difference between the two bills for byways advocates is how the funding for the National Scenic Byways Program is treated. The House version earmarks all scenic byways funding, leaving none for merit-based funding pending applications. The Senate bill provides full funding for the National Scenic Byways Program and merit grant funding, or a total of $27.5 million without any earmarked projects.

The byways community must weigh in to support the Senate version of this legislation. Even if you have done written before, even if you are not counting on grant $$ in FY04, and even if your Senators and Representatives are not key players on the Conference Committee, you should take the time to contact them to appeal for support of the Senate version of HR 2989, with no byways earmarks.

Why is this so important? Full earmarking sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the byways grant program, one that would be difficult to reverse in future appropriations bills. Secondly, if the Congress sees an activated, energized byways community eager to support the National Scenic Byways Program, we are more likely to see overall gains for the program during the reauthorization process now underway. Including an increase in funding.

Many of you have taken the time to write thoughtful letters over the past few months. Thank you for your past efforts. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE: THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER. FURTHER ACTION IS ESSENTIAL.

Your letters can and should be short. But they need to be strong and include a few facts. If you have received a grant in the past under the merit selection process, state that fact. Tell your elected officials that there are more than $80 million in pending applications – developed at the local level through partnerships – and that the House action would deny funding to every one of these applications! And by all means, thank your Senators for their support!

We encourage you to look at samples of the letters which have been written by byways advocates – they will be posted at our website, www.funoutdoors.com under “Scenic Byways” on the lefthand column. We will also post a list of all members of the Conference Committee for HR 2989 as soon as it becomes available.

Remember to fax or e-mail your comments to Capitol Hill offices instead of mailing letters. Also, please continue to forward to us copies of your correspondence. E-mail to mseibert@funoutdoors.com or fax to 202-682-9529.

Thanks!!!

Mary Beth Seibert & Derrick Crandall

American Recreation Coalition

202-682-9530

Senator Wayne Allard- http://allard.senate.gov/contactme/
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell- http://campbell.senate.gov/email.htm
Congressman Scott McInnis- http://www.house.gov/htbin/wrep_findrep
Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave- http://wwwa.house.gov/musgrave/108th%20Web/email_marilyn.htm
Congressman Don Young- http://www.house.gov/donyoung/opinion_form.htm

 

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