The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) announced today that Kansas’ recreational trails program will receive $2 million under the federal Transportation Bill passed by Congress this summer.
“One of our highest priorities is to enhance ecotourism in Kansas, which includes developing a good trail system,” said Robin Jennison, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), which manages the trails program. “This level of funding will allow us to make great strides in the number and quality of trails across our state.”
The federal dollars go first to KDOT, which will then transfer an allocation to KDWPT for the trails program. MAP-21, the federal Transportation Program, had specified $1.3 million for the trails program, but a decision was made to increase the allocation in accordance with new flexibility provisions in the program.
“KDOT and KDWPT worked to come up with a way to prioritize the amount of money that should be applied to recreational trails and determined that $2 million is the appropriate level,” said Transportation Secretary Mike King. “This will help move ecotourism forward in Kansas.”
Kansas has more than 650 trails totaling more than 2,100 miles. KDWPT directly manages trails located on state park, wildlife area, or state fishing lake properties. Others are managed by local governments or non-governmental organizations. To locate trails, go online to maps.kansasgis.org/recfinder/public/index.cfm.
Earlier this month, Kansas exercised a provision in the federal Transportation Bill to “opt out” of the recreational trails program. Exercising that provision simply gave the state maximum flexibility to prioritize the funding. It didn’t eliminate state support for the recreational trails program, which has received about $1.3 million annually in recent years. To have that flexibility option, the state had to “opt out” by Sept. 1.
KDWPT and KDOT are awaiting final guidance from the Federal Highway Administration regarding eligible types of trail projects and procedures for administering the trail funds. As a result, no decisions have been made about specific projects or project funding.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism