The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has joined “Friends of America’s Byways,” a coalition of 25 RV, outdoor recreation, travel and tourism organizations, in urging Congress not to repeal the popular National Scenic Byways program.
The United States Senate and House of Representatives are currently considering their own versions of legislation guiding a new national surface transportation policy, according to an RVIA news release.
- In the House version (H.R. 7), a five-year highway bill also known at the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a provision would entirely repeal the National Scenic Byways Program.
- The Senate legislation (S. 1813), a two-year bipartisan bill also known as “MAP-21,” does not repeal the byways program, but it would not continue the competitive grant program and the technical assistance program through the America’s Byways Resource Center.
In their lobbying effort, the “Friends of America’s Byways” are asking the House to remove language from Section 1601 of H.R. 7 that would repeal the National Scenic Byways Program while also urging the Senate to confirm that S. 1813 continues the byways program and that byways projects remain eligible for funds apportioned to the states.
The National Scenic Byways Program was created in 1991 with strong and bipartisan champions. Support came from the transportation, recreation, tourism, historic preservation, conservation and scenic communities. Although small in budget, the program has now attained a large and national base of supporters.
Secretaries of Transportation in each administration since the creation of the program have designated a total of 150 National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads that showcase the nation’s natural grandeur, history, and culture. The designation process has connected communities across the nation, prompting them to work together to tell stories and engage in voluntary conservation efforts which build local pride and create remarkable magnets for visitors, from this nation and around the world.
Especially noteworthy is that this network of byways – which pass through and connect with hundreds of national and state parks, wildlife refuges and national forests – has been identified as a core element in promoting international visitation and creating jobs by the new Brand USA corporation chartered by Congress just two years ago.
America’s Byways are key to the economic vitality of many, many U.S. regions. They tell America’s stories. They are vital to a successful national surface transportation program, delivering safe and enjoyable routes sought by many as alternatives to interstates.
For further information on this issue, contact American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall, who is heading up the “Friends of America’s Byways,” at [email protected] or (202) 682-9530.