Washington Trails Town Hall

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Trails Planning

Trails have long been important part of outdoor recreation in Washington State. Over the years, new kinds of trail users have appeared. Fifty years ago, there were virtually no off-road vehicles or bicycles used on recreational trails. Today they are common.

The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is updating its 1991 Washington State Trails Plan.  This update is meant to set priorities for trails funding and to recommend improvements for recreational trail opportunities in Washington.

The 2013 Washington State Trails Plan will:

  1. Assess trails supply and demand – Use data collected from surveys of trail users and providers and analyze issues related to supply and demand.

  2. Assess trails needs – Assess statewide trail needs relative to the key issues below, and identify emerging issues. Analyze how each key issue contributes to the recreational opportunities, mobility, and health of Washington State residents.

  3. Key issues – Analyze key issues including challenges to and opportunities for establishing and maintaining regional connecting trails and a state trail network, access to trails, urban trails, water trails, capacity, economics and funding, maintenance, multiple-use management, and other issues.

  4. Implementation – Identify strategies for meeting trail needs for the next 5 years. Identify how the plan will help establish funding priorities for trail projects.

To complete this scope of work input from the public, a Trails Plan Advisory Group, and others will be used to create a draft 2013 Washington State Trails Plan for submission to the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board for approval in November 2013.


NOVA Planning

Through the years, the NOVA Program Act (RCW 46.09) has been updated several times.  In 1978 it was modified to allow the funding of education-enforcement programs.  In 1986 it was updated to provide funding for nonmotorized trail activities.  In 2004 changes included:

  • Revised definitions

  • Revised environmental review language

  • Revised advisory committee membership and duties

  • Revised fund distributions

  • Revised provisions for the education-enforcement category.

  • Creation of the Nonhighway Road funding category.

In 2005 the Recreation and Conservation Office developed a NOVA Plan to reflect these 2004 legislative changes.

The purpose of the current update to the NOVA Plan is to set policies to guide expenditures under the NOVA Act.  The NOVA program provides funding to local, state, tribal, and federal agencies so that they may acquire land, plan, build, and maintain facilities, and manage off-road vehicle, nonmotorized, and nonhighway road recreation opportunities.

The NOVA Plan primarily focuses on the provision of opportunities for:

  • Nonhighway road recreationists – assisting activities on or closely related to such roads.

  • Nonmotorized recreationists – assisting activities related to nonmotorized backcountry trail use accessed via a nonhighway road.

  • ORV recreationists – assisting activities related to motorized backcountry trail and competition track activities.

NOVA funds originate in large part from a refund of a portion of the state fuel tax paid by NOVA recreationists.  The objectives for this project are to:

  • Collect input from the primary NOVA Plan audiences: the Recreation and Conservation Office, the NOVA Advisory Committee, agencies that receive NOVA funds, recreationists, and others interested in the program

  • Assess issues related to the NOVA Program

  • Provide policy guidance on the use of NOVA funds

  • Make recommendations about program direction and implementation