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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 31, 2009 at 6:00 AM

Trail funding

Fund diversion affects all outdoor enthusiasts

The recent article on the state Legislature’s diversion of funds from the Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities (NOVA) account is right in calling attention to the desperate plight of trails managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Washington Department of Natural Resources [“Many of trail systems in Wash. may be lost,” seattletimes.com, Local News, May 23]. But it was wrong in characterizing the NOVA program as being exclusively funded by off-road vehicle (ORV) users.

The NOVA program is a refund of taxes paid on gas used on roads the state does not maintain, such as logging roads that lead to hiking trailheads or the paved roads in national parks. Grants from the NOVA program are allocated according to the rate of contribution of the different user groups, including ORV riders, equestrians, hikers and families out for a picnic.

The NOVA program benefits hundreds of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, from all across the state. By implying that the program is the domain of a limited group, we miss the opportunity to do what is needed most to fix this problem — to come together as a diverse community of recreation users and insist that the Legislature restore the NOVA program to its full account.

— Elizabeth Lunney, executive director, Washington Trails Association, Seattle

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