Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Railbanking is the practice of preserving railroad rights-of-way by using them as multi-use trails . In the United States, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is a nonprofit organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., which promotes railbanking. The term rails-to-trails has become a generic term for railbanking, and these trails are often called rail trails.
Many railroads are not built on land that is actually owned by the railroad company, but is simply an easement. The terms of the easement often require that the land continue to be used for transportation, or it will revert to the property owner; railbanking often satisfies these conditions, keeping the corridor around if conditions ever promote relaying rails.
RTC was founded in 1986 and has currently more than 100,000 members. The organization does not build trails, but promotes policy at the national and state levels to create the conditions that make trail building possible by local groups. RTC helps to keep the federal Transportation Enhancements program, which is the largest source of funding for trail development.
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