IDPR administers the license plate funds through their existing grant review and approval process established for grants made from the Federal “Recreational Trail Program” fund. The Recreational Trails Program of 1998 establishes a program for allocating Federal funds to the States for recreational trails and trail-related projects. Instead of creating a new grant review and approval process, IDPR opted to use the same process, forms and timelines that exist for RTP grants.
The RTP grant process is explained on IDPR’s website here: http://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/about-parks-recreation under the tab “Grants and Funding.” To receive a grant through the RTP process for license plate funds, you must complete and submit a grant application no later than the last Friday in January of each year. To receive a grant from the license plate fund, your project must have a connection to mountain biking in Idaho.
Past recipients of grants from the license plate fund include the Central Idaho Mountain Biking Association, who received a nearly $1,000 grant for the purchase of trail building tools and equipment, and the City of Pocatello, who was awarded an $11,000 grant to install trail signage in the City Creek Management Area. The tools CIMBA purchased resulted in the construction of miles of new and improved trails, and the new signs in the City Creek area help all trail users to better navigate the trails.
In 2009, a group of Boise mountain bikers decided to create a new specialty vehicle license plate to fund projects and to build and maintain existing recreational trails. While volunteer labor for trail building and maintenance is readily available, the funds for tools and construction materials are not. It can cost as much as $10,000 per mile to machine-build a trail, and hand-built trails can cost as much as $2000 to $3000 per mile. So, the idea was to create a self-sustaining fund for trail maintenance and improvement through sales of the plate.
In Idaho, creating a new specialty plate literally requires an “act of Congress.” Well, not really “Congress” (as in the United States Congress), but each specialty plate program requires that the Idaho Legislature pass a bill and the Governor of the State sign that bill into law. The mountain bike plate law can be found at Idaho Code 49-419E. The process includes drafting a bill, finding a legislative sponsor (our sponsor in the House was Rep. Brian Cronin of Boise, and in the Senate it was Sen. Chuck Winder, Eagle), getting the bill through Transportation Committees of both the House and Senate, getting the bill passed by the full House and Senate and making sure that the Governor signs the bill. After that, the plate goes through a design process, which must be approved by ITD. Once the final design is approved, it goes on sale the following January 1.
The idea was generated by a group whose primary recreational interest is mountain biking. So, it seemed logical to put a mountain biker on the plate, even though the trail fund benefits all trail users. Also, no other state in the country has a mountain biker plate, making ours unique. Another purposes of the plate is to advertise Idaho as a mountain biking tourism destination. Study after study shows that mountain bike tourism creates a positive economic impact on a local economy near great trails. (Just look at Fruita!)
The group working on the project went through many photos of riders, trying to select one that embodied the general characteristics of the “average” Idaho mountain biker, and would actually fit the allocated space on the plate. After an extensive review process, the image on the plate was choosen.
The initial purchase of a non-personalized plate is $35, plus your vehicle’s registration fee. Each time you renew the plate, it will cost $25 in addition to your renewal fee. (If you want to personalize the plate, you have to add another $25 onto the purchase cost and another $15 on your renewal.)
In Idaho, as in most states, specialty vehicle plates add additional fees to vehicle registrations. That extra fee for every specialty plate has two components – part goes to the Idaho Transportation Department to offset their labor cost to sell the plate, while the other usually goes to a state agency or non-profit organization to be used for a designated purpose. For example, funds from the sale of the Idaho “snowskier” plate go to the Idaho Department of Commerce to pay for advertising of Idaho’s ski resorts. (No, it doesn’t go to your local ski area for improvements.) Sales of the three Idaho “wildlife” plates go to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to pay for their non-game wildlife programs like birdwatching. Sales of other plates, like the snowmobile plate and the rafting plate, go to non-profit associations to be used for charitable and other purposes that support those groups.
By law, $25 of the purchase price and $12 of the renewal fee is placed into a dedicated Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation fund. (The other $13 from purchase and renewal go to the Idaho Transportation Department to administer plate sales, just like any other specialty plate.) The money that goes to IDPR can only be used for the creation, maintenance and improvement of recreational trails in Idaho, but only if those trails are open to mountain biking. So, while the plate has a mountain biker on it, the funds will benefit all trail users – not just mountain bikers.
See the section entitled "Grants, funding, and our trails!" above for a description of the grant process.
If you want a non-personalized plate, you have to visit your local county motor vehicle office. If you want to order a personalized plate or a sample plate, you can do that on the Idaho Transportation Department’s website here.
No, you can change your license plate at any time, and your registration cost will be prorated. For instance, if your registration doesn’t expire until July, but you want to order a plate in January, you’ll only have to pay ½ of the year’s registration fee, since you’ve already paid through July. Then, your registration will expire the following January. So, no need to wait.
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