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National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act

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  • National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act

    Received this email from American Hiking Society

    I am incredibly pleased to inform you that earlier this week, President Obama signed the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act into law. This is wonderful news for America's hikers and hiking trails and is the result of significant effort by American Hiking Society and our partners.

    In 2013, the Government Accountability Office conducted a study of U.S. Forest Service trails that revealed a $314 million backlog in trail maintenance and that only one fourth of all Forest Service trails met the agency's standards for trail maintenance. Having more miles of trails (158,000) than any other federal agency, the U.S. Forest Service trail maintenance backlog has been a significant concern to American Hiking Society and our members. This new law will help address the backlog, restore trails that are either closed or on the cusp of closing, and connect more Americans with their public lands.

    Specifically, this new law will help the Forest Service address the significant backlog of trail maintenance on Forest Service lands through a variety of stewardship measures. Chief among those measures, the law directs the U.S. Forest Service to develop a strategy that would increase the role of partners and volunteers in trail maintenance. Such a strategy would build on the already successful volunteer efforts that are on-going in National Forests and would increase Americans' connection to these spectacular natural resources.

    Additionally, the law requires the U.S. Forest Service to identify 9-15 priority landscapes for increased trail maintenance using volunteers where appropriate. This effort would ensure that those areas most in need would receive additional attention to address those needs.

    American Hiking Society is grateful to Senators Enzi (R-WY) and Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Lummis (R-WY) and Walz (D-MN) for introducing the legislation earlier this Congressional session.

    American Hiking is also profoundly thankful to our members and donors who enable our advocacy work on behalf of America's hiking trails and the lands that surround them.

    Peter Olsen
    Interim Executive Director