Today the House of Representatives approved H.R. 845, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act by Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN). The legislation would keep more trails across the nation open and accessible by expanding the use of volunteer and partner organizations and providing increased focus on a handful of priority areas around the country.
The legislation is co-sponsored by 87 members of the House of Representatives, as well as over 120 equestrian, sportsmen, conservation, motorized recreation, outfitters and guides, trails, and governmental organizations including the Western Governors’ Association, National Association of Counties, and America Outdoors Association
The following statement is from Paul Spitler, Director of Wilderness Policy at The Wilderness Society:
“We need to provide more opportunities for Americans to experience their great outdoors, and this bill will help do that. Keeping more trails open is a good thing for anyone who cares about our public lands.”
The following statement is from Ben Pendergrass, Senior Vice-President of Policy and Legislative Affairs at the American Horse Council:
“National forest and trails are important to thousands of recreational riders and are a vital component of the $32 billion recreational riding industry. This bill will help make certain that equestrians and all trail users are able to have access to and enjoy our national forests. The AHC hopes the Senate will move quickly to also approve this bill.”
The following statement is from Donald Saner, chairman of the Back Country Horsemen of America:
"We are overjoyed that Congress recognized the need to improve the condition of trails on our national forests. Public access to public lands provides many benefits, including enhanced tourism and a stronger local and national economy. This bill will encourage more volunteers and partners, like the Back Country Horsemen, to concentrate their energy toward reducing the trail maintenance backlog. We applaud Representatives Lummis and Walz and urge swift action in the Senate."
The following statement is from David Brown, Executive Director of America Outdoors Association, a trade association of America's outfitters and guides:
"With little more than 30 percent of Forest Service trails being maintained to standards, access to the backcountry is diminishing which will have a negative impact on rural economies. Passage of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act is an important step toward developing a comprehensive strategy to maintain access to our public lands and sustaining rural economies."
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 700,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org.
Paul Spitler, The Wilderness Society, (202) 360-1912, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Pendergrass, American Horse Council (202) 296-4031
Randy Rasmussen, Back Country Horsemen of America, (541) 602-0713