Washington, D.C. – Congress sent a bill this week to President Obama that would improve access to America’s National Forests through better trail maintenance and preservation.
The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act would make better use of existing resources within the Forest Service to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in maintaining the usability and sustainability of the National Forest’s trail system.
Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. were the prime sponsors in the Senate and Representatives Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., in the House. U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., was a cosponsor of this bill. Legislators in both houses passed the bipartisan bill unanimously.
“Millions of people every year come to Colorado for some of the best hiking, scenery, and wildlife viewing that the country has to offer,” Bennet said. “Our tourism and outdoor recreation industries depend on a well-maintained trail system throughout our national forests. This bill will help the Forest Service do more with less by increasing the use of volunteers to ensure our trails are accessible and safe for all of us to use.”
The Forest Service currently maintains only one-quarter of the 158,000 miles of National Forest trails that offer hiking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain bicycling, motorized vehicles, and other outdoor activities. The act would expand the number of trails that could be maintained by requiring a national strategy to maximize the use of volunteers and partners while addressing liability concerns that restrict outside groups and individuals working on the trails.”