Walz, Lummis Trail Bill Passes Committee Unanimously
Washington, D.C.-Today H.R. 845, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, sponsored by U.S. Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN) passed the U.S. House Agriculture Committee unanimously.
“The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act will stretch taxpayer dollars during these tight fiscal times, to make sure we maximize use of all our existing resources,” said Rep. Lummis. “Refocusing on volunteers and partners will help the Forest Service make real progress on the backlog and open up these trails to public access. The bill also looks into utilizing fire crews during the off season and letting outfitters work off some of their fees. We need to continue exploring the different ways we can clean up our trails and make progress on the $500 million trail maintenance backlog. Thanks to Representative Walz’s help getting it through the committee process, the bill is now ready for consideration on the House floor.”
“From hikers to bikers, outdoor enthusiasts across the country utilize 157,000 miles of National Forest System trails every day for exercise, relaxation, and exploration. Though public use remains high, close to two-thirds of these trails don’t receive any maintenance whatsoever because our Forest Service simply lacks the resources to keep up,” said Rep. Walz, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “I am proud the legislation Representative Lummis and I have worked on passed out of the Agriculture Committee today. Protecting our public lands for future generations while increasing access to the great outdoors is our responsibility, and this bill is a step in the right direction.”
In June of 2013, the Government Accountability Office released a report that outlined the immense challenges to maintaining the 157,000 miles of trails in the Forest Service trail system and wilderness areas. The Forest Service is only able to maintain about one quarter of the total miles of trails used for hiking, biking, and other activities while close to two-thirds of the trails receive no maintenance at all.
The GAO report recognized the importance of volunteers for trail maintenance and recommended taking steps to improve management of volunteers. The Lummis-Walz bill would improve the use of existing resources and require the Forest Service to develop a national strategy to maximize use of volunteers and partners to improve trail maintenance.