Established by Bennet-led legislation, Forest Service designates Colorado Fourteeners and Continental Divide Trail as High Priority Areas
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today applauded the U.S Forest Service's selection of two high priority areas for trail maintenance in Colorado: the Colorado Fourteeners and Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. These trails are among 15 areas designated as high priority following the enactment of the Bennet-led National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act.
"People from all over the world travel to Colorado to hike fourteeners and explore some of the best trails in the country," Bennet said. "We applaud the Forest Service for working with local stakeholders to select our state's popular peaks as areas to increase trail maintenance. A renewed focus on maintenance will improve public safety and protect high-alpine resources-both critical to the future of these trails."
The bipartisan National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016, introduced by Bennet and passed in the 114th Congress, aims to make better use of existing resources and increase the role of volunteers in maintaining National Forest System trails. Under the legislation, the Forest Service was required to designate up to 15 high priority areas for increased trail maintenance. Last year, the Forest Service solicited proposals for priority areas and considered public comment from local stakeholders before making its recommendation.
Colorado Fourteeners: Each year, hundreds of thousands of hikers trek along over 200 miles of trail to access Colorado's mountains that are higher than 14,000 feet. The Forest Service manages 48 of the 54 fourteeners. The increase of visitors in recent years has caused degradation of trails and fragile high-alpine ecosystems, outpacing the Forest Service's ability to maintain these trails and protect natural resources. Colorado's outdoor stewardship organizations have joined forces to increase the pace and scale of trail improvements and ecological restoration.
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail: The trail's 3,100 continuous miles follows the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada, including more than 1,900 miles of trails across 20 national forests. The trail runs a diverse route with some sections in designated wilderness areas and others running through towns, providing those communities with the opportunity to boost the local economy with tourism dollars.