Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to improve access to America's National Forests through improved trail maintenance and preservation. The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2014 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.
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.
The bill also directs a study on utilizing fire crews for maintenance work during off-seasons and a study on permits for outfitters and guides to offset some fees through work on trail maintenance. In February, U.S. Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the same bill in the House.
"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. "This support of our tourism and outdoor recreation industries depends 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 those using them."
"America, and especially Wyoming, is home to a wealth of scenic beauty and natural treasures that just can't be found anywhere else," said Enzi. "With our country in tough fiscal times, it is important that we maintain access to our public land in a fiscally sound manner. This bill would make the most of our resources, maximize the use of volunteers, and improve access to our National Forests for generations to come."
Click here for a copy of the bill.
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