June 7, 2017 – The Administration recently released its budget for fiscal year 2018 (October 2017 – September 2018) revealing what are nothing less than catastrophic cuts to programs that directly impact trails and the places where Americans hike. The proposed budget for trails and the federal agencies that manage and maintain trails on federal lands fails to provide for even the most basic necessities to maintain and manage these critical recreation resources.
In addition to being used by hikers, bikers, and equestrians, trails are the gateway to nearly every other facet of outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, and camping. A failure to maintain and manage our nation’s trails directly impacts park visitation, visitor safety, the ability for people to enjoy healthy outdoor recreation, and our nation’s economy.
This is also about more than just trails: it’s about access to public lands. Getting out and enjoying public lands and actually setting foot upon them. For without trails the public would only get to enjoy their public lands by viewing them through the windshield of their vehicle. Real access to public lands requires access to trails.
Broadly, the Administration’s budget undoes decades of work by agencies, volunteers, and nonprofit organizations and fails to leverage the millions of dollars donated financially and through volunteer labor each year. Additionally, this budget would be a direct existential threat to the 1.8 million American jobs that depend directly on trails and the outdoor recreational activities that take place on trails. This isn’t hyperbole. This is a fact.
4 Ways Your Trails Would Suffer
1. Funding for U.S. Forest Service trail maintenance would be cut by a whopping 84%. This could result in unsafe and closed trails as well as completely decommissioning some trails.
2. Volunteers and nonprofit organizations would not have the funding they need to maintain trails such as the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails.
3. According to the Bureau of Land Management, their budget cuts would “affect visitor services, including maintenance and care of trails and trailheads, grounds maintenance, campground access, river and trail access and interpretive resources.”
4. The almost 85% cut to the Land & Water Conservation Fund would put hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians in harm’s way as they use roads with fast-moving motorized vehicles to bridge the gaps in trails.
American Hiking Society is strongly pushing back against draconian cuts where they just don’t make sense, threatening American jobs and the loss of outdoor recreation opportunities for the American public.
How you can help right now: contact your Senators and Representative today. Tell them why trails and outdoor recreation are important to you, especially the ones you most enjoy, so that they can reverse these drastic budget cuts. Thank you for taking action!