More than 75 advocates from all across the country came to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues affecting hiking trails as well as to meet with Members of Congress and land management agency officials during 2016’s Hike the Hill® in early February. Hike the Hill®, an annual event, is a joint effort of American Hiking Society and the Partnership for the National Trails System.
Hike the Hill® kicked off with briefings from experts on various pieces of legislation and issues affecting the trails community as well as briefings from federal agency partners about various trail topics. This was followed by a week of meetings with agency partners such as the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In between such agency meetings, the advocates had long days visiting hundreds of Congressional offices to advocate on behalf of trails and trail lands.
Among the issues the advocates discussed with their Members of Congress were the Land & Water Conservation Fund, the National Scenic Trails Parity Act, wildfire disaster funding, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, the North Country Trail Route Adjustment Act, and others. It was a busy week, indeed.
One of the highlights of the week was a welcome by one of the co-chairs of the House Trails Caucus, Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Mr. Blumenauer charged the advocates with highlighting the millions of volunteer hours put towards trails as well as advocating on behalf of permanent reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund. In addition to Congressman Blumenauer, legislative staff from Reps. Upton, Nolan, and Walz discussed current legislative issues and strategies with the attendees.
American Hiking Society thanks all who attended and worked so diligently to help improve hiking trails all across America and to ensure that future generations will still have wonderful places to enjoy a nice walk with nature.