This proposed legislation would grant a tax credit to private landowners who provide conservation easements to certified National Scenic Trails – resulting in a low-cost incentive for willing landowners to donate easements that would increase trail connectivity.
Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) Reauthorization
FLTFA is a self-sustaining “land for land” program that generates its funds through sales of scattered BLM tracts authorized for disposal under the Federal Land Policy Management Act. Congress passed bipartisan legislation authorizing the program for 10 years in 2000.
Trails and the Federal Transportation Act
The Federal Surface Transportation Act is the nation’s “highways bill” and is reauthorized every 4-6 years (in theory at least…however politics can and do often play a role in the timeline which can result in extensions and shortened bill duration once a bill is passed). Since 1991, the transportation act has become much broader than just a “highways bill” however, funding trails, shared use paths and other related projects throughout the country.
Concerns Affecting the Hiking Experience
Funding for Trails
Funds for trails come from various sources, including federal appropriations, state funds, grants, and private donations. Regardless of funding source, most trails are founded on public-private partnerships and include some form of cost-sharing or leveraging, including volunteer support.
Mountain Biking on National Scenic Trails
In recent months there has been an upsurge of organized mountain biking groups attempting to gain access to sections of National Scenic Trails where mountain bikes are currently prohibited. These trails – or in some cases, sections of these trails – were neither designed nor built for mountain bike use. Due to concerns about safety, sustainability, and the displacement of hikers on trails with heavy bike usage, AHS believes that the sections of National Scenic Trails, where mountain bikes are currently prohibited, should remain closed to bikes.
Government Programs and Policies
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
LWCF balances the extraction and sale of federal natural resources – offshore oil and gas – with the permanent protection of important lands and waters and access to recreation for all Americans.
America’s Great Outdoors (AGO)
AGO is an effort to promote America’s connection to the outdoors and to bolster current conservation practices nationwide. The Initiative includes a series of listening and learning sessions are being held this summer and early fall around the country for engaging recreation and conservation community partners in developing a 21st Century conservation plan.
Travel Management Planning – Protecting the Hiking Experience
The hiking experience on America’s public lands will be profoundly affected by a series of “Travel Management Plans” currently underway by the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The agencies recently enacted policies intended to address the problem of increasing damage from unmanaged off-road vehicle (ORV) recreation, which includes all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes, and 4-wheel drive vehicles.