Advocacy

Working with Congress and Federal agencies to protect the places you love to hike.

Since 1976, American Hiking has worked with Congress, federal agencies, and many recreation and conservation partners on policy issues and legislation to ensure funding for trails, preservation of natural areas, and protection of the hiking experience.

Advocacy News

NEW National Recreation Trails Announced Ahead of National Trails Day

June, 2014 – On June 6, 2014, Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, designated 21 trails as National Recreational Trails (NRTs). These trails were designated as National Recreation Trails because they are exemplary trails of local and regional significance. Through designation, these trails are recognized as part of America’s national system of trails. Benefits of…

Trails Connect! Interagency Dialogue with U.S. Forest Service

June, 2014 – Our national system of trails helps connect people with their natural and culture heritage and contributes to the American identity. Trails provide a natural portal for Americans of all walks of life which help us rebuild the all-important “nature-human connection” and promote healthy lifestyles. In honor of National Trails Day®, American Hiking…

Bipartisan support for Great Outdoors Month

May, 2014 – The President and nearly all US governors agree – America has some truly unique natural landscapes that provide US citizens with incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation.  That’s why the President of the United States and many of our elected officials have declared June as Great Outdoors Month.  President George W. Bush issued the first Presidential…

Recreational Trails Program Update

May, 2014 – As a brief background, the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a program administered by the US Federal Highway Administration that provides partial funding to help build and maintain recreational trails. Funding is derived from a portion of the federal taxes on the sale of fuels used for non-highway recreation such as the…

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Designated a National Monument

May, 2014 – On Wednesday, May 21, 2014, President Obama signed a proclamation designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks a National Monument. This action will permanently protect nearly 500,000 acres in south-central New Mexico. The new national monument won’t just preserve these natural lands for future generations, it will also help grow the economy and create jobs.…

Wildfire Disaster Funding Act

May, 2014 – Identical bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3992) and the Senate (S. 1875) that seek to alleviate the almost annual challenge of funding wildfire suppression. Currently, when the fire suppression budgets at the US Department of the Interior (DOI) and the US Forest Service (USFS) are exhausted, the…

Hiking and Foot Trail Issues

American Hiking works on a range of issues that affect hiking and foot trails. The links below include information about a variety of policies, bills, and issues that have immediate or significant impacts on trails and the hiking experience. Do you have questions or suggestions about issues that affect the hiking experience? Email us!

Legislation

House Trails Caucus
The mission of the bipartisan House Trails Caucus is to provide a forum for interested members of Congress to work together for the creation and conservation of our natural landscape and recreation activities through the preservation of trails.

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.

Wildfire Disaster Funding Act
Under this legislation, years in which additional funding for fire fighting is required, the funding request would be treated similarly to those of other natural disasters, such as the budget request mechanisms used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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.

Transportation Act & Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

RTP utilizing a “user-pay/user-benefit” model, uses just a small portion of the taxes from the sale of fuel purchased by nonhighway trail users such as off road vehicles and snowmobiles. These funds are used for all sorts of trail projects: projects that benefit not just motorized trail users but also hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. These RTP funds are distributed to the states which subsequently awards grants for various trail projects.

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.

Policy Position Statements

Electric Bicycle Position Statement

Background In the belief that in the near future electric bicycles (eBikes), particularly electric mountain bikes intended for trail use, may become more readily available to the public and more common on the trail, American Hiking Society seeks to clarify the organization’s position on this topic. “Low-speed electric bicycles” are defined by federal law (15…

Mountain Bike Position Statement

Overview Hiking trails, or foot-only trails, are pathways developed and managed for quiet, slow travel and the enjoyment of nature away from mechanical conveyances, including bicycles. American Hiking Society is dedicated to the preservation and protection of foot-only trails as an important resource for the hiking public. Multi-purpose trails, which address a variety of recreation…

Wilderness Position Statement

Overview The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.”  The NWPS currently consists of 757 congressionally designated wilderness areas, covering more than 109.5 million acres, managed by the USDA Forest Service and…

Recreation Fee Policy 

Overview As the national voice for America’s hikers, American Hiking Society promotes and protects foot trails and the hiking experience. American Hiking Society is committed to working cooperatively with Congress, land management agencies, and our members to address the proper role and application of user fees. Inherent in this spirit of cooperation is the position…

Motorized Recreation – Off-Road Vehicle Position Statement

Background The increased popularity of off-road vehicles1 (ORVs) in recent decades has coincided with technological advances enabling these machines to penetrate deeper into the backcountry than ever before.  High-powered engines driving aggressive knobby tires can quickly remove vegetation cover and erode soils along trails, primitive roads, and unauthorized, visitor-created routes.  Research has demonstrated these motorized…

Hiking Trails Position Statement

Philosophy Hiking has long been an important outdoor activity, whether as a means of exploration, exercise or reflection. The act of setting foot down a path through natural areas provides an unparalleled opportunity to build the human spirit, improve physical fitness, and increase environmental awareness. Hiking offers all Americans a healthy, enjoyable and relatively simple…

Hike the Hill®

Trail advocates from across the nation gather in Washington, DC, each year,  to learn, to network, and to urge Congress to protect trails and the hiking experience at American Hiking Society’s Hike the Hill.

Come join us in the nation’s capital and learn about current trails issues, meet with federal partners, and perhaps spend some time with your Member of Congress sharing your perspective on trails bills. (Not to worry – we’ll provide background info for you!)

Come join us as we learn, network, and meet with leaders who affect the trails we’re building and maintaining.

Thank you for participating in Hike the Hill 2018!

Information on Registering for Hike the Hill 2019 will be available later this year.

Introducing American Hiking Society’s NextGen Trail Leaders

The inaugural class of AHS NextGen Trail Leaders brings together rising stars in the outdoor community from all walks of life and across the country. Through AHS, NextGen Trail Leaders will be the voice of young hikers and speak out to elected officials and the public on the need to protect public lands for all…

Hike the Hill 2017 Wrap-up

This past February, advocates from across the nation joined American Hiking Society and the Partnership for the National Trails System in hiking the Hill and making the case for the preservation of trails and the conservation of public lands. Trails advocates from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii made the journey to Washington, DC,…

Hike the Hill 2016 a Success

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…

Contact Congress

You may contact your Congressional Representative or your two U.S. senators via e-mail, through their official Congressional website, or by phone.

If you’re not sure who your Representative in the House of Representatives is or in which Congressional district you live, you can find your Representative via this official Congressional website.

Contact information for your Representative may be found on this webpage of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Contact information for your Senator may be found on this webpage of the U.S. Senate.

Don’t feel bashful. They want to hear from you! When communicating try to get straight to the point about the issue or legislation that concerns you and whether you are for or against it. Briefly inform them about why this issue matters to you.