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

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Congressional Action on North Country Trail

March, 2015 – A good trail always starts with a good plan. But, sometimes, decades later, the plan needs to be tweaked. This is not normally a big deal, but when the trail is a congressionally-designated National Scenic Trail, that means having Congress approve the changes. Currently, the North Country Trail (NCT) finds itself in…

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American Hiking Agrees: Get More Kids to Parks & Forests

SILVER SPRING, MD – Today President Obama announced a new initiative that seeks to have more children experience America’s public lands. The initiative, Every Kid in a Park, will ensure that for the 2015-2016 school year, every 4th grader and their family gets a free annual pass to visit America’s national parks, forests, refuges, and…

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Hiking the Halls of Congress

The new Congress, fresh off the campaign trail, had a chance to learn about a different kind of trail this past week: hiking trails! From February 8-12, 2015, advocates from all over the country came to DC to participate in Hike the Hill, a joint effort by American Hiking Society and the Partnership for the…

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Forest Service Releases Decision on Fracking in GWNF

November 18, 2014 – The USDA Forest Service has just released its decision to significantly limit any potential fracking in the George Washington National Forest. Having weighed in on behalf of the hiking community during the course of discussions with the Forest Service, American Hiking Society lauds this decision. Specifically, the Forest Service decision prohibits…

Give Congress a Call

November 19, 2014 – I would like to ask you to take just a few minutes – right now – to help protect and preserve the places you enjoy hiking. There is an awful lot happening on Capitol Hill currently, but if American Hiking Society were to ask you to do just ONE THING –…

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Forest Service Report Details Costs of Fighting Fires

Aug. 25, 2014 – The US Dept. of Agriculture recently released a report that examines the impact of fighting fires on the US Forest Service over the past two decades. According to the report, the amount of money spent fighting fires has increased substantially; so much so that in all but four of the last…

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Join us in 2023 for the 26th Annual Hike the Hill®!

Learn more about the success of the 25th Anniversary of Hike the Hill® in 2022!

Current Issues

American Hiking works on a range of issues that affect public lands, hiking, and 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!

The nearly 1,000,000 square miles that comprise U.S. public lands are our most treasured natural resource. Whether you’re a hiker enjoying the 193,500 miles of trail or one of the total 145 million recreation users, these lands are of enormous personal value to you.  Public lands are also an economic driver for the recreation economy, generating 508,740 jobs and an economic output of $52 billion each year

The most pressing threats to public lands protections include shrinking National Monuments and expanding energy development.  Such erosions, rather than expanding access, usually deprive hikers, anglers, hunters, campers, and all other permitted users the opportunity to enjoy their desired form of recreation, and, at best, obstruct views and generate noise and air pollution.

Legislation

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is America’s most important program to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation. The program has funded nearly one thousand trail projects and thousands of other projects ranging from National Parks, Forests and Wildlife Refuges to community parks and ball fields in all 50 states. Legislation is pending in Congress to permanently reauthorize and provide dedicated funding to the program.

Addressing Maintenance Needs on Public Lands

Our public lands are facing a $21.5 billion and growing maintenance backlog.  When annual maintenance needs go unaddressed, long-term problems arise, impacting the public’s ability to access outdoor recreation. Closed trails, out-of-service restrooms, campgrounds in poor conditions, and impassable roads are only a few of the barriers that hikers face. Currently 193,500 miles of trails on federal lands need $1.71 billion of estimated maintenance.

Protecting Against Amendments to the Wilderness Act

Efforts to amend the Wilderness Act threaten the continued protection of our most untouched and wild lands. American Hiking Society opposes the use of mountain bicycles in designated wilderness areas and areas under consideration for wilderness designation.

Completing our National Trails System

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System and realizing the goal to achieve a completed and connected system is just as important today as when the law was enacted. Legislation before Congress including the National Scenic Trail Parity Act and the North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act work towards that goal.

Trail Funding

Trails are the gateway to nearly every facet of outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, camping, and more. A failure to maintain and manage our nation’s trails stymies economic growth and access to healthy outdoor recreation.

Every Kid Outdoors Act

The Every Kid Outdoors Act congressionally authorizes the Every Kid in a Park program, providing every fourth grader and their family free access to all federal public lands and waters. The act will introduce the next generation to outdoor recreation and foster lifelong service to and enjoyment of our most treasured natural resource. Hundreds of thousands of students have taken advantage of the program since it began

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.

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.

Position Statements

Take Action

"I support public land protections."

Patrick Hendry

"Vote for Public Lands Legislation."

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