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.
AHS Statement: The National Forest System: Restoring our Forest Infrastructure
AHS Statement for U.S. Forest Service Maintenance Backlog before the House Agriculture Committee, Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
National Trail and Conservation Groups Blast New DOI E-Bike Order
Groups Fear Order Paves Way for Motorization of America’s National Trails, Parks and Public Lands
The Climate Crisis and Public Lands
A Question for Presidential Candidate Forums: As president, How will you protect our public lands from the impact of climate change and energy extraction so they become part of the climate crisis solution?
Comments on NEPA Forest Service Proposed Rule
AHS writes in opposition to proposed revisions to the U.S. Forest Service’s NEPA proposed rule changes.
AHS Statement for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing to Review LWCF
PDF version of letter The Honorable Lisa Murkowski The Honorable Joe Manchin Chairman …
Registration Now Open!
We hope you will join us March 8-26, 2021 for Virtual Hike the Hill 2021®!
Now in its 24th year, Hike the Hill® is a joint effort between the American Hiking Society and the Partnership for the National Trails System to bring together the trails community to advance shared trail priorities with congressional and federal agency leaders including trails funding, public lands management, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), and other top priority issues that sustain trails and improve access to public lands.
In 2021, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, trail partners from across the nation will come together VIRTUALLY to advocate for legislation, learn about new policies, and meet with federal partners, elected officials and their staff, and fellow trail organizations.
We have designed a Tentative Schedule to maximize planning and participation virtually that will occur on select afternoons (2pm-5pm EST) over a three week period.
Plan to join us on select afternoons (2-5pm EST) March 8-26 for briefings on the top trail issues before Congress and federal agencies, how to advocate for trails, hear from federal partners and agency leaders, meet with your Member of Congress (scheduled on your own), meet with the staff of select Congressional Committee staff (registration doesn’t guarantee meeting participation), and network with other trail organizations and user groups.
If this is your first Hike the Hill®, you haven't attended in a few years, or haven’t been able to travel to DC, we encourage you to join us in 2021 in this virtual format!
(No Cost for Federal Agency Partners)
What’s Included in Registration
- Hike the Hill® Issue Briefings (Live and Recorded)
- Training Session and Resources on Running an Effective Virtual Congressional Meeting
- Hike the Hill® Branded Advocacy Materials for Congressional Meetings (Talking Points, Fact Sheets, and Leave Behinds)
- Virtual Social Hour to connect with other Trail Organizations, DC partners, and others.
- Individual Congressional Office Meetings (scheduled on your own) as part of the collective Hike the Hill® effort.
- A Virtual Meeting Guide is provided after registering to help you schedule and plan your meetings.
- Potential to attend group meetings with congressional committee and agency staff. (Registration does not guarantee access to group meetings. Participation may be limited due to capacity, issue focus, or any other reason.)
Scheduling Meetings with Your Members of Congress
Hike the Hill participants are encouraged to schedule meetings with their Members of Congress. Upon registration you will receive access to a Virtual Meeting Guide to assist you in this process.
Virtual Hike the Hill 2021 Tentative Schedule
March 8-26, 2021
All Briefings and Meetings will be scheduled between 2-5pm EST to the extent possible
Briefings Prior to Hike the HillⓇ
- Congress 101 and New Administration Updates (Recorded Only-Available mid-February)
- Using Zoom during Hike the HillⓇ Training Session (TBA)
Week 1 (March 8-12) : Issue Briefings*
(All briefings will be recorded for future viewing)
- Appropriations and Trails Funding
- Messaging Trails to Congressional Priorities (Climate, Transportation/Infrastructure, Economic Recovery, and Health)
- Implementing the Great American Outdoors Act (LWCF and Deferred Maintenance)
- Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Legislative and Administrative Advocacy
- Transportation and Infrastructure as it relates to Trails
*Issue Briefings subject to change
Week 2 (March 15-19): Agency Group Meetings
Meetings to be Requested
- National Park Service Leadership
- US Forest Service Leadership
- Bureau of Land Management Leadership
- Department of Interior and US Forest Service Land Acquisition Leads
- Office of Management and Budget- DOI and Related Agencies
Week 3 (March 22-26): Congressional Committee Group Meetings
Meetings to be Requested
- Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Staff (Majority and Minority)
- House Interior Appropriations Committee Staff (Majority and Minority)
- Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Staff (Majority and Minority)
- House Natural Resources Committee Staff (Majority)
- House Natural Resources Committee Staff (Minority)
- Registration does not guarantee access to group meetings.
- Participation may be limited due to capacity, issue focus, or any other reason.
- Meeting Agendas and Speakers will be set-in pre-meeting planning sessions.
- Information on meeting participation is forthcoming.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.