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.
American Hiking Society Statement for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Outdoor Recreation Legislation Hearing 12-2-21
On behalf of American Hiking Society and the 57 million strong hiking community who enjoy the trails and green spaces in their communities, we write in support of the following legislation under consideration by the committee which will support hikers, trails, public lands, and the outdoors by expanding equitable outdoor access.
S. 2887, Outdoors for All Act
S. 1269 Environmental Justice in Recreation Permitting Act
S. 1229 Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act (SOAR Act)
S. 2258 Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act
AHS Comments-Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through Recreation Opportunities (DOI)
On behalf of American Hiking Society (AHS) and the 57 million strong hiking community we thank the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) for the opportunity to participate in the public listening sessions and submit comments on how DOI can advance racial equity and support for underserved communities through recreation opportunities as part of its implementation of Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
Include Hiker Priorities in the Build Back Better Act!
Right now Congress is finalizing what to include in the Build Back Better Act reconciliation package. There are key provisions that will benefit the hiking community through expanded outdoor recreation, natural climate solutions, increased equitable access close to home, and economic growth! Your voice is needed to make sure these critical components stay in the final bill!
American Hiking Society Letter in Support of H.R. 5376, Build Back Better Act
Letter in support of H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act, which will support hikers, trails, public lands, and the outdoors by expanding equitable outdoor access, providing natural climate solutions, and supporting economic growth.
Support for Trails in Reconciliation Legislation To Address Equitable Access and Natural Climate Solutions
October 21, 2021 The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 The Honorable Steny Hoyer Majority Leader U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 2051 Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer: SEC. 110003 NEIGHBORHOOD ACCESS AND EQUITY GRANTS SEC. 110008 LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES SEC. 11001 NATIONAL…
Support the Recreational Trails Program!
Right now Congress is debating what to prioritize in the future of our nation’s infrastructure. Trails are a critical component of infrastructure and the Recreational Trails Program needs your support to call on Congress to provide adequate funding to ensure trails are built and maintained for all to enjoy!
Registration Now Open Hike the Hill® 2022
Virtual Issue Briefings January 24-28
Virtual Group Meetings February 14-18
Celebrating its 25th year, Hike the Hill® is a joint effort between American Hiking Society and 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 and conservation, equitable access, and other top priority issues that sustain trails and improve access to public lands.
In 2022, due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, trail partners from across the nation will come together for VIRTUAL briefings and group meetings to advocate for legislation, learn about new policies, and meet with federal partners, elected officials and their staff, and fellow trail organizations. Participants that wish to meet with their congressional representatives in-person may do so at their own discretion.
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 2022 in this virtual format!
Special $50 Registration Rate for First Time Participants
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.
- Group meetings with congressional committee and agency staff. (Registration does not guarantee a speaking role in group meetings. Participation may be limited due to capacity, issue focus, or any other reason.)
Limited complimentary registration for those with financial barriers to participation in Hike the Hill® may be available. Please contact [email protected] for additional information.
(Detailed Schedule Available Following Registration)
January 24-28, 2022
All Briefings and Meetings will be scheduled between 2-5pm EST to the extent possible
Planned Issue Briefing To Be Scheduled
- Welcome Session
- Appropriations and Trails Funding
- Trails Legislation
- Messaging Trails
- Administration Priorities and Trails
* Issue Briefings subject to change
February 14-18, 2022
Meetings to be Requested/Confirmed
- Office of Management and Budget
- Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (Majority and Minority Staff)
- House Natural Resources Committee (Majority)
- House Natural Resources Committee (Minority)
- Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee (Majority and Minority)
- House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee (Majority and Minority)
February 14 (Meetings Scheduled Between 2-5pm ET)
3pm-5pm ET- Agency Trail Leads Updates and Breakout Sessions with Agency Trail Administrators
5:30pm ET- Social Hour
February 15 (Meetings Scheduled Between 2-5pm ET)
2-3:00pm ET- Bureau of Land Management Leadership Meeting
February 16 (Meetings Scheduled Between 2-5pm EST)
2-3:00pm ET USDA Forest Service Leadership, including Chief Randy Moore
4-5:00pm ET- National Park Service
February 17 (Meetings Scheduled Between 2-5pm EST)
February 18 (Meetings Scheduled Between 2-5pm EST)
Scheduling Individual 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.
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.