American Hiking Society fights every day to protect and preserve hiking access on our public lands. Through our advocacy work with Congress and the federal land managers and stewardship efforts through Volunteer Vacations, Alternative Break, and National Trails Day®, we work to ensure that all hikers have access to our most treasured natural resource.
There is a lot at stake. Our public lands provide 193,500 miles of hiking trails to 145 million annual recreation users. These trails and lands need to be maintained, completed, (many trails aren’t fully connected) and protected.
Over the last two years, two million acres of National Monuments have lost protections because of action by the Trump Administration, with millions more on the chopping block. At Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monuments, 58% of trails now face threats from resource extraction industries.
Due to a lack of funding, maintenance needs on our public lands have gone unmet resulting in a $21.5 billion backlog across all federal lands. When land managers defer maintenance it results in closed trails, impassable roads, out of service restrooms, and campgrounds in poor conditions awaiting visitors.
Lastly, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the primary source of funding for conservation and maintenance projects in nearly every US county, is set to expire on September 30. If the LWCF expires it puts at risk the ability to complete trails across our public lands, including our National Scenic and Historic Trails, which even though they are celebrating their 50th Anniversary, most are still not completed.
It may seem like our public lands are suffering a lot, but there is hope. AHS, our members, and supporters are fighting back and standing up for public lands by:
- Calling on the president to reverse the cuts to National Monuments.
- Pushing Congress to pass legislation to address the maintenance needs across public lands. The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 6510) is quickly moving through Congress with strong bipartisan support and the support of the Department of Interior.
- Joining with the #SaveLWCF Coalition, to call on the House and Senate to permanently reauthorize the LWCF with dedicated funding. Through a year-long effort hundreds of AHS members and supporters have written their Member of Congress asking them to support the LWCF.
- Introducing public lands to the next generation. As members of the Outdoor Alliance for Kids, we’re working towards the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act (H.R. 3186), to provide every fourth grader and their family across the country free access to public lands.
Today and every day we will continue the fight for our public lands! Join us!