I’m on my way to Washington, DC—composing this first blog on the plane. As with previous Hike the Hill efforts I’ll be representing NCTA at Partnership for the National Trails System and American Hiking Society events, attending meetings with agency representatives (National Park Service, US Forest Service) and most importantly making Capitol Hill visits with the staffs of key legislators in states and districts through which the North Country Trail passes.
Of particular interest is the new strategy we’re adopting to get BOTH our re-routes introduced in Congress. We’ve tried, without much success, to get the Minnesota Arrowhead re-route authorized for almost ten years now. Why not is a subject for another blog I truly hope I DON’T have to write this year. But the new variable in the mix is the Eastern Terminus extension into Vermont, to connect with the Appalachian Trail. In December we passed the final hurdle with NPS sign-off on the Vermont plan. As with the Arrowhead, the Eastern Terminus extension requires Congressional authorization.
So, why not a combined bill? Such a bill, called the NCNST Trail Route Adjustment Act of 2014, would enable the Congressional delegations from multiple states to collaborate, creating a stronger bill that would be harder to attack (something that plagued the Arrowhead Re-Route bills of the past). The Congressional sponsors would be less vulnerable and the bill would have wider appeal–hopefully at least trail-wide if not system-wide.
With Monday’s meetings on the Hill we’ll launch this effort. Stay tuned on our progress, which hopefully will beget the success that would then become an opportunity for our members to join as we put pressure on Members of Congress to co-sponsor, support and pass this important legislation.