Advocating for the North Country National Scenic Trail
The NCTA is headed to Washington DC this weekend to kick off another Hike the Hill® event, a joint effort between the Partnership for the National Trail System and the American Hiking Society aimed at increasing awareness in Congress and within our Federal agency leadership about the National Trails System. Each February, trail partners and organizations from across the nation head to Washington, D.C. to discuss current initiatives, legislation, and goals for the future with federal partners, members of the House and Senate or their staff, and fellow trail organizations.
The week started on Sunday morning with briefings on agency priorities from our Federal partners (National Park Service, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) as well as any updates on from our non-profit organizations on important legislation or issues to watch. We meet with agency leadership to discuss important programs and what’s working and what’s not out in the field. And of course, the budget is always a big topic of conversation so the Partnership organizes meetings with both the Senate and House Interior Appropriations Committee staff, which enables us to share the needs of our trails and act as a reminder about how much we leverage federal dollars in everything we do.
The bulk of the week consists of volunteers and staff from trail organizations across the country visiting with their elected officials and their staff to inform them about the important issues facing our trails. We ask them for action on specific issues and we thank them when they’ve been supportive. By my side this week on Capitol Hill is Bruce Matthews, John Heiam, Laura DeGolier, Quinn Wright and Michael Rogers. All armed with packets of information and stories about the trail to share with elected officials from their states.
The NCTA has several legislative and budget priorities and it’s these issues we spend our time discussing with the members of Congress to ensure they understand how each item impacts the state, district and individual constituents. These priorities are:
- Passage of the North Country Trail Route Adjustment Act,
- Passage of the National Scenic Trails Parity Act,
- Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and
- Adequate operational funding for our agency partners to administer North Country National Scenic Trail.
Although the work we do in DC this week is important. It doesn’t compare to the letting your voice be heard at home. The most compelling voice is that of constituents.
If the trail is important to you, pick up the phone to let your elected officials know why they should support the legislation and funding necessary to develop the trail and protect it for future generations. Or better yet, invite them out on the trail with you so they can have the chance to experience it for themselves and they in turn become the advocate when they go back to work.
Learn more about issues important to the North Country Trail Association and how you can take action, check out the Advocacy page.