Land protection and the National Trails System

By Andrea Ketchmark, NCTA’s Director of Trail Development

We speak often of the 2,000 miles yet to be built of the North Country Trail across private land. Combine that with the needs of the other 29 National Scenic and Historic Trails and the number of miles and acres needed to fulfill the vision set by the National Trails System Act becomes overwhelming. It’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not going to happen alone. Federal agencies and state agencies, nonprofits and businesses can work together to protect these important landscapes and complete our National Trails. By doing so, we expand corridors for wildlife, buffer endangered ecosystems and create a network of places for the public to experience the outdoors.

In recognition of the need to work together, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, assembled a comprehensive land protection package for the National Trails System as part of a new initiative called the Collaborative Landscape Planning (download the CLP Background Information flyer, PDF 0.22MB) program.  This $61 million proposal was submitted as part of their budget requests for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)  and includes 120 parcels in 17 states and 28 Congressional Districts along 11 national scenic and historic trails.  View the details in the downloadable CLP Executive Summary (0.26MB). The inter-agency collaboration and public/private cooperation involved in this application are impressive, and perhaps, an example to be followed in future Federal efforts of all kinds.

Map of the National Trails System showing CLP project locations

Map of the National Trails System showing CLP project locations

The North Country Trail has 2 projects in this proposal, one in Pennsylvania and one in Wisconsin that will both be significant  connections for the Trail if funded.

This week while in Washington DC, we met with legislators (note: see previous blog posts for a recap of Hike the Hill week) to advocate for the proposal and we met with our Federal agency partners to discuss how we can improve and grow in future years. Even if we aren’t successful this year, the process was incredibly important and we will continue to put forth bigger and better proposals that include lands in all of our 7 states in the coming years.

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