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Celebrate 50 Years of National Trails

NET emblem at Sen. Murphy's Office

Every February, CFPA’s Trails Stewardship Director Clare Cain and Executive Director Eric Hammerling go “Hike the Hill” to visit Connecticut’s congressional leaders in Washington, DC. This year, that visit was paired with a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 National Trails System Act.

Organized by our partners at the American Hiking Society and the Partnership for the National Trails System, “Hike the Hill” is a gathering of dozens of organizations and individuals representing 11 national scenic trails and 19 national historic trails who meet with congressional staff and members to talk about the important conservation legacies of these special trails and legislation necessary to support them.

Clare presented the 2017 Accomplishments Report for the NET which highlights over 10,000 volunteer hours; David Leff’s Haibun poetry project; trail relocations in Farmington and Durham; improvements to Chauncey Peak in Meriden; 40 community outreach events; 26 trail work parties; and much more.

Eric highlighted several budget and policy needs that impact the NET, such as:

  1. Increase appropriations for the NET through the National Park Service
    1. NET appropriations have been both inadequate and flat since the NET was designated in 2009. An increase from the current $40,000/year to $100,000/year for the NET is long overdue;
  2. Achieve parity for the NET amongst national scenic trails
    1. When the NET, North Country, and Ice Age Trails were designated, they were not made “units” of the National Park Service like the 8 other NST’s enjoy. This has hindered opportunities for funding and recognition within the NPS, and passage of the National Scenic Trails Parity Act would level the playing field;
  3. Support the Complete America’s Great Trails Act
    1. This legislation, led by Sen. Blumenthal in the Senate, would provide a tax credit to private landowners who donate a conservation easement on their properties to enable sections of national scenic trails to become permanent. If adopted, this bill would help tremendously to incentivize landowners who keep the NET trail corridor connected.

Inspirational stories from the many participants in “Hike the Hill” were strong reminders that we all share a special responsibility to connect people to the land to protect forests, parks, and trails for future generations across the nation. For more information about "Hike the Hill" or CFPA's 2018 policy priorities, contact Eric Hammerling via ehammerling@ctwoodlands.org.