An effort to get Congress behind hiking trails across the country opens today in Washington, D.C.
Organized by the American Hiking Society and the Partnership for the National Trails System, "Hike the Hill" is an annual, week-long event that brings trail leaders and volunteers to the Capitol to hear policy updates, receive training, and lobby Congress for trail funding and support.
This year’s Hike the Hill runs through Wednesday.
“The efforts of HTH participants over the years have contributed to notable funding increases for a number of the national scenic and historic trails like the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Florida National Scenic trails and increased funding and awareness for trails and recreation programs across the country,” said American Hiking Society President Greg Miller.
Mr. Miller said the event is scheduled at a time where it not only provides participants with the tools they need to help manage trails throughout the year, but also during the federal budget cycle so as to receive as much funding as possible.
“The trail organizations and advocates that participate in HTH year after year have also seen an increase in their credibility and capabilities through strengthened relationships with congressional and federal agency staff,” Mr. Miller said. “Hike the Hill is designed to hold its relevance even after participants leave D.C., because the event’s seminars and training opportunities impart knowledge and skills that are applicable throughout the year.”
This year, more than 100 trail advocates who range in age from 15 to 85 will be attending, representing 31 national scenic and historic trails across the country.
HTH participants will be attending a number of strategic meetings with members of Congress, agency leaders from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the USDA/Forest Service.
Organizations involved with the event include the majority of the National Scenic and Historic Trail organizations, such as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Florida Trail Association, and the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association, among others.
But participation is not limited to trail organizations, as groups like the American Horse Council, Backcountry Horsemen of America, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Outdoor Industry Association, The Wilderness Society, and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, regularly get involved.
“Trails do not just happen. As hikers, bikers, and equestrians who use trails across America, it is important to support the funding and protection of trails for current and future generations,” Mr. Miller said. “HTH is one of the best and most effective trail advocacy efforts in and for America. American Hiking Society and its more than 360 members of our Alliance of Hiking Organizations have been in the forefront of trail advocacy, supporting legislation, whether for natural areas, rail-trails, roadless initiatives, funding for forests and parks, or direct funding for trails."