Legislation on Volunteer Trail Crews on Public Lands
Friday, November 18, 2016
Posted by: Sharon Leach
Bill encouraging volunteers to maintain trails goes to Obama
Marc Heller, E&E News reporter
Published: Thursday, November 17, 2016
Bipartisan legislation encouraging the use of volunteers to maintain trails passed the Senate today and is awaiting President Obama's signature.
Conservation and recreation groups praised the legislation, called the "National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act" (H.R. 845). It passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
Chief sponsors of the identical legislation in the House and Senate were Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
The legislation calls for a national strategy on increasing the involvement of volunteers and nongovernmental organizations in trail maintenance, while addressing liability concerns. The legislation specifically seeks to involve fire crews in off-season maintenance, by requiring a study on the use of such crews for trail work.
The Forest Service maintains about one-quarter of the 158,000 miles of agency-owned trails that offer hiking, horseback riding and other activities, Bennet's office reported.
Obama is expected to sign the bill, reported the Wilderness Society, which said the measure would provide more opportunities for people to experience the outdoors.
In other quick Senate action on outdoors measures, the chamber today passed a resolution, S. Res. 608, by voice vote declaring the week of Sept. 17-24, 2016, as National Estuaries Week.