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National Recreation Trails for 2002

Secretary Norton Designates 26 New National Recreation Trails and Promotes "Pathways to Health" at C&O Canal

May 31, 2002 -- Washington, DC-- Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and National Park Service Director Fran Mainella today promoted use of trails as "pathways to health"— just what the doctor prescribed to improve America's health. Gathering at the C& O Canal National Historical Park and Capital Crescent Trail, Norton designated 26 new national recreation trails in 16 states. The Interior Department officials were joined by Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-MD), park superintendent Doug Faris, American Hiking Society Director Mary Margaret Sloan, and other recreation leaders from the local, state, and private sectors.

"The American Hiking Society sponsors National Trails Day nationwide on June 1 each year but we wanted to kick off the celebration early with an announcement of new trails and a special recognition of the crucial role of partnerships in promoting health through trails," said Secretary Norton. "Our celebration is twofold because partnerships build trails and trails build healthy Americans. Promoting trails for health is part of a larger effort by the Bush Administration to promote community partnerships aimed at encouraging physical fitness." In addition to inclusion in the National Trails System, each of the 26 recreation trails [see list below] will receive a certificate of designation and National Recreation Trail markers.

Throughout the country there are now more than 800 National Recreation Trails in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, totaling more than 9,000 miles. Following the designations, Secretary Norton presented the first certificate and plaque representing the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Park to David Dionne, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks Trails Superintendent, and Elizabeth Wyble, Anne Arundel County Trails President.

After the presentation, hikers from the American Hiking Society, National Recreation and Parks Association, Student Conservation Association and home schooling students joined the Secretary for a short walk along the C&O Canal towpath and the adjacent Capital Crescent Trail. Like the new recreation trails, the 185-mile-long towpath and Capital Crescent Trail are examples of partnerships and of the many different kinds of trails in addition to those in the National Trails System. The canal, for example, is a national historical park administered by the National Park Service. The National Park System includes 763 miles of paved trails and more than 12, 000 miles of unpaved trails. (Moreover, Interior's Bureau of Land Management maintains 11,000 miles of trails.) The Capital Crescent trail is managed in a partnership between the National Park Service and Montgomery County, Maryland.

"These trails exist today because of the conservation successes of individuals and groups that sought to make a difference," said NPS superintendent Faris. Thousands of individuals on a great variety of land and water trails around the nation will participate in the 10th annual National Trails Day celebration tomorrow. For example, an event at Grand Canyon National Park marks the opening of the first four miles of the planned Grand Canyon Greenway, which will total 73 miles of scenic hiking, biking and wheelchair paths on both rims of the Grand Canyon. Some of the newly honored national recreation trails are having events— such as a canoeing and kayaking "sojourn" on the Schuylkill River Water Trail in Pennsylvania.

The National Trails System Act of 1968 encourages the Secretary of the Interior to recognize such existing community trails that qualify as additions to the National Trails System. The Act promotes enjoyment and appreciation of trails while encouraging greater public access. National Recreation Trails are components of the National Trails System. In addition to recreation trails, the system includes national scenic, national historic, and side or connecting trails. The national scenic and national historic trails may only be designated by an Act of Congress, while national recreation and side or connecting trails are designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture.

The National Recreation Trail program is nonregulatory and basically provides technical assistance and support for outreach efforts. The National Park Service and USDA Forest Service jointly administer the program with help from a number of other federal and nonprofit partners-- notably American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trail website (www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails). Applications are based on diverse partnerships, and trails have already been designated on federal, state, local, and privately owned land throughout the country.

The trail designations announced today are part of a campaign to promote community partnerships and innovative ways to encourage physical fitness. Earlier this month, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson made a call for greater physical activity by Americans in light of a new Centers for Disease Control & Prevention study showing that obesity-related hospital costs increased threefold over the past 20 years. More than 60 percent of adults in the United States and 13-14 percent of children and adolescents are overweight. The percentage of overweight and obese children and adolescents has tripled. HHS and CDC have partnership agreements with agencies and organizations such as the National Park Service and with the National Recreation and Park Association, which represents more than 108,000 city, state and local public park and recreation facilities.

The new trails designated include the Sacramento River Trail and Sacramento River Rail-Trail, California; Mineral Belt Trail, Colorado; Poudre River Trail Corridor, Colorado; Air Line State Park Trail - South, Connecticut; General James A. Van Fleet Trail State Park, Florida; Suncoast Trail, Florida; Silver Comet Trail, Georgia; Lower Cache River Trail, Illinois; Central Canal Towpath, Indiana; Monon Rail-Trail, Indiana; Pleasant Run Trail, Indiana; White River "Wapahani" Trail, Indiana; Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Park, Maryland; Gateway State Trail, Minnesota; Lake Wobegon Trail, Minnesota; North Fork Crow River Trail, Minnesota; Hay Creek Trail, North Dakota; Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, Oregon; Schuylkill River Water Trail, Pennsylvania; Port Royal Sound Adventure Trail, South Carolina; TNT Motorsports Park, South Carolina; Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Trail, South Dakota; New River Trail State Park, Virginia; The Rivanna Trail, Virginia; John Wayne Pioneer Trail, Washington; and the North Cascades National Park/Ross Lake National Recreation Area (NRA) Segment of the Pacific Northwest Trail, Washington.

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