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Editorial: Good news and exciting times

From the Spring 2009 issue of American Trails Magazine

By Pam Gluck

 

Wow – what an exciting time for trails! Funds are flowing to address maintenance backlogs and unfunded projects! There are endless job opportunities for trail builders! Youth will learn new skills! New National Historic and National Scenic Trails have been designated, and more!

Here are a few highlights:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides many trail-related opportunities

Congress passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, which includes over 160 separate bills benefiting our public lands including:

The President’s 2010 budget includes $420 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund for Interior and the USDA Forest Service (includes $80 million to support state-side assistance), with annual increases to reach full funding of $900 million by 2014!

Success story!

Recently, the Florida legislature in response to budget constraints, proposed to cut 16 positions from the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails and to combine this office with State Parks. Due to public outcry and educating leaders as to the importance of their work, this vital program remains in tact!

We must be vigilant and not take anything for granted!

The Florida episode must be a wake up call to the trails community. In this economic time, it is easy for others to consider our work as non-essential. We know better! We must be much more vigilant in educating our leaders as to the variety of benefits trails provide our citizens and visitors.

The NPS Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program was cut by $500,000 in the 2009 budget! That amount has been restored for 2010, but it is not enough! There are hundreds of projects in need of support through this technical assistance and partnership program. The Rivers and Trails Coalition advocates increasing this budget to $12 million. We must promote the benefits of this critical program at every opportunity!

The Coalition for Recreational Trails needs your help to ensure the Recreational Trails Program is included in the next authorization. Visit our Recreational Trails Program page to sign on to a letter in support of preserving and growing this program, and visit our on reauthorization of transportation funding area to learn more about these vital programs.

Nonprofit trail organizations across the county are working together to save these programs and need your assistance! Please help them by joining and becoming active members, and by donating funds to support their work.

One of the best things you can do to bring attention to trails and their benefits is to hold a National Trails Day event and get your Congress members out on your trails!

-- Pam Gluck, Executive Director

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