Trails Community Appropriations Recommendations

Adequate Federal Funding for Trails

On behalf of the thousands of diverse trail users our collective organizations represent, we urge appropriators to adequately invest in our nation’s trails.

by Tyler Ray, Director of Policy and Advocacy at American Hiking Society, American Hiking Society

photo credit: Louis velazquez, unsplash

Forest Service (USFS)

National Forest trails benefit everyone and receive increasing public use each year. Collectively, the National Forests provide 158,000 miles of trails for activities ranging from hiking, biking, horseback riding, off-highway vehicle usage, groomed winter trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, and access points for water trails. Yet this trail system is increasingly stressed and maintenance cannot keep pace with the growing demand due to inadequate funding.

$100M to fund Capital Improvement and Maintenance, Trails (CMTL)
$261M to fund Recreation, Heritage, & Wilderness
$50M to fund Legacy Roads & Trails as a separate line item

National Park Service (NPS)

National Parks and the world-class experiences their 18,844 miles of trails provide are one of the most unifying forces in America. Well-maintained trails improve the quality of visitor experiences and enhance visitor safety. The National Park Service has administrative responsibility for 23 National Scenic and Historic Trails established by Congress. Adequate funding is essential for keeping these popular trails accessible to the public.

$16.5M as a minimum to fund Park Service Operations for the National Trails System
$13.478M to maintain funding for the Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program
$1.5M to restore the Challenge Cost Share program funding
$8M to restore funding for Volunteers in Parks programs funding
$10.95M to fund Visitor Services sub-activity, Youth Partnership Programs


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Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

The BLM manages 13,468 miles of trails over 245 million surface acres in the United States— more than any other federal land management agency. More than 120 urban centers and thousands of rural towns are located within 25 miles of BLM lands.

$84M to fund National Conservation Lands
$9.9M to fund National Conservation Lands - National Scenic and Historic Trails, sub-activity Recreation Resources Management
$3M to increase Challenge Cost Share program funding

Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)

Located in every US state and territory, and within an hour’s drive of nearly every major US city, National Wildlife Refuges provide incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, hunting, fishing, birding, boating, and nature photography across 2,100 miles of trails. More than 37,000 jobs are reliant on refuges.

$74.227M to maintain Refuge Visitor Services

Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

Across all agencies, Congress recently showed overwhelming bipartisan support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) when it permanently reauthorized the program. Building upon this support, please support full funding of the program. The LWCF has funded nearly 1,000 trail projects and thousands of other projects ranging from National Parks and Forests and Wildlife Refuges, to community parks and ball fields in all 50 states.

$900M to fully fund LWCF
$33.4M to include National Scenic and Historic Trails projects within LWCF

Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA)

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes the ORSA report marking a critical step forward for the trails and outdoor recreation industry by formally recognizing its economic influence.

$1.5M to fund the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account

photo credit: Brad Knight, Unsplash


Published March 02, 2020

About the Author

Tyler joined American Hiking in 2018, after nearly seven years with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where he led federal advocacy efforts on voting rights, disability rights, and humane border enforcement. He earned his Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Public Policy from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He obtained a B.A. degree in Social Science from San Diego State University.

As a native Californian, Tyler began hiking in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s and the Stanislaus National Forest. He’s been fortunate to experience trails across the country, with favorites including the Hanakapiai Trail in Kauai, the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail, and state park and national forest trails throughout his adoptive home in Virginia.

When not hiking the hill advocating on behalf of AHS members, Tyler spends time with his husband and their dog, Kona, looking for their next outdoor adventure.

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