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Use It or Lose It! Protecting the National Trails System

“Protecting and improving access to our national forests is important for the millions of Americans who enjoy these lands,” said Paul Spitler, Director of Wilderness Campaigns at The Wilderness Society.

American Horse Publications recently released an article in relation to the National Forest Trails System Stewardship Act, a bipartisan bill to improve public access to America’s national forests.

Eleven diverse national recreation and local government organizations, including the American Horse Council, Back Country Horsemen of America and International Mountain Bicycling Association, are urging Congress to pass the bill, and they stated, “Failing to address the trail maintenance crisis will result in diminished public access to the great outdoors, increased potential for harm to natural resources, and greater future maintenance costs”.

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The largest network of trails in the world lies within the United States National Forest System and plays host to approximately 165 million visitors a year. However, with only a quarter of all trails being maintained to standard, the backlog is preventing public access, is a potential threat on public safety and degrades clean water.

“The Forest Service trail maintenance backlog is a serious concern for all recreational users,” said Ben Pendergrass, Vice President of Government relations at the American Horse Council. “This bill is a practical and cost effective measure to help address the problem and ensure equestrians and all trail users continue to have access to, and are able to enjoy, trails on our National Forests.”

The bill calls for more use of volunteers and partner organizations in order to keep these trails open and accessible. There will also be a focus on some priority areas around the country for increased trail maintenance.

“The efforts of volunteers and partners are critical to the upkeep and maintenance of America’s national Scenic Trails and the world-class experience they provide the public,” said Gary Werner, Executive Director of the Partnership for the National Trails System.

If this is something that you might be able to get behind, perhaps you would like to help. Save our trails for our riding our horses (with their Cavallo Boots of course!)

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