DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Timothy J. Walz
Sent By: randolph.briley@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 4886
Date: 7/31/2014

Current Co-Sponsors: Lummis, Walz, DeFazio, Goodlatte, Peterson,Crawford, DelBene, Graves, McIntyre, StewartMcClintock, McNerney,Pearce, Ribble, Chu, Nolan, Daines

Organizational Support: The Wilderness Society, Back Country Horsemen of America, American Motorcyclist Association, International Mountain Bicycling Association, American Hiking SocietyAmerica Outdoors Association, American Horse Council.

Dear Colleague,

Today, American citizens’ access to our country’s public lands is impeded. While the National Forest System (NFS) helps fuel a $646 billion recreation industry, and public land use remains high, only one-fourth of the Forest Service’s trails meet the agency’s standards for maintenance. H.R. 4886, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (hereinafter the Trails Act) responds to maintenance challenges across the NFS trails system, and we ask that you join us in its support by signing on as a co-sponsor.

In a time of bipartisan gridlock and shrinking budgets, the Trails Act presents a reasonable remedy to the System’s long overdue maintenance needs. Last June, the Government Accountability Office reported the Forest Service’s trail upkeep backlog amounts to over half-a-billion dollars. This Act addresses this logjam by increasing partnerships with volunteer organizations, nonprofit groups and recreation outfitters.

More specifically, the bill would:

  • Require the Forest Service to develop a national strategy with the goal of doubling the amount of trail maintenance carried out by volunteers and partners within five years.
  • Direct the Forest Service to study the use of wild land firefighters for trail maintenance.
  • Address long-term liability issues by requiring costs be spread-out among all administrative units and clarifying how volunteers with partner organizations are classified.
  • Require a pilot program for outfitters and guides to offset some permit fees through work on trail maintenance.
  • Require the Forest Service to select no fewer than 9 and no more than 15 priority areas to incorporate volunteers and increase trail maintenance.

Given that close to two-thirds of the Forest Service’s trails do not receive ongoing maintenance, this issue cannot be ignored any longer. The Trails Act will maximize the use of existing Forest Service resources and taxpayer dollars and will also serve as an opportunity for our fellow Americans to reconnect with the great outdoors. Our country has a strong legacy of volunteerism and volunteers across the nation are eager to take on an even larger role in the remediation of our degrading National Forest System trails.

We urge you to join us in support of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2014, a fiscally responsible and bipartisan approach to preserving our NFS trails. For more information or to co-sponsor this legislation, please contact Becky Cole (Lummis) at becky.cole@mail.house.gov or Randolph Briley (Walz) atrandolph.briley@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Lummis                           Tim Walz

Member of Congress                   Member of Congress