Congress is slowly getting back to work on “regular order” legislation after approving four funding packages aimed at addressing the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on individuals and businesses. There is good news regarding upcoming Senate action on S. 3422, The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a bipartisan legislative package to jointly address both full and dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and a dedicated fund to address backlog maintenance needs in our national parks, forests, and other public lands. This pdf illustrates some of the economic benefits of GAOA.
The Partnership for the National Trails System, its member groups and hundreds of other organizations, businesses, and individuals have endorsed this bill and sent a letter to Congress in early May urging prompt action on the bill. Just before the Senate recessed for Memorial Day, Majority Leader McConnell announced that the bill would be put in the queue for floor consideration in June, perhaps as early as the first full week.
In the House, a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter urging action on GAOA as part of an infrastructure package got 118 signers over a short period of time — signaling strong support for quick action — and a companion measure to S. 3422 is expected to be introduced in the House very soon.
In the meantime, PNTS sent a second letter to Congressional leaders in early May requesting specific attention to trails needs in a COVID-19 economic recovery or infrastructure package, and along with many other organizations has continued to urge Congress to include the outdoor recreation economy and public lands in its stimulus plans.
PNTS Update on Executive Director, Office, and Trail Intern Grants
The Partnership for the National Trails System Transition Task Force reports that the hiring of a new Executive Director is on schedule for mid-summer with a start date on or before September 1st. We are delighted with the number and caliber of applicants, and interviews are underway.
PNTS leadership is also exploring several promising options for its office move to Washington, D.C., including co-locating with a peer/partner organization.
Of the 13 National Trail Intern Grants awarded in 2020, so far 7 interns have been hired, 3 of which have started their internships. The rest of the trails had to delay the start dates/hire dates due to COVID-19 and are planning on starting their internships by June.
Are You Willing to Travel?
The Overmountain Victory Trail Association (OVTA) is planning to host the PNTS Fall National Trails Workshop in Spartanburg, South Carolina on October 26-30, 2020. This workshop is intended to serve the interests of both national scenic and historic trails. At this time, the planning team needs to make a recommendation to the PNTS Trail Leaders Council about whether the workshop will be an in-person event or held virtually. There are a variety of factors to consider but of the utmost importance is safety and your willingness to attend an in-person event in October. Please help us in this process by filling out this very short survey by June 7th. We don’t have the details of what things will be like in October so we are asking you to use your best judgement with what you know today.
REMINDER: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit story ideas for potential inclusion in the summer issue of Pathways by June 12th.
Spring Issue of Pathways
The cover story for our spring issue of Pathways Across America focuses on how the trails community has been adjusting to change amid a global pandemic and collaborating by sharing resources and creating virtual engagement opportunities during COVID-19. Other stories include updates from PNTS leadership, a recap of Hike the Hill, Electronic Tour Sites on historic trails, recent land purchases and reroutes on scenic trails, trail partner comings and goings, and an update from the National Trails System Council.
The Partnership just published its second case study about land protection efforts. “Saving Fones Cliffs: A Remarkable Conservation Success Story along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail,” relays the 15-year sustained effort by conservation organizations to acquire Fones Cliffs in eastern Virginia in 2018. The cliffs, located in the heart of the ancestral home of the Rappahannock Tribe, are also home to one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the continental U.S.
The Partnership for the National Trails System will share additional webinars hosted by other organizations on its webinar page. Registration information and costs may vary. Since March, this has included dozens of COVID-19 related webinars and virtual town hall meetings. Some recordings are also available.
Leveraging Outdoor Recreation to Revitalize Rural Economies June 2nd at 1-2:30PM EDT Hosted by American Trails
Ratcheting Up Rural Response, Recovery and Resilience: Five Good Ideas for Philanthropy June 2nd at 2-4PM EDT Hosted by Aspen Institute
Community Engagement for Trails June 11th at 1PM EDT Hosted by American Trails
Women-Led Stewardship and Conservation - A Panel Discussion June 16th at 3PM EDT Hosted by American Trails
PNTS has created a COVID-19 Updates for National Scenic and Historic Trails webpage to track, to the best of its ability, trail-related responses, guidelines, policies, event cancellations, related news articles, and resources. If you would like something shared to this page, please email Samantha Haas, PNTS Communications Coordinator, at email@example.com. Examples of specific resources are listed below.
#RecreateResponsibly and Take the #NationalTrailsDay Pledge
We’ve temporarily experienced life with limited access to trails and public lands and, now more than ever, realize how much we need them. The need to recreate responsibly will continue even after the pandemic is behind us. We have a shared responsibility to care for these places and ensure they remain for future generations to enjoy. As some trails, parks, and public lands open up for us to get back outdoors, join us in committing to get out there responsibly and join the #RecreateResponsibly Coalition.American Hiking Society (AHS) is shifting from promoting in-person events to a digital activation for National Trails Day® on June 6, 2020. Take the #NationalTrailsDay Pledge and commit to taking at least one action in 2020 to preserve trails and fight for equitable access to quality green space.
More National Trails System News
Trails Book Will Benefit PNTS
Steve Elkinton’s book, "The National Trails System – An Illustrated History" (VertelPress, 2020), is now available from Amazon Books, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble for $26.99. Steve Elkinton served in the National Park Service for 25 of those 50 years helping to build this system of trails. He uses oral history interviews and archived documents to fill in hitherto undocumented gaps in this uplifting story. Once publishing expenses are met, all additional proceeds will be donated to the Partnership for the National Trails System.
USFS New Acting Trails Lead
The U.S. Forest Service has announced that Brenda Yankoviak will be stepping into the role of its Acting National Trails Program Lead beginning June 8. Brenda has worked around the west in recreation and trails and is currently the manager of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail program. She has terrific program management and facilitation skills and the department looks forward to having her step into the role of convening and leading the many trails teams currently working across the country. Welcome, Brenda!
Funding, Scholarship, and Award Opportunities
Matching Awards Program
The National Forest Foundation is soliciting proposals for its Matching Awards Program (MAP), which provides U.S. Forest Service federal funds for on-the-ground projects benefiting America's National Forests and Grasslands. A 1:1 non-federal match is required.
Camber Outdoors opened its applications for Camber Exchange Beneficiary “mini-grants” to nonprofits with a 501(c)(3) status, annual revenue of $250,000 or less, and initiatives or programs that promote workplace equity in the active-outdoors industries.
During stressful times, it is well known that a breath of fresh air can help reduce stress and even physical symptoms. Don’t overlook the national scenic and historic trails that may be nearby. A visit to a trail can enhance your health and well being. Your gift of $50, $100, $250 or more will help the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) expand the diversity of trail experiences including virtual ones.
Donations to the Partnership for the National Trails System will help bring more trails, scenic and historic, to you. Your tax-deductible contribution will help us to create opportunities to explore your natural and historic heritage throughout America and support the work of citizen stewards who build and maintain these trails in your backyard. We thank you!
National Pony Express Association's Annual Re-Ride • June 3-13, 2020 National Trails Day • June 6, 2020 North Country Trail Association Virtual Celebration • August 2020 SORP National Outdoor Recreation Conference • September 14-17, 2020 38th Annual OCTA Convention • (2020 event is rescheduled for September 12-16, 2021) Santa Fe Trail Center Rendezvous • September 24-26, 2020 National Wilderness Workshop • October 13-17, 2020 National Trails Workshop - South Carolina • October 26-30, 2020 view all