H.R. 4671 National Discovery Trails Act of 2010 introduced in the House

May 19, 2010

Introduced by Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, Nick Rahall of West Virginia; referred to House subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands

You can view the House bill at www.thomas.gov - enter HR4671 in search.

The legislation has been introduced with the bipartisan sponsorship of Rep. John Sarbanes and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

The legislation creates a new category of national trail, National Discovery Trail, and designates the American Discovery Trail as the first of these trails. The American Discovery Trail is the first coast-to-coast nonmotorized trail, and supplies a missing link that ties together the National Trails System.

More information is available at http://www.discoverytrail.org/news/issues.html



Mr. SARBANES. Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce the bipartisan National Discovery Trails Act of 2010. This legislation seeks to connect existing trails, greenways, and country roads to form the American Discovery Trail a unique coast-to-coast, non-motorized, multi-use trail accessible to urban and rural areas alike all across the country.

Americans have utilized our nation's trail system for more than 40 years for outdoor recreation, exercise, historic study, and general enjoyment of the natural beauty this country has to offer. The American Discovery Trail will connect people to small towns, historic sites and natural wonders along a coast-to-coast route. It will provide millions of people greater access to a trail system that can be utilized for two hours, two days, two weeks, two months or longer giving users the flexibility to explore the trail for as much or as little time as they want. Numerous studies have shown that the presence of trails and greenway corridors positively impact quality of life, but also real estate property values, small businesses, tourism, and even some corporate relocations.

The National Trails System currently has two categories of significant long-distance trails. The first category is the National Historic Trail, which are famous historic routes, such as the Santa Fe Trail, Pony Express Trail, and the Lewis & Clark Trail. The second category is the National Scenic Trail, which are classic wilderness-only routes meant for hiking far from civilization, such as the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.

The National Discovery Trails Act of 2010 would add a third long-distance national trails category called National Discovery Trails. National Discovery Trails would tie together historic and scenic trails and connect them with population centers from small towns to big cities in a way that will increase access to and awareness of our national trail system.

The legislation would also designate the American Discovery Trail as the first National Discovery Trail. The American Discovery Trail route-- the first non-motorized way to cross the entire country-- would utilize already existing right-of-ways on public land. It would be a patchwork quilt of the country's east-west pathways, including National Park hiking trails, National Forest logging roads, sections of historic routes, historic canal towpaths, rails-to-trails conversions, state and county park trails, country roads, small town sidewalks, and big city greenways--all stitched together to form one trail from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The National Park Service supported creation of the National Discovery Trail designation in a comprehensive feasibility study in 1996.

Madam Speaker, it is time to expand the national trails system and establish American Discovery Trails, linking community to community and providing trail users the opportunity to journey into the heart of all that is uniquely American--its culture, heritage, landscape, and spirit. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting of this legislation.

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