CONGRESS ADDS CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL TO NTS
As the 104th Congress came to a close in early October, a massive Parks Omnibus Bill that included several changes to the National Trails System Act was passed. (At presstime, the bill awaited presidential signature, which was expected).
The most important change in the bill was establishment of the 20th national trail, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. Commemorating the 1965 civil rights marches that led rapidly to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, this 54-mile trail follows the shoulder of U.S. 80 along the Alabama River, joining Selma's historic town center to the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery. Simultaneously, the Secretary of Transportation has declared the route an All-American Road in the National Scenic Byways Program, pledging at least $1.5 million for interpretive exhibits and other tourism-related facilities.
Other changes to the National Trails System contained in the Omnibus Bill are less dramatic, but nonetheless welcome. Two trail studies are requested--the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to Los Angeles and the Great Western Trail through Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. $17.5 million is provided for land acquisition at Sterling Forest on the New York-New Jersey boundary along the Appalachian Trail. In addition, the authority establishing the NPS Challenge Cost Share Program is expanded to include all NPS-related areas and programs, while requirements for submission of two reports (the biennial National Trails System Plan and the annual AT land acquisition report) are abolished.3/97
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