Thursday, September 29, 2016

National Forest Trail Maintenance Legislation Passes House

September 28, 2016 - The American Endurance Ride Conference’s Trails and Land Management Committee is pleased to announce that the House of Representatives approved H.R. 845 this week the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act.

Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the legislation, which would keep more trails across the nation open and accessible by expanding the use of volunteer and partner organizations and providing increased focus on a handful of priority areas around the country.

AERC has been a proponent of the bill, working alongside The Wilderness Society, the American Horse Council and Back Country Horsemen of America and more than 100 other equestrian, sportsmen, conservation, motorized recreation, outfitters and guides, trails, and governmental organizations.

The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by 87 members of the House of Representatives, and the Senate version, S.1110, is set for “fast-tracking” with hopes that it will be signed into legislation before the end of 2016.“

We have been working toward this for almost two years,” said AERC Trails and Land Management Committee Chair Monica Chapman of Kansas. “AERC signed on early as one of the sponsors. This advocacy is part of what our members are getting as part of their dues—this is what the Trails Committee is doing to help secure the future of trails for all endurance riders.”

Chapman has visited Washington, D.C. multiple times, and has spent time visiting Senate and Representative offices as a proponent of H.R. 845 and other measures that will benefit all riders who use trails, both for casual riding and in endurance competitions.
“National forest and trails are important to thousands of recreational riders and are a vital component of the $32 billion recreational riding industry,” said Ben Pendergrass, senior vice-president of policy and legislative affairs at the American Horse Council. “This bill will help make certain that equestrians and all trail users are able to have access to and enjoy our national forests. The AHC hopes the Senate will move quickly to also approve this bill.”

“We are overjoyed that Congress recognized the need to improve the condition of trails on our national forests,” affirmed Back Country Horsemen of American Chairman Donald Saner. “We applaud Representatives Lummis and Walz and urge swift action in the Senate.
”Trails advocacy has been a vital component of AERC. Since its inception in 1972, AERC has been a leader in encouraging the use, protection and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historical significance. AERC, through its active Trails and Land Management Committee, seeks to promote awareness of the importance of trail preservation for future generations, and foster an appreciation of our American heritage.

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