Trail Program Director, Alex Stigliano, writes:
With our current political environment being as contentious as it currently is, it’s hard to find many issues that are truly bipartisan. Thankfully, our National Trails System is one such issue.
Now in its 22nd year, Hike the Hill is a joint effort between the Partnership for the National Trail System and the American Hiking Society (the FTA is a member of both organizations) aimed at increasing congressional and federal agency leader awareness of funding and other needs that sustain the National Trails System. Each February, trail partners and organizations from across the nation head to Washington, D.C. to discuss current initiatives, legislation, and goals for the future with federal partners, congressmen or their staff, and fellow trail organizations.
Confident in our cause, the Florida Trail Association’s advocacy team – comprised this year of President Leslie Wheeler, VP of Trails David Waldrop, and FT Program staff Kelly Wiener and Alex Stigliano – traveled up to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the Florida Trail. It was a success! Not only were we able to attend/lead 21 meetings, we were also in town on Tuesday, 2/12/19 when the US Senate overwhelmingly passed (with a vote of 98-8) S.47
, a sweeping conservation bill that would designate more than 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, create 4 national monuments, and would permanently re-authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“It touches every state, features the input of a wide coalition of our colleagues, and
has earned the support of a broad, diverse coalition of many advocates for public
lands, economic development and conservation,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch
At the time of this newsletter, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act has also passed the House, and is expected to be signed into law by the President in early March. While this package of legislation is not without its flaws, the consensus is that, on balance, it represents a conservation win that the readers of this newsletter should be encouraged by.
Finally, the FTA owes a special thanks to members of our volunteer Board of Directors (past and current) who travel up to DC each year (at their own expense) to participate in this meaningful work. Thank you!