U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary

03/14/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/15/2019 18:45

Feinstein, Blumenthal, Warren, Baldwin and Connolly Introduce Bicameral Complete America's Great Trails Act

Washington - Today, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Representative Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) announced the introduction of the Complete America's Great Trails Act to help expand and preserve National Scenic Trails, including two trails that run through Connecticut. The legislation would give tax credits to landowners who voluntarily make land contributions towards the completion of America's national trail system.

Administered by the National Park Service or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, National Scenic Trails span 18,249 miles across 30 states and the District of Columbia and host millions of visitors each year. Since 1968, the total number of trails has grown from only the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails to 11 culturally significant national trails.

Two National Scenic Trails run through Connecticut - the Appalachian Trail, which extends 52 miles across the state from Salisbury in the north to Sherman in the south, and the New England Trail, which extends 117 miles across the state from Suffield in the north to Guilford in the south.

'I'm proud to cosponsor the Complete America's Great Trails Act. The West in particular is home to many trails including the magnificent 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs the length of the West Coast and draws millions of visitors to California, Oregon and Washington each year. These trails boost local economies and provide wonderful recreational opportunities. Encouraging private land owners to donate property will help protect these trails and create new ones for future generations to enjoy,' said Senator Feinstein.

'It's more important than ever to preserve and expand our nation's unique and precious natural landscape,' Blumenthal said. 'This bill would will encourage and reward Americans who donate their property to the national trail system, protecting existing trails and adding more opportunities for more people to enjoy the great outdoors.'

'National Scenic Trails connect America's greatest places. From Yellowstone to the Everglades, these 11 trails cross dozens of states and more than 100 congressional districts,' said Rep. Gerry Connolly. 'The Complete America's Great Trails Act is an important opportunity to protect and preserve our public landscape for future generations, and I thank Senator Blumenthal for his leadership on this issue.'

'One of the best things about living in Massachusetts is the opportunity to get outside and explore our state's natural beauty,' said Senator Warren. 'This bill will help us expand the National Scenic Trail system, so everyone in Massachusetts can enjoy the outdoors.'

The Complete America's Great Trails would provide landowners who voluntarily make land contributions towards the completion of National Scenic Trails would get a tax credit equal to the fair market value of the portion of land. The legislation would also order the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study measuring the efficacy of the tax credit in extending and improving the conservation of these trails.

'We are excited about the potential for the Complete America's Great Trails Act to both protect many miles of the New England National Scenic Trail (NET) and help fill-in unprotected gaps in other national scenic trails. Approximately 40% of the NET winds through unprotected lands, and it will take an extra incentive like this tax credit to encourage landowners to protect this beautiful trail forever,' said Connecticut Forest and Park Association Executive Director Eric Hammerling. 'The tax credit in CAGTA provides the extra incentive necessary for private landowners to protect the New England National Scenic Trail corridor, and we thank Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Connelly for leading the charge as champions for this bill.'

The full text of the bill is available here.

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