Legislation to complete the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail was heard before the Senate National Parks Subcommittee earlier today
GOLDEN, CO (JUNE 21, 2023) — Today, the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act (S.594) received a hearing in the U.S. Senate before the National Parks Subcommittee. Introduced by Senator Martin Heinrich (NM) and Senator Steve Daines (MT) earlier this year, the bill’s sponsors both delivered glowing comments in support of the bill. If passed, the legislation will help support agencies, partners, and local communities to coordinate the stewardship of lands where gaps still exist along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT), prioritizing completion by the trail’s 50th anniversary in 2028.
“We are thrilled to see the resounding bipartisan support for the completion of the CDT,” says L. Fisher (they/them), Acting Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC). “The shared vision for a continuous CDT as detailed by Senator Daines and Senator Heinrich in today’s hearing demonstrates the urgency and importance of trail completion for communities in the Rocky Mountain West. More than just a trail, the CDT’s impact can be directly seen in the economic vitality of gateway communities, the connections made by friends and family on their public lands, and the histories and stories of the Continental Divide that are preserved in perpetuity by this bill.”
After more than four decades of dedicated stewardship from agencies, communities, partners, and volunteers, approximately 160 miles of the 3,100-mile long CDT remain incomplete in the trail states of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Priority gaps include an area surrounding Muddy Pass near Steamboat Springs, Colorado; a section connecting the CDT near Butte, Montana; and a large gap in the area of Pie Town, New Mexico. Many of these gaps are sections of the trail where recreationists are diverted onto roads and busy highways, which are not safe or enjoyable for trail travelers or motorists.
Among prospective projects for land managers and partner agencies, this legislation will encourage prioritization of these gap sections, and it will ensure coordination and collaboration are emphasized between communities, private landowners, and local leaders, who are all crucial to the successful stewardship of the Continental Divide and the CDT. In a 2022 survey of businesses in CDT communities, one of the top priorities of business owners was the completion and connectivity of the trail. As a vital economic and cultural resource for rural Rocky Mountain communities, once completed, the trail will provide a 3,100-mile greenway corridor connecting five states, 20 National Forests, 25 Wilderness Areas, three National Parks, two National Monuments and 21 CDT Gateway Communities.
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About the Continental Divide Trail
The CDT is one of the world’s premiere long-distance trails, stretching 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide. Designated by Congress in 1978, the CDT is the highest, most challenging and most remote of the 11 National Scenic Trails. It provides recreational opportunities ranging from hiking to horseback riding to hunting for thousands of visitors each year. While 95% of the CDT is located on public land, approximately 150 miles are still in need of protection.
About the Continental Divide Trail Coalition
The CDTC was founded in 2012 by volunteers and recreationists hoping to provide a unified voice for the Trail. Working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Forest Service and other federal land management agencies, the CDTC is a non-profit partner supporting stewardship of the CDT. The mission of the CDTC is to complete, promote and protect the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, a world-class national resource. For more information, please visit continentaldividetrail.org.