In celebration of National Trails Day on June 3, we are highlighting some of the work being done in the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) landscape. Over the past decade, the CDTC’s mission to complete, protect, and promote this iconic trail has fostered growth, connection, and community-centric conservation. CDTC is committed to creating a more inclusive model for collaboration– one that benefits all parties that recreate, reside, and utilize resources along the CDT.
By L. Fischer (they/them) | CDTC Trail Policy Manager
One of the biggest achievements that the Continental Divide Trail Coalition celebrates every year is the ever-growing success of the shared stewardship model. This collaborative approach continues to invest and foster the resiliency of the National Trail System. As one of ten priority areas identified in the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) 10-Year Trail Stewardship Challenge, for trails like the CDT, the importance of the model and the prioritization of our National Trails has never been more evident.
Year after year, CDT Gateway Communities, conservation and youth corps, recreationists, volunteers, and other members of the trail community work alongside the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to not only complete the trail, but to actively steward the trail and connect with those enjoying the CDT Experience. CDTC celebrated this continued collaboration with all our agency partners, including USFS as well as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Park Service (NPS), and highlighted potential ways to see that collaboration continue to grow.
Each year, Congress allocates money to the National Trail System through the agencies that manage each year. In 2023, of the almost $ 1.6 million allocated by Congress to USFS for the management of the CDT, $452,000 went to partners, with $250,000 of that going to CDTC.
CDTC was able to leverage those funds into a 10/1 Return on Investment to the American public. Here’s how it breaks down:
$1.8 million dollars in private dollars (grants, donations, etc.), &
76,000 volunteer hours valued at $2.29 million (combined with partners, delivered),
… for a combined total of almost $4.5 million.
This means that for the $452,000 invested in the CDT by Congress, the CDTC and trail community were able to leverage that into a value of nearly $4.5 million. CDTC was excited to celebrate this collaboration with the biggest Return on Investment to the American people on behalf of the CDT yet. That is not only an amazing accomplishment from all partners, communities, and volunteers involved, but helps us to continue to advocate for that investment from Congress to continue to grow so that together with our agencies, we can prioritize things like trail completion, landscape protection and connectivity, and outdoor access for all who want to experience the CDT.
To stay informed on the latest developments impacting the CDT and learn more about opportunities to use your voice, sign-up for advocacy alerts and mark “Speaking Up for the Trail”.
To learn more about CDTC’s priorities, you can read the full 2023 CDTC Congressional Report.