20 February 2015

20 February 2015

I was in Washington D.C. in late January to meet with staff of two senators and others about the status of our country’s National Scenic Trails. Here’s a recap:

Wednesday, 28 January 2015:

I had breakfast with Chuck Sloan, Vienna, VA, of counsel for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Chuck is a past president of the American Hiking Society and has helped hiking clubs with legal issues virtually all his life. I wanted to be sure he was comfortable with the mission statement of Hiking Trails for America. We talked about how the Appalachian Trail has secured a continuous footpath from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine but that the other 10 National Scenic Trails have no such continuity assured them. Chuck is on-board with the need to finish the job.

That afternoon I visited the staff of Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida. I met with Abby Tinsley and Erik Kamrath, pointing out that Congress had created the legal frame-work for National Scenic Trails in the Acts of 1968 and 1978, had funded the acquisition of the Appalachian Trail rights-of-way and now needed to properly fund the purchase of rights-of-way for the remaining 10 trails.

I was able to get an appointment with the staff of Senator Martin Heinrich, D, NM. I met with Zach Aronow the second time. (Maya Hermann, whom I met in an earlier visit, was “counting votes on the Keystone Pipeline” and was not available.)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Larry Luxenberg, Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, the author of Walking the Appalachian Trail and founder of the Appalachian Trail Museum in Gardners, PA, joined me for meetings on Thursday. He is on the board of Hiking Trails for America.

We had breakfast with Jim Wolf, founder of the Continental Divide Trail Society, and discussed right-of-way issues for this 3600-mile trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.

After a quick lunch, we met with Don King in Martinsburg, WV, Chief of Land Acquisition for the A.T. We asked him questions about the challenges of acquiring all 700 miles of A.T. right-of-way needed to complete this continuous route. We also discussed trail right-of-way acquisition issues in California, Florida and elsewhere.

Late in the afternoon we caught up with Ron Tipton in Harpers Ferry, WV, Executive Director of the A.T. Conservancy, to discuss current issues the A.T. faces now that its right-of-way is continuous. We also told Ron that we think the whole Appalachian Trail history and success should serve as a template for the other 10 trails.

By 4:00 AM Friday, I was back in bed at my home on Capo Island in St. Augustine. A very busy (and productive) two days.

Jim Kern

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