Trails Community Advocacy Secures Consistent Funding in Challenging Environment

Because of the efforts of the trails community including organizations, advocates, and user groups, funding for trail-specific line items in the Fiscal Year 2024, Interior and Related Agencies appropriations will largely remain level year over year, when many other programs and overall land management funding is facing steep cuts. 

While trails and public lands still don’t receive anywhere close to the funding fully needed to fulfill staffing, conservation, or maintenance mandates, the trails community recognizes the position of congressional appropriators and staff to make difficult funding decisions in the current climate. We express our appreciation that the value and importance of trails was recognized in this process to the extent that circumstances allowed. 

While the topline cuts to federal land management agencies, insufficient staffing levels, and the zeroing out of funding for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program within the Department of Transportation will negatively impact the experience of all trail users, the trails community remains dedicated to supporting robust funding for federal land management agencies going forward and ensuring that conservation and recreation receives the funding it desperately needs and deserves. 

The following organizations had this to say about the passage of the FY24 minibus appropriations bill, including Interior and Related Agencies. 

“Through year long advocacy efforts, like Hike the HillⓇ and letters of support from 207 organizations, American Hiking is proud to lead efforts that secured consistent funding for trails year over year.” said Tyler Ray, Senior Director of Programs and Advocacy, American Hiking Society “In this difficult environment, while additional funding for land management agencies and trails are needed, Congress recognized the role that trails play for hikers and all recreationists and helped to ensure that trails can be open and accessible to all.” 

“The American Trails community would like to thank appropriators and legislators for their efforts in maintaining funding levels for key trails and outdoor recreation programs within the Federal land management agencies in what has proven to be one of the most challenging budgeting environments in recent history. This continued funding ensures all Americans have the opportunity to re-create themselves (read “recreate”) on our public lands.” said Mike Passo, Executive Director, American Trails

“In a difficult appropriations environment, Congress has prevented significant reductions to funding for trails, park, and forest operations. While we believe these funding levels are still below necessary levels, we appreciate the support of the A.T. and our public lands system, particularly the encouragement to increase administrative funds for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, “said Brendan Mysliwiec, Director of Federal Policy at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “The ATC urges Congress to approach the President’s FY25 budget request with a greater degree of urgency so that clear direction to and support for the A.T.’s Cooperative Management System is provided in a timely manner.”

“On behalf of the thousands of volunteers who give everything to maintain and keep trails open throughout our public lands, we greatly appreciate the efforts of the House and Senate appropriations committees,” said Mark Himmel, Chairman of Back Country Horsemen of America. “Trails and outdoor recreation comprise a winning bipartisan issue because everyone loves America’s great outdoors. In this spirit, the trails community will continue to work with champions in Congress to enhance access to public lands for everyone.”

“We are thrilled to see that the House and Senate Appropriations Committees provided level funding for federally managed trails. Recreational access to public trails is vital to a myriad of various outdoor recreational enthusiasts. Thank you to the American Hiking Society and all the other trail related organizations that continue to work together to advocate for continued federal support for our public trails.” said Holley Groshek, Executive Director, Equine Land Conservation Resource

“On behalf of the members and users of the Florida National Scenic Trail, I thank  the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for their efforts to maintain funding levels for our trail and others across the country in FY 2024 and look forward to working on the FY 2025 appropriations” said Royce Gibson, Executive Director, Florida Trail Association

“Given the difficulties Congress faces in funding the government, we are pleased to see the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Appropriations recognize the importance of outdoor recreation and our nation’s trails. By sustaining current year’s funding levels from FY23, Congress has proven it is serious about investing in our federal public lands, and that investment will lead to more opportunities for people to experience the outdoors.” said Todd Keller, Director of Government Affairs, International Mountain Bicycling Association

“The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance extends much appreciation to House and Senate Appropriators for recognizing the importance of funding our nation’s trails amidst a challenging funding environment that saw cuts across land management agencies,” said Joelle Marier, Executive Director of National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance. “This funding supports crucial programs that put boots on the ground and engage thousands of volunteers in trail stewardship, keeping trails accessible and safe for all to enjoy.” 

“Many thanks to House and Senate appropriators for holding the line on trails funding for the 2024 budget under difficult circumstances,” said Mark Larabee, Advocacy Director for the nonprofit Pacific Crest Trail Association, which marshals thousands of dedicated volunteers and raises millions in private donations to maintain and help manage the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. “Americans need and deserve great outdoor recreation spaces. But federal budgets have not kept pace with the need. Fully staffed and well-funded land management agencies are essential to fulfilling the complex conservation, maintenance, and management responsibilities of our great public lands and trails.”