Nolan’s North Country Scenic Trails Bill passes House Natural Resources Committee

Bill would help put the finishing touches on a unified 4,600-mile national hiking trail system from North Dakota to New England and the East Coast
The House Natural Resources Committee today unanimously passed U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s bipartisan bill (H.R. 1026) to incorporate the more than 400 miles of Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route Trail and the Kekekabic Trail into the North Country National Scenic Trail. The measure, which will proceed to the full House for final passage, brings the trail’s total length to approximately 4,600 miles and extends the route into Vermont from its current terminus near Crown Point, NY.
Nolan noted that the plan doesn’t involve any new dollars or require taking any land through eminent domain or condemnation. The new route skirts around and protects about 100 miles of environmentally sensitive bogs and wetlands that had been included in an earlier suggested route but had not been built.
“The North Country National Scenic Trail stretches from the plains of North Dakota through Minnesota’s Arrowhead all the way to the forests of Vermont – and, when linked to the Appalachian Trail under our bill – as far north as Maine, and as far south as Georgia,” Nolan explained. “It’s a system that combines environmental protection and stewardship and promotes good paying jobs, tourism and healthy recreation.”
“Here in Minnesota,” Nolan added, “our trails provide an extra boost to a $13.6 billion annual tourism economy that already supports 254,000 good paying jobs. Why? Because trail users get hungry and thirsty, so they spend money in our restaurants. They get tired, so they spend money staying in our hotels. They need supplies, so they patronize local businesses. Visitors fall in love with our region, so they return again and again.”
The American Hiking Association recently completed a study showing that when all the dollars spent on trail recreation work through the economy, the multiplier effect reaches $196 billion a year – supporting 768,000 good paying jobs nationwide.
Nolan further noted that “experts tell us that for youngsters, hiking in the great outdoors helps alleviate something called the ‘nature deficit,’ a fancy term that means kids don’t go outside much anymore. In fact, according to one study, the average kid in America today spends 7 minutes of every day outside, and 7 hours in front of a computer screen or a TV set. Getting outside hiking is great for everyone’s physical and mental health – kids and adults alike. And it’s good for our economic health as well.”
The bill has 36 cosponsors, including the entire Minnesota Congressional Delegation, as well as the strong support of Members of Congress along the trail corridor.