Legislation to improve North Country Scenic Trail route would connect Vermont to North Dakota

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Legislation to improve North Country Scenic Trail route would connect Vermont to North Dakota

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 6:47am -- tim

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced legislation to improve the North Country Scenic Trail. The bill would extend the trail into Vermont, connecting it to the Appalachian Trail, allowing hikers to journey the entire 4,600 miles from North Dakota to Vermont. The trail currently extends from New York to North Dakota. The trial was never built along certain sections in Minnesota because the current route includes wetland areas that are difficult to build through and raises conservation concerns. Klobuchar and Leahy’s legislation revises the authorized trail route to avoid these wetland areas by including existing hiking trails in the Minnesota Arrowhead region in the Boundary Waters and North Shore of Lake Superior.

Leahy said, “The Green Mountains are truly a national treasure, and I’m glad that this proposal will allow more hikers to enjoy the beauty of Vermont.  As an avid hiker myself, I’m excited that Vermont has the opportunity to host the connection of two of our country’s historic trails.”  

Klobuchar said,  “This common sense legislation will use existing scenic trails to make sure Minnesota can finally be a part of the North Country Scenic Trail. Including the Arrowhead region on the trail will boost tourism, benefit local Minnesota businesses and allow people to share in our state’s natural beauty all while conserving our wetlands.”

The North Country National Scenic Trail is the nation’s longest hiking trail, currently running 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota and passing through 12 National Forests. The trail was created by Congress in 1980 and has been largely built by volunteers.

Senator Sanders (I-Vt.) is an original cosponsor of the bill. Representative Welch (D-Vt.) introduced companion legislation in the House with Representative Rick Nolan (MN).

Bruce Matthews, executive director of the North Country Trail Association, said: "The NCNST links and tells the story of America's northern heartlands, its people and places and their collective story in eking a living out of an unforgiving landscape, as well as the joy of recreating in America's Great North Woods. It is fitting to finally connect with our sister Appalachian Trail, and to enable Vermonters to enjoy the recreational, quality of life and economic benefits in now host two national scenic trails."

Original cosponsors to the North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act include Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).  Original cosponsors of companion legislation in the house include Reps. Rick Nolan (D-MN), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Tim Walz (D-MN, and Thomas Petri (R-WI).

WASHINGTON (MONDAY, July 14, 2014) – Senator Leahy