Daines’ Bill to Improve Access to Montana’s Outdoors Heads to President’s Desk

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today hailed the U.S. Senate’s unanimous passage of his legislation to improve maintenance of Montana’s National Forest trails. 

The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act would ensure existing Forest Service resources are better used to maintain National Forest trails. It would also significantly increase the role of volunteers and local partners in maintaining the usability and sustainability of the National Forest trail system.

“Too many of our National Forest trails are left unmaintained, making it difficult for Montanans to enjoy our state’s treasured lands,” Daines stated. “This bill will make incremental progress in protecting and maintain our nation’s trail system so Montanans can continue to enjoy and appreciate our public lands for generations to come.”

Only one-quarter of the 158,000 miles of National Forest trails are actively maintained by the Forest Service, preventing Montanans from using many designated trails for hiking, hunting, mountain biking, motorized vehicle use, horseback riding and other outdoor activities. The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act requires the development of a national strategy to maximize the use of volunteers and local partners in trail maintenance, while also addressing liability concerns that restrict outside groups and individuals working on National Forest trails. 

This legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives with Congressman Ryan Zinke’s support on September 26, 2016. It now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

The bill is supported by dozens of sportsmen, recreation, conservation, and governance groups in Montana and across the country. Below is a partial list:

Governmental Organizations

Western Governors’ Association

Montana Association of Counties 

Recreation Organizations

American Council of Snowmobile Associations

American Motorcyclist Association

American Whitewater 

Agricultural Organizations

Rural and Agricultural Council of America

United States Cattlemen’s Association

Outfitters and Guides

America Outdoors Association

Montana Outfitters and Guides Association

Professional Wilderness Outfitters Association

Back Country Horsemen of Montana 

Hunting and Fishing Organizations

Montana Wildlife Federation

National Wild Turkey Federation

National Wildlife Federation

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Trout Unlimited 

Conservation Organizations

Montana Wilderness Alliance

Natural Resources Defense Council

The Wilderness Society

Wyoming Outdoor Council

Trails Organizations

American Hiking Society

Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Corvallis-to-the-Sea Trails Partnership

National Coast Trail Association 

Other Organizations

Assoc. of Outdoor Recreation and Education