Daines’ Bipartisan Bill to Complete Continental Divide Trail One Step Closer to Becoming Law

Bill Passes Out of Senate Committee with Strong Bipartisan Support

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines spoke at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing following the passage of his bipartisan “Continental Divide Trail Completion Act.” The bill directs the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior to prioritize completion of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) by the trail’s 50th anniversary in 2028.

Watch and download Daines’ opening remarks HERE.

“This is an important bill. It’s going to help spur recreation, economic development, grow new jobs, as well as helping our local gateway communities. You know, the tourism recreation economy that’s generated from this bill supports our small businesses, and it supports jobs throughout the state of Montana.

“However, because of the checkerboard nature of land ownership in Montana and other states, there are areas of the trail where hikers are forced to walk along highways, even cross dangerous intersections to keep the connectivity. This bipartisan bill will bridge these gaps, figuratively and literally, by working with local communities and expanding resources and partnerships.

“It will also strictly prohibit the use of eminent domain for acquisitions, ensuring that private property rights are protected as we expand public access at the same time. I very much look forward to working with my colleagues to take this bill to the Senate floor to get on the President’s desk.” 

The Senator introduced the “Continental Divide Trail Completion Act” with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

Senator Daines and Senator Heinrich also introduced this legislation in the 117th Congress.

See the full text of the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act HERE.


Designated by Congress as part of the National Trail System in 1978, the CDT stretches more than 3,000 miles and passes through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Idaho. The trail follows the Continental Divide and transverses some of the nation’s most treasured natural, historic, and cultural resources.

Since the CDT’s creation, stakeholders have worked tirelessly to complete the trail. Today, more than 160 miles of the trail require diversions onto roadways and highways, and 600 miles of the trail require relocation. Closing these gaps and relocating these segments will help better maintain the trail’s purpose while ensuring a safer and more enjoyable journey for visitors.

The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act would:

  • Direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to establish a Trail Completion Team. This team will be responsible for conducting optimal location reviews, identifying land for acquisition, and working with willing sellers to acquire land. It will include U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff working with the CDT Administrator. 
  • Recognize the value of cooperation between federal land managers, states, Tribes, towns, and others. The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act directs USFS and BLM to maintain close partnerships with stakeholders in developing, maintaining, and managing the trail.
  • State that eminent domain will not be used to complete the trail. Land to complete the trail may only be acquired from willing sellers. 

Daines’ bill is supported by several groups and businesses including:

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trust for Public Land, Montana Conservation Corp, Wild Montana, City-County of Butte-Silver Bow, Helena Chamber of Commerce, Glacier County Regional Tourism, Butte-Silver Bow Convention and Visitors Bureau, Butte-Silver Bow Tourism Business Improvement District, Butte CDT Gateway Committee, Helena Tourism Business Improvement District, Downtown Helena Inc., Pintler’s Portal Hostel, East Ridge Foundation of Rotary Club Butte, Lincoln Valley Chamber of Commerce, Anaconda Trail Society, Linked Adventures, Blackfoot River Brewing Co, Partnership for the National Trail System, American Hiking Society, Backcountry Horsemen of America, REI Co-op, and many more.