Legislation provides strong support for Wisconsin’s Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In honor of National Park Week, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has championed two bills to improve and protect National Scenic Trails in Wisconsin. Senator Baldwin also participated in the National Park Service and National Park Foundation’s “Find Your Park” social media campaign with a video calling for support of Wisconsin’s parks and trails and by joining the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Friends of the National Park Service Centennial.
Senator Baldwin introduced the National Scenic Trails Parity Act to provide improved management and access to additional funding for Wisconsin’s Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails. Senator Baldwin also cosponsored the Complete America’s Great Trails Act to help lead to the completion of the National Scenic Trails.
“The Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails are strong examples of how Wisconsinites consider conservation and cherishing our natural resources a Wisconsin tradition,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to introduce and support legislation to help increase the pace of trail development and expansion of the Ice Age and North Country Trails to better serve Wisconsinites and drive Wisconsin tourism. Instilling a love of the outdoors in future generations will also help us preserve and protect the great outdoors for years to come.”
"Speaking on behalf of the 35 national trail organizations in the Partnership for the National Trails System, I thank Senator Tammy Baldwin for re-introducing the National Scenic Trails Parity Act,” said Gary Werner, Executive Director of the Partnership for the National Trails System. “The Partnership greatly appreciates Senator Baldwin's persistence in seeking parity within the National Park System for the Ice Age, New England, and North Country National Scenic Trails with the other three national scenic trails administered by the National Park Service. We urge her colleagues in the Senate to support and promptly adopt this important legislation."
“The Ice Age Trail Alliance strongly supports the National Scenic Trails Parity Act as introduced by Senator Baldwin,” said Mike Wollmer, Executive Director & CEO of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. “This bill would substantiate the tireless efforts of our dedicated legions of volunteers as it provides the Ice Age Trail the status it deserves - as a unit of the National Park Service. The Alliance applauds Senator Baldwin for taking the lead on this important legislation.”
"The National Scenic Trails Parity Act matters to our hard-working volunteers who are building, maintaining, protecting and telling the story of our respective National Scenic Trails,” said Bruce Matthews, Executive Director of the North Country Trail Association. “They've watched as our sister National Scenic Trails get recognition and access to resources that they cannot. It’s time to level the playing field for all National Scenic Trails administered by the National Park Service."
The National Scenic Trails Parity Act would make the Ice Age, North Country, and New England National Scenic Trails units of the National Park System, putting them on equal footing with the remaining National Scenic Trails administered by the National Park Service: the Appalachian, Potomac Heritage and Natchez-Trace National Scenic Trails. Without unit status, the Ice Age, North Country and New England National Scenic Trails do not have equal participation in National Park Service funding and other programs.
The Complete America’s Great Trails Act would create a tax credit for landowners who voluntarily make land contributions towards the completion of National Scenic Trails. The tax credit, equal to the fair market value of the portion of land, provides an incentive for landowners to help extend, strengthen the connectivity and improve the maintenance of National Scenic Trails.
The Ice Age Trail is used by 1.25 million people every year and in 2013, volunteers contributed more than 70,000 hours of work. The economic impact of the Ice Age Trail on the state of Wisconsin is approximately $113 million annually. The North Country Trail logged over 77,000 hours of volunteer work in 2013, valued at $1.7 million. The National Scenic Trails in Wisconsin drive economic growth as local construction and contractors that are hired trail funds.