National Forest Foundation Kicks Off “Summer of Trails” Campaign

Kicking off a summer-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act, the National Forest Foundation (NFF), today, announced its “Summer of Trails” campaign. Summer of Trails is a five-month long campaign to raise awareness and funds for maintaining and improving trails across America’s National Forests and Grasslands. The National Forests and Grasslands host the largest trail system in the country, with more than 158,000 miles of trails—including the iconic Pacific Crest, Appalachian and Continental Divide Trails and shorter trails beloved by communities from Alaska to Florida.

The Forest Service has struggled to maintain this vast trail system. Budgetary constraints, driven largely by ever-increasing wildfire-fighting costs, have hampered the agency’s maintenance efforts and have led to a significant trail-maintenance backlog. In 2016, Congress passed the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, directing the Forest Service to improve its trail maintenance, but the bill provided no additional trail funding to the agency.

The Summer of Trails goal is simple: improve conditions on the National Forest’s incredible trail system. By educating Americans about National Forest trails, and by capitalizing on the 50th Anniversary of the legislation that established America’s world-class system of National Scenic and Historic Trails, the NFF hopes to turn the love that Americans have for their trails into a source of funds to improve trails in each of the nine Forest Service regions.

The NFF hopes to raise $1 million for trail maintenance and improvement across the National Forest System through a crowd-funding campaign. The NFF will invest the funds in local conservation organizations through a competitive grant program. These groups will then use the grants to help maintain and repair National Forest trails across the country. The NFF’s $500,000 crowd-funding goal will be matched with an additional $500,000 by the U.S. Forest Service. The NFF plans to award grants to local conservation groups to begin work improving America’s trails in 2019..

This is from the CrowdRise crowd funding site here:

It’s an ambitious goal, but with your help, we can make a real difference for our trails in 2018. For the price of a post-hike beer or a bottle of Gatorade, you can help us reach our goal.

Think back to the last time you hit up a trail on your local National Forest. Did you climb to a shaded overlook? Did you beat your friend to the top? Did you just amble along and enjoy the hike? What are these memories worth? $5? $10? $50? $100? The campaign runs through the end of September, 2018, so donate every month. Every bit helps!

If you find this campaign inspiring, share it with your trail-loving friends and family. Challenge them to give. Set a goal for your hiking group, maybe $1 for every trail mile you tackle in June. The Forest Service estimates that 84 million people use these trails every year. Imagine how much we could help if every person gave just one dollar!

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