How the Proposed Federal Budget Hurts Trails
President Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 includes significant cuts to programs that impact trails and the natural places they allow us to access.
There is no doubt the federal government’s role in the protection of public lands is in question. Broadly, the administration’s 2018 budget cuts threatening the public lands and trails we love include:
- 84% cut to the Land & Water Conservation Fund
- 84% cut to the trails program of the U.S. Forest Service
- 26% cut to the Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Lands
- 13% cut to National Park Service
- 5% cut to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Refuge Visitor Services
The House of Representatives proposed a less damaging budget for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and related agencies, but cuts to these programs would still be felt on the ground.
Closer to home, the most direct threat to the work of the Trail Conference is the President’s proposed elimination of AmeriCorps. This program provides the structure of the Trail Conference Conservation Corps and the funding to provide AmeriCorps Education Awards to our Corps members. The Trail Conference Conservation Corps leveraged 602 community volunteers in over 5,132 hours of service last season. Together, our Corps members and volunteers inventoried and maintained more than 124 miles of trail, improved/built over 4 miles of trail, and improved over 70 acres of our public lands.
The good news is the House agrees that defunding AmeriCorps is a bad idea, and has proposed sustaining the national service program.
Lawmakers are still debating appropriations for the 2018 federal budget, which means there is still time to make your voice heard. We encourage you to let your representatives know the importance of trails and public lands in your life. Here’s how:
The American Hiking Society has put together excellent talking points to encourage Congress to adequately fund trails.
Voices for National Service has a very useful toolkit for taking action to save AmeriCorps, including template letters to your representatives. Email, call, or tweet Congress right from this page.
Help us take a stand for responsible access to public open space. Through a commitment to making a difference on trail lands in our region, we can all secure the value in our trails, our parks, and our connection with nature.