HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CDT!

The Continental Divide Trail Turns 41 and all it wants for it's birthday is to be completed, so let’s fully fund LWCF.

By Patrick Webber | Co-Founder of Fourpoints Bar November 10, 2019
In 1978 Congress amended the National Trails System Act with passage of The National Parks and Recreational Land Act and in doing so recognized the CDT for the first time, albeit without any funding.
The trail “spans 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada, traverses five states and connects countless communities along its spine. Over the past 30 years it has gradually assumed a marked physical shape; and preserves and celebrates an opportunity for adventure and history with one of the most significant features on our planet.” ~ Continental Divide Trail Coalition, whose mission is to complete, protect, and promote the CDT. Learn more at https://continentaldividetrail.org/about-the-trail/
 
Although the trail is 95% complete, at age 41, shouldn’t the crown jewel of the US trail system be 100% finished? Currently, approximately 180 miles of the CDT are simply routed along the side of dangerous highways and county roads due to gaps in public land. -Amanda Wheelock, CDTC. Should we really be surprised that Congress has failed to fully fund, or complete something that was promised to the American people?
Take the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF, for example. The program puts to use a portion of offshore oil and gas drilling fees, for protection of public lands, safeguarding watersheds, lakes & rivers, recreational access, state & local parks...you get the idea. LWCF has protected land in all 50 states and helped close funding gaps on National Park and USFS trail projects. LWCF is vital to the completion of the CDT because it’s the only real funding tool available to purchase tracts of private land, in areas where no public lands exist for the CDT to traverse. -Amanda Wheelock, CDTC
Now Congress made LWCF permanent this year but failed to guarantee the full and permanent funding of the program that would likely ensure the completion of the CDT. So, why then when $900 million is collected from these oil and gas leases, does $900 million not get appropriated to land, water, or conservation? That’s a great question for all of us to ask our respective Representatives and Senators!
 
Every year money gets siphoned off from LWCF while projects go unfinished, budgets requests from forest districts get denied, and trails go unmaintained by the shorthanded and underfunded
caretakers of our National Forests. All problematic issues that could be resolved if our lawmakers would deposit into our nation’s public lands bank account, the amount promised. Feels a bit like the NFL wrote the contract, $900M a year, maybe $360M guaranteed, but only if they don’t find somewhere else to spend it. So let’s give the CDT the birthday present it deserves and demand a fully guaranteed contract from Congress for LWCF.
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