This latest storm has provided Vermont with another ample snowfall. Winter enthusiasts are grateful to have a fresh blanket on which to play and compete.
Looking outside this morning, it is hard to think about hiking and backpacking around the lush Green Mountains. Those days are right around the corner and provide their own opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
From a health perspective, Vermont’s natural resources are boundless. They are among our state’s greatest assets and pump millions of dollars in revenue into our communities and state coffers. By all accounts, there are no reasons not to have even more means to those ends.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat, along with his Republican counterpart, Rep. Pete Stauber, of Minnesota, reintroduced legislation to extend the North Country National Scenic Trail from Crown Point, New York, into Addison County, linking it to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail via Vermont’s Long Trail.
The Senate and the House are expected to approve public lands legislation that incorporates Welch’s bill, clearing the way for President Trump to sign it into law.
“Vermont has unparalleled natural beauty that provides us with year-round opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors by trail,” said Welch in a statement. “And as hosts to both the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail, we have a rich tradition of trail hiking. Connecting the North Country Trail to the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail will provide Vermonters and tourists with even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors through hiking, recreation, tourism and economic development.”
The proposed legislation appears poised toward success.
Welch’s bill was unanimously approved by the House in the last Congress. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and co-sponsored by Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders.
The Senate is expected to approve a comprehensive public lands bill (S. 47) that includes the North Country Trails legislation. And the House is expected to pass the public lands bill soon after. The rest will be up to the president.
The North Country National Scenic Trail, or NCNST, established in 1980, is one of 11 designated National Scenic Trails administered by the National Park Service. It currently links scenic, natural, historic and cultural areas across seven states stretching from North Dakota to New York. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, or ANST, extends from Georgia to Maine, traversing Vermont.
Both trails are very popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
In addition to extending the NCNST into Vermont and connecting it to the ANST via the Long Trail, the bill also incorporates more than 400 miles of existing Minnesota trails into the system, Welch pointed out.
The North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act has the support of environmental and conservation groups, as well as the communities through which the trail extension will pass.
At a time when partisan politics feels like it’s on a solo path heading into gridlock, it is encouraging to see bipartisan legislation being put forth that actually enriches the lives of everyday Americans. In fact, we would go so far as to say it is a relief.
In his years as a congressman, Welch has worked endlessly to reach across the aisle. For rural states, like Vermont and Minnesota, legislation like this makes a difference. We commend him on that ongoing effort, and for the reintroduction of this valuable bill.
We hope the legislation clears the necessary hurdles in both chambers of Congress, and that President Trump sees the value of a bill that keeps the economic engine going by providing jobs and promoting well-being at the same time.
This act literally puts Vermont back on the map. That’s the kind of uphill thinking we can get behind.