U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced bipartisan legislation this week to increase national recognition to the American Discovery Trail – the nation’s only coast-to-coast, non-motorized recreational trail.
The National Discovery Trails Act would make the American Discovery Trail part of the National Trails System, which will bring greater visibility to the trail and boost tourism in local communities across 15 states and the District of Columbia. The House companion is led by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and is cosponsored by 64 members, including Indiana delegation members Reps. Trey Hollingsworth (IN-09) and Greg Pence (IN-06).
“The Hoosier state is fortunate enough to have two routes of the American Discovery Trail (ADT) to provide hikers and bicyclists a great outdoor adventure through both northern and southern Indiana,” said Senator Young. “I’m glad to join my colleagues to recognize the importance of this trail which connects small towns, cities, and historical sites at no cost to the taxpayer.”
“The American Discovery Trail connects trails in state parks and federal lands with county roads in rural areas and sidewalks in towns and communities from coast to coast,” said Senator Coons. “I am a strong believer in the value of trails and what they represent: recreation for families, friends, and individuals, tourism and economic development for local parks and towns, and the opportunity to connect communities with the outdoors. Making the American Discovery Trail part of the National Trails system will help more Americans find and enjoy this unique network of trails, which begins in Delaware at the Cape Henlopen State Park.”
“Volunteers are a driving force for conservation and play a vital role in preserving and restoring our land,” said Senator Mike Braun. “I’m proud to introduce legislation with Sen. Coons and Sen. Young to create the first coast-to-coast trail and empower volunteer groups to designate and maintain trails of regional significance in the Hoosier State and across the country!”
The 1968 National Trails System Act created a framework for a national network of connected scenic, historic, and recreational trails. Today, the National Trails System includes eight National Scenic Trails, 15 National Historic Trails, and more than 1000 National Recreational Trails. However, it does not include any trail linking the network from coast to coast. The National Discovery Trails Act would create a new category within the National Trails System for long-distance trails that connect urban areas with outdoor resources, public lands, rural areas, and other communities. The bill would designate the American Discovery Trail the first of this new category of “Discovery Trails.”