FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 15, 2014
CONTACT: Jamie Serlin at 202-224-5042
Senators Coons, Kirk introduce bill to designate nation’s first coast-to-coast trail
American Discovery Trail stretches 6,800 miles from Delaware to California
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced legislation Thursday to bring national recognition to the American Discovery Trail – the nation’s only coast-to-coast, non-motorized recreational trail. The National Discovery Trails Act of 2014 would make the American Discovery Trail part of the National Trails System, bringing greater visibility to the trail and boosting tourism in local communities across 15 states and the District of Columbia. The official designation would also allow non-governmental organizations to post signs directing hikers and bikers navigating the trail.
“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,” Senator Coons said. “I’m 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. Bringing national recognition to the American Discovery Trail will give more Americans the opportunity to enjoy this unique network of trails, beginning in Delaware’s own Cape Henlopen State Park.”
"Illinois is the crossroads of our nation, and our unique network of trails connects rural and urban communities to nature," Senator Kirk said. "With two routes stretching across our state – including through the Quad Cities, LaSalle and Joliet in Northern Illinois, and Chester and the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois – the American Discovery Trail will drive tourism, boost local economies and bring national attention to our state's vast environmental treasures."
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, but no trail linking the network from coast to coast. The National Discovery Trails Act of 2014 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.”
“The American Discovery Trail, which will run from Cape Henlopen State Park to the Point Reyes National Seashore in California, makes trail history here in Delaware,” DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara said at a press conference held last month at Cape Henlopen. “Senator Coons has bolstered – in a big way – our efforts to recognize and utilize all of our special trails in Delaware. This will help Delawareans and visitors alike to enjoy the First State’s great outdoors.”
“I'm very happy to have Senator Coons’ support for the American Discovery Trail,” said American Discovery Trail Society Delaware director Serinda Connor. “Each year we are seeing more and more hikers using this trail. The hope of funding for signage to enhance the trail through all states for these hikers would be a wonderful safety benefit. Thank you Senator Coons for your support and interest!”
The American Discovery Trail is made up of more than 6,800 miles of continuous, multi-use pathways stretching from Delaware’s Cape Henlopen State Park to Pt. Reyes National Seashore, California. The trail splits into northern and southern routes at Cincinnati, Ohio, rejoining at Denver, Colorado.