Members of Congress Unite to Support the Appalachian Trail

By Lynn Davis

From left: Congressman Don Beyer and Congressman Phil Roe (right) on the A.T.

Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) and Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) co-chair the newly organized Appalachian National Scenic Trail Caucus. The bipartisan caucus is organized to unite members in the U.S. House of Representatives in working together for the sustained protection and conservation of the A.T.

Both Congressmen are experienced A.T. hikers. A longtime section hiker, Congressman Beyer recently completed the A.T.’s rugged and challenging treadway through the White Mountains in New Hampshire. And Congressman Roe frequently hikes the A.T. for its beauty and as part of his physical conditioning to summit one or two 14,000-foot mountaintops each year in the western United States.

Both Congressmen recognize the importance of the A.T. in providing recreational access to millions of Americans, in welcoming travelers from around the world, and in sustaining healthy economies in communities along the Trail. The caucus kicks off as the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act nears in 2018. The Act, passed by Congress in 1968, recognized the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails for their scenic and recreational qualities, and set up the creation of additional nationally recognized scenic trails, recreation trails, and historic trails. “The A.T. is unique as the longest continuous footpath in the U.S., and as an avid outdoorsman, I care deeply about preserving our natural resources so they can be enjoyed for generations to come,” says Congressman Roe.

“All of the Members whose district contains a portion of the A.T. are vested in working together to protect the Trail in its entirety. You might say this is a ‘one for all and all for one’ caucus in looking out for all parts of the Trail.” Congressman Don Beyer adds: “The A.T. is a demonstrable part of America’s heritage and our contemporary life. It is a symbol of achievement for those who make it their mission to hike its entire length, whether one long continuous walk or a section at a time. And it is a destination for picnics, day hikes, and camping trips.” “I anticipate the caucus will be dealing with increased visitation and accompanying increased maintenance demands, along with assuring that the Trail is appropriately funded,” says Beyer.