Buckeye National Scenic Trail Feasibility Study Act of 2021
STATEMENT OF HERBERT C. FROST, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR INTERIOR REGIONS 3, 4 & 5, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS CONCERNING H.R. 6142, A BILL TO AMEND THE NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM ACT TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO CONDUCT A STUDY ON THE FEASIBILITY OF DESIGNATING THE BUCKEYE TRAIL AS A NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL.
February 3, 2022
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 6142, a bill to amend the National Trails System Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Buckeye Trail as a National Scenic Trail.
The Department supports H.R. 6142 with amendments described later in this testimony. We would like to note that there are currently 23 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
The National Trails System currently includes 30 congressionally designated national scenic trails and national historic trails spanning over 55,000 miles across the nation. National scenic trails display significant characteristics of the nation’s physiographic regions. They provide for outdoor recreation and for the conservation and enjoyment of scenic, historic, natural or cultural qualities.
The Buckeye Trail is comprised of a system of routes creating a loop extending approximately 1,454 miles from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, through the farmland of northwest Ohio, the hills of Appalachia, the Black Hand sandstone cliffs of the Hocking Hills region, and the Bluegrass region of southwest Ohio. H.R. 6142 would authorize a study of the Buckeye Trail to be conducted in accordance with the criteria for national scenic trail studies under the National Trails System Act and would include a determination as to whether it would be physically and financially feasible to develop a trail along the route being studied.
While the Department supports authorizing this feasibility study, we would appreciate the opportunity to work with the bill sponsor and the Subcommittee to ensure that the bill provides the necessary flexibility to assign responsibility for the study to the appropriate Federal land management agency and to consider the most appropriate options for the potential administration of the trail. A significant portion of the Buckeye Trail in Ohio overlaps with the authorized route of the existing North Country National Scenic Trail that is administered by the National Park Service. A portion of the trail route is also located on lands owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Regardless of which agency conducts the study, that agency will be required to consult with all other affected land management agencies, as provided for in the National Trails System Act.
We would be happy to work with the bill sponsor, the Subcommittee, and our colleagues with the U.S. Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture to determine what, if any, amendments may be needed to provide the necessary flexibility in the bill language.
Chairman Neguse, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.