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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

Friday, January 19, 2001
Contact: Jim Pinkelman, (202) 366-0660
FHWA 7-01

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Praises President's Executive Order on Trails

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today said an executive order on trails that was issued by President Clinton will help the U.S. Department of Transportation to build on the Millennium Legacy Trails initiative.

"The Millennium Legacy Trails symbolize the spirit of our efforts to connect our nation's culture, heritage and communities," Secretary Slater said. "The President's order will be of great help as federal agencies, state and local partners, and the American people work toward the goal of establishing a nationwide network of trails."

The President's order instructs federal agencies to work with states, municipalities, tribes and private groups to protect, connect, promote, and assist trails of all kinds throughout the country. The order also instructs the Federal Interagency Council on Trails to coordinate information and program decisions, as well as policy recommendations, to foster development of America's trails. The council, established in 1969, is an interagency working group that includes the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Park Service, the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, and the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Also completed this month was a memorandum of understanding for the administration and management of National Historic and National Scenic Trails. The memorandum was signed by FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle, National Park Service Director Robert Stanton, BLM Acting Director Nina Hatfield, Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck, and William Ivey, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The purpose of the memorandum is to encourage long-term interagency coordination and cooperation to further the spirit and intent of the National Trails System Act by preserving and strengthening the visitor satisfaction, administration, management, protection, cultural enhancement, cooperation, partnerships, and funding of those lands and resources associated with the national trails.

At a White House ceremony on Oct. 21, 1999, Secretary Slater joined First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and state and local officials from across the country to announce 50 Millennium Legacy Trails in 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Millennium Trails initiative is a collaborative effort of the White House Millennium Council, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Private sector companies and other agencies and organizations also have contributed funds toward the initiative.

"Millennium Trails are a way to connect America's past to its future," Wykle said. "This order will help us to build and maintain long-distance trails, rail and water trails, greenway systems and other historical and cultural trails, all of which are a vital part of our nation's heritage."

Examples of Millennium Legacy Trails around the country include the California Coastal Trail, which runs more than 1,200 miles along the scenic California coast; Florida's National Scenic Trail, which runs the length of the state from Gulf Islands National Seashore to Big Cypress National Preserve; and Wisconsin's Hank Aaron State Trail, named after the legendary home run king, which is a six-mile urban trail passing through a historic industrial and ethnically diverse section of Milwaukee.

The executive order advises agencies to:

  • Provide trail opportunities of all kinds with minimum adverse impacts and maximum benefits for natural, cultural, and community resources;
  • Protect the trail corridors associated with national scenic trails and the high priority potential sites and segments of national historic trails to the degrees necessary to ensure that the values for which each trail was established remain intact;
  • Coordinate maps and data for the components of the national trails system and Millennium Trails network to ensure that these trails are connected into a national system and that they benefit from appropriate national programs;
  • Promote and register National Recreation Trails, as authorized in the National Trails System Act, by incorporating where possible the commitments and partners active with Millennium Trails; and
  • Participate in National Trails Day the first Saturday of June each year, coordinating federal events with the National Trails Day's sponsoring organization, the American Hiking Society.

The order also encourages federal agencies to provide information about the national system of trails and the Millennium Trails network; foster volunteer programs and opportunities to engage volunteers in all aspects of trail planning, development, maintenance, management, and education as outlined in federal law; encourage participation of qualified youth conservation or service corps; and provide historical and cultural information about trails.

The Federal Interagency Council on Trails is instructed to:

  • Enhance federally designated trails of all kinds (e.g., scenic, historic, recreation, and Millennium) and work to integrate these trails into a fully connected national system;
  • Coordinate mapping, signs and markers, historical and cultural interpretations, public information, training, and developing plans and recommendations for a national trails registry and database;
  • Ensure that trail issues are integrated in federal agency programs and that technology transfer and education programs are coordinated at the national level; and
  • Develop a memorandum of understanding among the agencies to encourage long-term interagency coordination and cooperation to further the spirit and intent of the National Trails System Act and related programs.


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