Trail Connecting Montana To The Pacific Closer To Completion

In the wilds of the Northwest, a trail is taking shape. Designated by an act of Congress in 2009, the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail, founded by Ron Strickland, winds 1,200 miles from Glacier National Park in Montana to Cape Alava on Washington’s Pacific coast. Along the way, the trail passes through the Rocky Mountains, Eastern Washington, the North Cascades, and the Olympic Mountains. It crosses three national parks and seven national forests. Like such well-known western routes as the Pacific Crest Trail, it passes largely through public lands managed by states, tribes, and agencies of the federal government.

But while the general route of the trail is largely set, many decisions will need to be made to refine the trail’s scenic, historical, and environmental impact. For this reason, the trail’s managing agency, the U.S. Forest Service, has decided to convene an advisory council to oversee its development.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a key step this week in completing the Pacific Northwest Trail. Vilsack has named 23 advisers to help finalize the trail corridor, including Jon Knechtel with the Pacific Northwest Trail Association and American West’s founding former director David M. Kennedy.

National Scenic Trails “are extended trails that provide maximum outdoor recreation potential for the conservation and enjoyment of the various qualities,” says Kennedy. It is these qualities that trail managers at the Forest Service and the trail’s advisory council will need to assess and balance with right-of-way and accessibility questions, community interests and impacts, and other concerns.

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