We are thrilled that President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law on August 4 — committing the federal government to provide $900 million per year to acquire park and forest land and $9.5 billion over the next five years for priority repairs in national parks and forests.
These funds will make such a difference all over the United States, and they can be a very big help for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. On federal lands, they will improve trailheads and repair trails. And most importantly for the MST, they can be used to buy land to move the trail off the road in the Piedmont and in the Coastal Plain.
So many people have worked for years to build support for this bill, and in the end it received impressive bipartisan support in Congress and from the President.
North Carolina’s Senator Richard Burr deserves particular thanks. Establishing permanent conservation funding has been one of his highest priorities, and he worked tirelessly for it for many years. The bill would not have happened without his advocacy.
Others in the North Carolina delegation who voted for the bill are:
Senator Thom Tillis
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Jr.
Rep. Gregory Murphy, Jr.
Rep. David Price
Rep. Virginia Foxx
Rep. Patrick McHenry
Rep. Alma Adams
Rep. Ted Budd
Two other North Carolinians – Tom Cors from The Nature Conservancy and Jay Leutze of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy – also deserve special thanks. They were both at yesterday’s bill signing ceremony at the White House because of the role they played nationwide. Kate Dixon vividly remembers Tom Cors receiving a call from Senator Burr about this bill when she and Tom were driving together to a meeting in Eden back in 2012. Tom and Jay were untiring and always optimistic – keeping groups like Friends of MST informed and involved over the many years it took to pass the bill.
So now the bill has passed, we at Friends of the MST can redouble our efforts to acquire land and easements to build new MST sections. We welcome you to make a gift to support this important work.