Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

North Country Trail Gains Willing Seller Authority!

graphic of House passing the Omnibus Public Lands Bill
compiled from various sources

After more than a dozen years of disappointment, it seems that dreams really do come true. Year after year a bill has been introduced in one house of Congress to authorize the National Park Service to buy land for the North Country Trail. Year after year, one house has passed the bill while the other has allowed it to languish until Congress adjourned. In one year, both houses passed a "Willing Seller" bill, but the language did not match, so the bill could not become law.

Today, in a vote of 77 to 20, under rules where only a majority was required, the Omnibus Public Lands bill passed the House of Representatives. It was passed by the Senate on January 15, 2009.

Of course, the bill as a whole contains wide-sweeping measures that affect outdoor recreation, wilderness, and the environment, but none of these are so directly important to the NCT.

The New York Times, in an editorial, said "This would be the largest addition to the nation’s store of protected wilderness — now about 107 million acres — since 1994. The bill has broad bipartisan support in Congress and the country at large. Every single provision in the bill is the product of long and intense negotiations stretching back years on the state and local level — the product, that is, of consensus."

A few small amendments were added which do not affect any major provisions of the bill.

This is surely a day for the North Country Trail to Celebrate! Finally, in locations where there is a reasonable trail corridor and the landowner wishes to sell that land to be permanently protected for the trail, the landowner may do so. This will not immediately result in huge land purchases. No one is rash enough to think that people are lining up to sell their property to the National Park Service, nor does the NPS have piles of money which it can spend on land. However, from now on, where those two options meet, the trail will be able to be extended.

See A Bill Whose Time Has Come from the New York Times
See the roll call vote
See Senate Passes Omnibus Public Lands Bill

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