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Legislation to Improve North Country Scenic Trail Route, Boost Tourism
Minnesota Ag Connection - 02/16/2017

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) have introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the North Country Scenic Trail route and boost state tourism. The trail -- which currently extends from New York to North Dakota -- was never built along certain sections in Minnesota because the current route included wetlands that are difficult to build through, which raised conservation concerns. The North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act would reroute the trail to avoid wetlands by incorporating 400 miles of existing hiking trails in the Minnesota Arrowhead region of the Boundary Waters and North Shore of Lake Superior. The bipartisan legislation would also extend the trail to Vermont to connect it with the Appalachian Trail.

"Minnesota's Arrowhead region has some of the most beautiful trails in the country," Klobuchar said. "By finally including the Arrowhead region on the trail, this legislation would boost tourism, benefit local businesses, and allow people to share in our state's natural beauty all while conserving our wetlands."

"The North Country Scenic Trail provides hikers with access to some of the most beautiful landscapes in North Dakota and the northern United States," said Hoeven. "This legislation improves the route and connects it to additional trails, which will help increase tourism and grow the local economies of the communities along the trail."

The North Country National Scenic Trail is the nation's longest hiking trail, currently running 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota and passing through 12 national forests. The trail was created by Congress in 1980 and has been largely built by volunteers.

In addition to Klobuchar and Hoeven, the original cosponsors of this bill are Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Al Franken (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Gary Peters (D-MI). Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) has introduced a companion version of the bill in the House. Klobuchar also introduced this bill last Congress. A provision based on the North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act was included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which passed the Senate in April of 2016.

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