WASHIGNTON – Last week, U.S. Senator Steve Daines introduced legislation directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior to prioritize completion of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) by the trail’s 50th anniversary in 2028.
The Senator introduced The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).
“The Continental Divide Trail provides an unmatched outdoor experience for Montanans and visitors alike,” Daines said. “My bipartisan bill ensures the trail will continue to provide public access and a continuous route will finally be completed!”
“The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail not only passes through some of our most incredible natural, historic, and cultural sites, but is also a major source of economic opportunity for communities along the trail,” Heinrich said. “With this legislation, we can make the CDT safer and more accessible so that more people can experience and explore our nation’s great outdoors.”
Designated by Congress as part of the National Trail System in 1978, the CDT stretches more than 3,000 miles and passes through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Idaho. The trail follows the Continental Divide and transverses some of the nation’s most treasured natural, historic, and cultural resources.
Since the CDT’s creation, stakeholders have worked tirelessly to complete the trail. Today, more than 160 miles of the trail require diversions onto roadways and highways, and 600 miles of the trail require relocation. Closing these gaps and relocating these segments will help better maintain the trail’s purpose while ensuring a safer and more enjoyable journey for visitors.
The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act would:
Direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to establish a Trail Completion Team. This team will be responsible for conducting optimal location reviews, identifying land for acquisition, and working with willing sellers to acquire land. It will include U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff working with the CDT Administrator.
Recognize the value of cooperation between federal land managers, states, Tribes, towns, Native communities, and others. The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act directs USFS and BLM to maintain close partnerships with stakeholders in developing, maintaining, and managing the trail.
State that eminent domain will not be used to complete the trail. Land to complete the trail may only be acquired from willing sellers.
Daines’ bill is supported by several groups and businesses including:
Backyard Montana, Wines by V, Pintler’s Portal, Ten Mile Creek Brewery, Oboz Footwear, Mountain Ranch House (MRH) Eatery, Blackfoot Brewing Company, Backslope Brewing, Glacier Distilling Company, The Base Camp, Last Best Supply Co, REI, Yeti, Osprey, Hydro-Flask, JP Gallagher, Chief Executive of Butte and Silver Bow County and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.