KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Continuing his work to expand recreational opportunities on public lands, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke designated Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium’s Trail System as a new national recreation trail.
Rising above Kingsport, Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium has approximately 40 miles of trails suitable for all levels of hiking and mountain biking expertise. From scenic, fun, single-track trails to old service roads leading to the ridgetop fire tower, 31 named trails provide a great escape to the natural world.
Eighteen other national recreation trails in 16 states were designated as well; adding more than 370 miles to the national recreation trails system of more than 1,000 trails in all 50 states. Each of the newly designated trails will receive a certificate of designation, a set of trail markers, and a letter of congratulations recognition from Secretary Zinke.
“By designating these new national trails, we acknowledge the efforts of local communities to provide outdoor recreational opportunities that can be enjoyed by everyone,” said Secretary Zinke. “Our network of national trails provides easily accessible places to exercise and connect with nature in both urban and rural areas while boosting tourism and supporting economic opportunities across the country.”
On Saturday, June 2, hundreds of organized activities are planned as part of National Trails Day, including hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications. Trails of the National Recreation Trails system range from less than a mile to 485 miles in length and have been designated on federal, state, municipal and privately owned lands.
“The network of national recreation trails offers expansive opportunities for Americans to explore the great outdoors,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System, I hope everyone will take advantage of a nearby national trail to hike or bike.”
While national scenic trails and national historic trails may only be designated by an act of Congress, national recreation trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture in response to an application from the trail's managing agency or organization.
The National Recreation Trails Program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with a number of Federal and not-for-profit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trails website.
“An avid outdoorsman, I often take advantage of the parks and trails in East Tennessee,” said Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN 1st District). “In addition to being a great place for East Tennesseans to spend time outdoors, our beautiful lands also help the local economy. I know these new trails will benefit Kingsport, and I thank Secretary Zinke for expanding recreational opportunities in the First District.”
“Millions of Americans utilize our National Trails System to enjoy the great outdoors and understand our nation's heritage,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President & CEO, The Corps Network. “Whether it's hiking, biking, camping, hunting, or fishing - trails also provide access to our nations most treasured landscapes and recreation opportunities. The nations 130 Conservation Corps and 24,000 Corpsmembers are proud to help construct and maintain our National Trails System and we applaud Secretary Zinke's commitment to expanding trails and access to recreation opportunities in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act.”
“Congratulations on the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Act,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “Trails are exceedingly important to tourism and recreation in America’s State Parks, and we continue to grow the trail systems in response to the many types of users. Outdoor recreation opportunities include not only hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, but also a place for snowmobilers and OHRVs. Waterway trails are also an integral part of the outdoor recreation experience. Whether it is biking the most difficult terrain or taking a leisurely hike along a natural path, the trails provide healthy activities everyone can participate in and enjoy. The National Trails Act led the way for the majority of the states to enact support for trails such as Tennessee, among one of the first in April of 1971 to enact their State Scenic Trails Act. National and state designations highlight the unique significance trails offer in this most popular of outdoor recreation activities.”
For more information, visit www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-zinke-announces-19-new-national-recreation-trails-17-states.
Photo credit: CaseSensitive Photos - Jay Huron
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