4-Trails Legislation (by Bill Martin)
The long-awaited feasibility and suitability study for additional routes of the Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, California and Pony Express National Historic Trails (AKA the 4-Trails study) has been completed. Over a period of ten years, the National Park Service studied 77 routes. The study, transmitted to Congress in January 2020, recommends the addition of at least 26 routes (totaling 7,589 miles) to existing National Historic Trails.
The next step is for Congress to pass a National Historic Trail Designation Act officially adding the trails to the National Trails System. Currently OCTA is seeking Congressmen and Senators willing to introduce legislation to accomplish that. There is some urgency if we want to have the legislation introduced and passed during the current Congress, which ends in January 2021. It is not unusual for Designation bills to languish, so a trails champion needs to be found.
These are NOT new trails but are routes and segments that would be added to existing National Historic Trails. It would provide permanent protection and preservation for important trails in California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Legislation would add 13 routes and segments to the California National Historic Trail, 13 routes to the Oregon National Historic Trail, and two routes to the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. (Three routes on the Pony Express were studied but determined not to be eligible.) The total length of the Oregon National Historic Trail would increase by 150 percent, while the California NHT would increase more than 50 percent. This is truly landmark legislation for the trails.