Hike the Hill (HTH) is American Hiking Society’s annual policy event designed to allow foot trail advocates from around the country to gather in Washington DC and make their collective voice heard on Capitol Hill.
Attendees truly do “Hike the Hill” as they visit with their legislators and/or their staffs as well as land management agency officials throughout the week. HTH also provides a great opportunity for trail advocates to network and share their own successes and challenges with each other.
American Hiking Society worked in cooperation with the Partnership for the National Trails System to develop an exciting agenda for HTH 2013. AHS enhanced the week’s activities this year with an eye on ensuring that attendees had the timely policy information they needed to make compelling cases in their meetings as well as considering additional opportunities to educate congressional offices around trail issues.
Hike the Hill 2013: A Blend of Old and New
The core of Hike the Hill has always been the meetings…and 2013 was no different! During Hike the Hill, advocates from across the country met with land management agency officials from Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as officials from both the Office of the Management of the Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality to share successes, needs, concerns and praise. Well over 100 meetings were also held with Congressional offices where advocates had the opportunity to highlight local successes and unique challenges with their local Representatives and Senators. Many advocates reported a positive reception from the offices yet the prospect of tough fiscal times continues to be omnipresent.
A series of 3 Policy Briefing Webinars was a new addition to Hike the Hill 2013 and were offered in direct response to feedback from previous attendees indicating the desire for such information before they arrived in Washington. The webinars were also open to any interested hiking advocates, even if they were not able to come to Washington. Topics included:
- Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA)
- MAP21 and Transportation Reauthorization
- An Overview of the 113th Congress-Fiscal Outlook-New Leadership-Freshman Class: Who Are They?
The Hike on the National Mall
The 4th Annual Hike on the Mall kicked off Hike the Hill 2013 on Sunday afternoon…advocates and local hiking enthusiasts gathered (under the sun!) at the base of the Lincoln Memorial and following welcome remarks from AHS President, Dr. Gregory Miller, proceeded to hike the length of the Mall.
Congressional Trails Reception
The Annual Congressional Trails Reception was once again a success…even if we did have to make a change in the date due to the scheduling of the State of the Union Address! Staffers, members, agency staff and advocates mingled together discussing all things trails. Dr. Miller presented the 2013 AHS Congressional Trailblazer award to Representative Gerry Connolly (VA), honoring his many years of trails support-both on a local level as well as a national level. Mr. Connolly (accompanied by his family) took the time to accept his award in person and address the group. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR), a long time Congressional trails champion (and recipient of the inaugural AHS Congressional Trailblazer award in 2012) also took the time to attend and speak to the attendees. Thanks to Vasque for donation of a hiking boot.
Congressman Gerry Connolly(D-VA) proudly accepts the (unique!) AHS Congressional Trailblazer Award. The Congressman is a long time champion of trails at local, state and federal levels.
Congressman Blumenauer (OR), a perennial Congressional trails champion,took the time to attend the annual Congressional Trails Reception. He addressed the attendees with his usual combination of passion and humor.
American Hiking Society sponsored a House Congressional Briefing, titled, The Economic Benefits of Trails, during Hike the Hill 2013. This was a first for both Hike the Hill and AHS!
The briefing was very well attended and staffers demonstrated solid interest in the topic, asking thoughtful questions, etc. Many thanks to both the Outdoor Industry Association and the Rails To Trails Conservancy for their support of the briefing.
Hike The Hill 2013 was sponsored in part by Osprey