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Skijorring on Campbell Tract. Photo by Bob Wick (BLM).jpg

@Bob Wick (BLM)

NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL FEASIBILITY STUDY

With the help of Senator Lisa Murkowski (THANK YOU!), on December 29th 2022 the Congress directed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct the National Scenic Trail feasibility study for the Alaska Long Trail. 
 

The National Scenic Trail (NST) system comprises 11 long trails around the country, including the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. The NST designation opens doors to more federal funding in the future and will be critical to the development of an Alaskan long trail. The designation would also bring more nationwide recognition, leading to increased visitation and business to communities along the route. The NST designation does not set restrictions to specific trail use (motorized can be included), and decisions on the trail use are left with land managers such as municipalities, boroughs, and state and federal agencies.

The feasibility study is now underway, expected to be completed by the end of 2025. We hope that the study results in a positive recommendation to the Congress to designate the Alaska Long Trail as a National Scenic Trail.

Please consider attending one of these public sessions to share your feedback on the routes and let the BLM know you support the project:

  • Anchorage: April 8th 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM | Z.J. Loussac Library Learning Commons Room 

  • Seward: April 9th 5 PM – 7 PM | Gateway Hotel   

  • Wasilla: April 10th 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Wasilla Public Library 

  • Cantwell: April 11th 5 PM – 7 PM | Cantwell School Gym 

  • Fairbanks: April 12th 5 PM – 7 PM | Birch Hill, 101 Wilderness Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99712 

If you are unable to attend, please consider leaving a comment during the April 8-19 comment period. Also, the BLM will hold several virtual public meetings in the early summer, dates to be announced.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Does NST designation put restrictions on land use?

The NST designation itself does not put special restrictions on land use. Land use policies are set by land managers (for example, municipalities, state agencies, and federal agencies) that oversee specific trail segments.

2. Can motorized use be part of a National Scenic Trail?

Yes, and other NSTs in the country incorporate motorized use (for example, the Continental Divide Trail). In Alaska, the Iditarod National Historic Trail allows motorized use.

3. What is the extent of the federal oversight if the NST designation is approved?

The federal oversight of the entire trail involves coordination and management of the trail across multiple ownerships. A federal agency will be appointed by the Congress as an "administrator" of the trail. Typically, other NSTs in the country have a corresponding nonprofit that acts as a "manager" of the trail in addition to the federal administrator. An example in Alaska is the Iditarod National Historic Trail which is administered by the BLM and stewarded by the nonprofit Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance. As the INHT Trail Administrator, BLM facilitates efforts by volunteers and local, state and federal agencies on behalf of the entire trail.  

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