August 27, 2021

Congressman Neguse Introduces Bill to Complete the Continental Divide Trail

Neguse’s legislation seeks to fully protect the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in time for its 50th anniversary.

Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, unveiled the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act. The legislation, which is also supported by Congresswoman Teresa Leger-Fernández, would direct the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to work together to finish the 3,100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT). More than 40 years after its creation, the trail remains incomplete due to gaps in public lands along more than 160 miles of its route. In these areas, the CDT is forced to follow along roads to connect one completed section to another.

“The Continental Divide Trail traverses some of the most beautiful, rugged landscapes of our nation, and is an economic driver for rural towns and cities nestled along its route,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Completing the CDT would fulfill a promise that Congress made more than four decades ago, to provide the American people with world-class recreational opportunities spanning the length of the Continental Divide. By expediting completion of the trail and closing existing gaps, we ensure more people can enjoy these beautiful landscapes and we invest in Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy and the mountain towns and businesses that rely on visitors for their livelihoods.”

“In Colorado, we’re proud of our magnificent parks and natural resources, and trails and access are important for us to be able to enjoy them,” said Governor Jared Polis. “The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail has been under construction for more than 40 years and it’s long past time to finish this project so that the full trail can be enjoyed by all. I want to thank Rep. Neguse for his efforts to bring this project to fruition.”

“People have traveled trails through our mountains for centuries— connecting communities, trade and people.  Hiking the trails today connects us to the quiet beauty and strength of our forests, as well as the stories of the peoples who traveled here before,” said Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández. “Outdoor recreation also provides over $1 billion in wages and salaries for New Mexicans. From Chama, to Cuba, to Silver City, the expedited completion of the Continental Divide Trail made possible under this bill will provide even more opportunities for people to enjoy the beauty that is New Mexico as we grow our outdoor recreation economy."

“We are excited to see legislation that will bring us one step closer to achieving our mission of completing, promoting, and protecting the world-renowned Continental Divide Trail,” said Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. “By prioritizing and ensuring greater collaboration between the agencies, local leaders, and partners who all make up the CDT community, we can help ensure that the enjoyment of the CDT is available for all. We celebrate that attention is being brought to this important work, and we look forward to continuing to serve the CDT community alongside our partners and local stewards to make the CDT experience one that is safe, accessible, and enjoyable, now, and for future generations.” 

“As the proud Gateway Community of the Continental Divide Trail, the Town of Grand Lake is excited to endorse the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act to conserve and enhance access to the natural, scenic, historical, and cultural resources along the Continental Divide,” said Grand Lake Mayor Steve Kudron.“Completing the Continental Divide Trail will benefit the community of Grand Lake and the thousands of visitors that flock to the town for its natural environment and recreational resources.” Read the Town of Grand Lake’s full endorsement letter here. 

“In Summit County, our economy depends on continuing to steward the beautiful mountains and forests we’re known for,” said Tamara Pogue, Summit County Commissioner. “People visit our community from all over the world to enjoy the Continental Divide Trail as it touches the sky at Grays Peak - the highest point on any National Scenic Trail. The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act will support our economy and ensure that this trail remains a national treasure for generations to come." 

Congress created the CDT in 1978 as part of the National Trails System, a network which spans all 50 states. The CDT is the highest, most challenging, and most remote of 11 National Scenic Trails, running along the Continental Divide through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. 230 miles—7.5% of the entire trail—traverses Colorado’s 2nd District. The trail’s corridor helps protect the headwaters of the Colorado, Rio Grande, Columbia, and Mississippi Rivers, and when the trail is complete, it will connect an unbroken corridor of more than 2 million acres of public land for wildlife to safely traverse along their migration routes. 

The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act would direct the U.S. Forest Service, the federal agency that administers the Trail, to prioritize completion of the CDT before the trail’s 50th anniversary in 2028. To do so, the U.S. Forest Service will work alongside the Bureau of Land Management to acquire lands from willing sellers using the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program that Congressman Neguse has consistently supported. In May of 2020, Congressman Neguse led nearly 120 of his colleagues in the House in requesting full and permanent funding for LWCF, a victory which was secured that August with passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. 

See a map of the trail and gaps to be completed HERE and HERE. 

See the bill text HERE.  

See quotes of support HERE. 

The bill is endorsed by Governor Jared Polis, the Town of Grand Lake, CO, City of Grants, NM,  local officials from Salida, CO, Lake County, Summit County, Hinsdale County, Partnership for the National Trails System, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, The Trust for Public Land, The Wilderness Society, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Conservation Colorado, The Colorado Trail Foundation, Sierra Club, Society for Wilderness Stewardship, Back Country Horsemen of America, The Mountain Pact, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Society for Wilderness Stewardship, Cloud City Wheelers, Southwest New Mexico ACT,, WNMU Outdoor Program, Anaconda Trails Society, Silver City MainStreet (Silver City, NM), Murray Ryan Visitor Center (Silver City, NM), Cuba Rural Pathway Project (Cuba, NM), Nacimiento Community Foundation (Cuba, NM), Cibola Communities Economic Development Foundation (Grants, NM), Anaconda Chamber of Commerce (Anaconda, MT), Carbon County Visitors’ Council (Rawlins, WY), Visit Helena Montana (Helena, MT), Deuter USA (Longmont, CO), Montbell America (Boulder, CO), Never Summer Mountain Products (Grand Lake, CO), Big Agnes (Steamboat Springs, CO), Honey Stinger (Steamboat Springs, CO), Mountainsmith (Golden, CO), Point6 (Steamboat Springs, CO), Triple Crown Hostel (Silver City, NM), Wines By V (Anaconda, MT), Pintler’s Portal Hostel (Anaconda, MT), Gila Hike and Bike (Silver City, NM), Seek Dry Goods (Conifer, CO), Salida Mountain Sports (Salida, CO), Simple Lodge & Hostel (Salida, CO), Hinsdale Haute Route (Lake City, CO), and Katabatic Gear (Salida, CO).