U.S. Rep. McSally to Become First Member of Congress to Hike 800-Mile Arizona Trail
SIERRA VISTA–U.S. Representative McSally (AZ-02) will become the first member of Congress to hike the 800-mile Arizona Trail, which spans from the U.S. - Mexico Border in Cochise County to Utah. Planning to hike it in segments in the months ahead, today she led members of Cochise County on a 3.6-mile kick off hike at the start of the Arizona Trail near the southwest border in Coronado National Memorial. In embarking on this journey, the Congresswoman will highlight the significance of the Arizona Trial, the importance of public lands for Arizona’s local and state economies, and the need to ensure that these lands have the resources that they need to stay open and accessible to the public.
"Known as the backbone of Arizona, the Arizona Trail stretches across our beautiful state and showcases our state’s breathtaking and internationally renowned landscapes," said Rep. McSally. "Congress designated the Arizona Trail as a National Scenic Trail in 2009 and I want to be the first member of Congress to hike the entire amazing 800-mile trail. I’m hiking to show our district, our state, and our nation that these treasures matter, that outdoor recreation is important—and most of all—to demonstrate the pride we have in our home of Arizona. Elected officials have a responsibility to help protect our lands for future generations. I’m willing to demonstrate that I take this responsibility seriously."
Click HERE or below to watch video of Rep. McSally near the U.S. Mexico Border hike the Arizona Trail
The Arizona Trail stretches 800 miles across the entire length of the state to connect deserts, mountains, forests, canyons, wilderness, history, communities, and people. The Arizona Trail was the dream of Flagstaff schoolteacher Dale Shewalter who envisioned a cross-state trail in the 1970s. Mr. Shewalter hiked the trails to examine the feasibility of connecting them all. At his encouragement, the Arizona State Parks and the Kaibab, Coronado, Coconino, and Tonto National Forests, the Bureau of Land Management, and National Parks Service joined together to create one trail. In 2009 it was designated as a National Scenic Trail and in 2011 Dale Shewalter’s vision was realized and the Arizona Trail was finally complete. Today, this non-motorized trail showcases Arizona's diverse vegetation, wildlife, and scenery, as well as unique historic and cultural sites. Hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians travel from all over to Arizona for the experience.
The kick-off hike took place entirely within Coronado National Memorial, one of three National Park Sites within the Southeast Arizona Group. These public lands are major assets to Southern Arizona’s local community, boosting tourism and growing the local and national economy. A National Park Service Report shows that 195,366 visitors to the Southeast Arizona Group in 2016 spent $11,453,700 in communities near the park. That spending supported 168 jobs in the local area and generated $13,304,200 for the local economy.
McSally Track Record of Support for Public Lands
A long-time outdoor recreational enthusiast, hiking the Arizona Trails is Rep. McSally’s newest initiative to support Arizona’s scenic and world-renown landscape. Throughout her time in Congress, Rep. McSally has consistently and effectively advocated for public lands in Arizona.
In the last two Appropriations measures passed by Congress, Congresswoman McSally successfully fought to include increased funding for the National Parks Service (NPS). In the FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill, Rep McSally successfully advocated to increase NPS by $81 million and in the FY 2018 Omnibus that passed the House on September 14, Rep. McSally successfully offered an amendment to increase the NPS by $9.692 million to help address longstanding deferred park maintenance needs.
She has introduced two measures to help address Arizona’s growing $580.2 million maintenance backlog. In June she partnered with Senators McCain and Flake to introduce bipartisan legislation to facilitate partnerships between NPS and national service corps organizations in order to complete projects faster and more efficiently. In March she introduced legislation to direct NPS to re-evaluate its current strategy of prioritizing maintenance projects and to submit its findings to Congress.
Last Congress, she introduced legislation to designate Chiricahua National Monument as a national park and is continuing to move that effort forward in the 115th Congress.