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Valley News: Hassan Hikes - and Pushes Funding for - the Appalachian Trail

ETNA – In case you missed it, Valley News joined Senator Maggie Hassan on a hike of the Appalachian Trail on Friday, where she discussed a bipartisan effort that she is leading to increase funding to the Appalachian Mountain Scenic Trail to help maintain the trail and keep its visitors safe.


To read the Valley News article, click here or see below.


Valley News: Hassan hikes - and pushes funding for - the AT

By Claire Potter


ETNA — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., met with Upper Valley trail advocates and officials on a rainy Friday morning to walk a stretch of the Appalachian Trail and promote a bipartisan effort to increase funding for the popular stretch of national parklands.


“It’s important to about 3 million hikers a year through the length of the Appalachian Trail. It’s also a major economic driver, as well as a real resource for people who enjoy the great outdoors and enjoy recreation and it really gives them a chance to connect with the environment,” Hassan said before the 40-minute hike.


Hassan signed a letter encouraging the Senate Committee on Appropriations to include an additional $1.9 million in federal money for the Appalachian Mountain Scenic Trail. Federal funding for the trail has remained stagnant over the last 10 years except for some limited COVID-19 relief. Several lawmakers who represent states along the AT, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., also signed the letter, as did U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.


“Southern, Northern, Democrat, Republican, everyone is really committed to this,” Hassan said.


Meanwhile, the number of visitors has increased by 100% in the past decade, according to Hassan’s office. The senator said the extra funds would go toward safety and law enforcement, accommodations for new visitors, and maintenance and resiliency efforts.


“The funds will increase the base funding for the Appalachian Mountain Scenic Trail. Some of it helps with resource management, but not much of it because there isn’t much of it,” said Matthew Stevens, resource manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. With more federal dollars, he said, managers of the trail can do more to restore habitats in the Upper Valley.


Representatives from various groups that work together to manage the trail — the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Forest Service and Dartmouth Outing Club — joined Hassan and her black Lab, Chip, on the 2-mile hike on the AT off Etna Road.


The group wound through a stretch of the trail that the Outing Club maintains, and then regional managers from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy gave the senator a tour of Bent Field, where they have been transforming an old hay field into a mosaic of rare habitats.


Stevens told Hassan that the conservancy “wants to keep it open and manage an uncommon landscape along the trail.”  […]