What is the PNT comprehensive plan?
In 2009, the US Congress designated the Pacific Northwest Trail as a national scenic trail, making it one of the newest trails to be added to America’s 55,000-mile National Trails System.
As a national scenic trail, the PNT is subject to the legislative requirements of The National Trails System Act, which requires the administering agency to develop a trail-wide comprehensive plan.
Once approved, the comprehensive plan will provide a shared vision for the PNT and high-level, programmatic guidance for its management that will shape its future for generations to come.
Why Public Comment is Important
By sharing your ideas and opinions about how the Pacific Northwest Trail should be managed, you can help shape the comprehensive plan.
Public comments can help safeguard the values and character of the PNT by helping to define how they are expressed in the planning documents. These ideas are critical to the protection and management of the trail and will ensure that the plan will fulfill the founding vision for the trail.
How to Comment
In order for your comments to receive full agency consideration, and to establish your eligibility to participate in later stages of the public review process, public comments, or expressions of interest, need to be submitted to the US Forest Service by November 14, 2022.
In order to be most effective, please review the scoping documents provided here (specifically the document labeled “20220926 PNT Final Scoping Document.pdf). Comments should directly address the subjects contained in this document.
There will be additional opportunities to comment later in the planning process. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that the environmental impacts of administering and managing the trail on federal lands be assessed. The US Forest Service will analyze the proposed action in an environmental assessment (EA). Further opportunities for public comment will be provided after a draft of this assessment has been completed.
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How is PNTA involved?
For decades, PNTA has coordinated closely with the Forest Service on all aspects of trail management. From the very beginning of the PNT comprehensive planning process, PNTA has had a seat at the table advocating for management practices that rise to the times and best protect the values that the trail was established to provide.
The founding vision for the Pacific Northwest Trail (provided below) was first published in 1974, and has remained consistent as a compass that guides our work to this today. The PNT has always been envisioned as not only a world-class recreation opportunity, but also as an important tool for conservation across the region.
Through our position on the PNT Advisory Council and our comments during public scoping opportunities such as this one, we continue to advocate for a user experience that is “as much as possible a wilderness experience” while also providing important protections for the landscape and resources that make the PNT experience so special.
While we advocate for the trail on behalf of all of our supporters, we hope that you will amplify our message by adding comments of your own.
Founding vision for the Pacific Northwest Trail
“From well above treeline to luxuriant forests, from one inland wilderness area to another, to the most mysterious of all wildernesses —the sea— will someday stretch a dream trail, a passionate walker’s trail.
It will be as much as possible a wilderness trail with relatively difficult access, relatively few signs and shelters, and relatively great attention given in planning to its walker’s potential wilderness experience.
It will be a trail of superb backpacking —not pale, bland, crowded trail slumming— but adventurous frontier walking. Today there is great obligation upon those who would create a new national scenic trail to avoid the mistakes of the past. Overcrowding, poor design and location, deterioration of wilderness values, and rampant vandalism can all be minimized if enough thought, dedication and money are devoted to the Pacific Northwest Trail.
I strongly believe that creating a new trail to serve the geometrically growing numbers of backpackers need not be a disservice to the country through which that trail passes.
In fact, in addition to its other values, the creation of this trail would help to protect many fine roadless areas that are now in danger of development. The National Trails Act of 1968 provides some direct protection for every footpath designated as a national scenic trail. Even more helpful would be the incentive the Pacific Northwest Trail would provide for federal administrators to emphasize wilderness values in their management of land on either side of the trail as well.” (Joel Pritchard (WA). “Proceedings and Debates of the 94th Congress, First Session” Congressional Record Vol. 121, No. 40)