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Secretary Bernhardt designates new national recreational trails in Kansas

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt designated four new national recreation trails in Kansas Thursday – Flint Hills State Park Trail, Migrants Mile Trail, Outlet Campground Trail System and Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail. The designations are part of a broader national announcement that establishes 30 new national recreation trails in 25 states, adding more than 1,275 miles to the National Trails System. 

Thursday’s announcement is in addition to the 370 miles of national recreation trails that were designated in 2018, bringing the Trump Administration’s total to 49 national recreation trails added, spanning 1,645 miles.

“I encourage Americans to get outside, enjoy our incredible public lands and visit a nearby national recreation trail,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Spanning more than 83,000 miles, larger than the interstate highway system, the National Trails System provides easy access to a wide variety of outdoor experiences. The Trump Administration is committed to expanding public access to the outdoors, so more Americans have the opportunity and ability to experience it in all of its splendor.”

“American Trails promotes and maintains the database of our country’s National Recreation Trails (NRT) and applauds this new slate of Secretarial designations from the Department of the Interior,” said NRT Executive Director Mike Passo. “The NRT program brings vibrancy to the National Trail System by uniquely highlighting trails that are accessible, relatable, and serve a wide diversity of our nation’s public. With these designations, the NRT database at exceeds 1,300 trails.”

“American Hiking Society welcomes the designation of 30 new National Recreation Trails that will create enhanced recreational opportunities for hikers and all types of trail users,” said American Hiking Society Executive Director Kate Van Waes. “Each trail selected to receive this honor must support a diversity of users, reflect its region, and be among America’s best trails, all qualities that benefit the hiking community.”

“Americans are enjoying close-to-home recreation and thanks to our amazing National Trails System, they have even more places to explore. With a 75% increase in bike ridership on trails this year, we commend the Department of the Interior for this expansion and granting our nation more access to the outdoors,” said PeopleForBikes President and CEO Jenn Dice. “Thanks to these initiatives, we’re getting closer to meeting the needs of a fast-growing community of people outdoors and on bikes finding joy, freedom and health on our trails nationwide.”

The new designations advance the Trump Administration’s priority to increase public access to outdoor recreational opportunities in alignment with Secretary’s Order 3366. Interior-managed outdoor recreation activities support more than 452,000 jobs and account for more than $58 billion in economic output across the country.

As the seventh longest rail trail in the nation, the 95-mile Flint Hills State Park Trail runs from Osawatomie in eastern Kansas to Herington in the west. The trail passes through river bluffs, riparian zones, agricultural fields and the last remaining remnant of the tall grass prairie. The trail roughly follows the route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail and forms a component of the American Discovery Trail.

Migrants Mile is a self-guided nature and fitness trail that offers wildlife viewing throughout the year. It traverses a variety of habitats, including freshwater marsh, woodland, and sand prairie. Waterfowl, herons, egrets and shorebirds frequent area wetlands. Eleven markers along the trail highlight both fitness information and natural features to explore. 

The Outlet Campground Trail System is composed of three individual trails intertwined to provide a little over three miles of outdoor recreational experiences for campers, as well as, the community of Osage County. The trail system provides a half-mile of paved surface accessible to the people with disabilities in addition to another 2.5-miles of compacted soil and gravel trail.

As Kansas’ first State-managed rail trail, the Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail gives users a 51-mile tour through tallgrass prairie, woodlands, agricultural fields and eight small rural communities combined with country hospitality. The trail connects with a system of trails including the Flint Hills State Park Trail and the Southwind Trail, creating a network of recreation opportunities.

The National Trails System, which includes national scenic, national historic, and national recreation trails, offers an abundance of scenic, historic, and recreation trails for outdoor enjoyment on America’s public lands. The system promotes preservation, public access, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas, and historic resources of the United States.

The National Recreation Trails Program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with a number of federal and nonprofit partners. The designation of a national recreation trail can be done by either the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture on an existing local or regional trail with the consent of the federal, state, local, nonprofit or private entity that has jurisdiction over the trail.

The trail’s managing agency or organization must apply for the distinction. Each of the newly designated trails will receive a certificate of designation, a set of trail markers and a letter of recognition from Secretary Bernhardt.