Jimmy Carter photo

Appalachian Trail Bill Statement on Signing H.R. 8803 Into Law.

March 22, 1978

The bill I have signed into law, H.R. 8803, gives the American people and their elected leaders the means to protect the future of the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail was conceived more than 50 years ago by Benton MacKaye, an eminent conservationist. By the time of World War II, a massive volunteer effort by concerned citizens had made the trail a reality. It now extends over 2,000 miles through 14 States from Maine to Georgia, and volunteer effort is still the primary means by which it is maintained.

Although much has been done to protect the Appalachian Trail over the years, the Congress and my administration recognized that more needed to be done. The result was this bill, to which Representatives Byron, Burton, and Sebelius, Senators Abourezk, Durkin, and Mathias, Secretary Andrus and Assistant Secretary Herbst made especially significant contributions.

The trail runs through national parks and forests, but it also runs through more than 650 miles of private land. H.R. 8803 provides increased authority and funding for the Secretary of the Interior to acquire lands to protect parts of the trail threatened by development and to relocate portions of the trail along its original route. Just as importantly, the bill requires the Secretary of the Interior-after consultation with the Advisory Council for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Governors of the affected States, and the Appalachian Trail Conference (a coalition of citizens groups)—to develop and submit to the Congress by 1980 a comprehensive plan for land acquisition and for the management, development, and use of the Appalachian Trail.

The enactment of this bill into law means that the Federal Government can now work more effectively with the States and citizens to provide the protection necessary to preserve—and ultimately enhance—this important part of our American heritage.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 8803 is Public Law 95-248, approved March 21.

Jimmy Carter, Appalachian Trail Bill Statement on Signing H.R. 8803 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244528

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