Rep. Joe Neguse pushes for completion of Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail stretches more than 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico, but 44 years after Congress authorized its creation, it still has 160 miles of gaps. Rep. Joe Neguse has been trying to fill them through congressional action, and he visited one of them this week, a potentially dangerous stretch at Muddy Pass in northern Colorado near Rabbit Ears Pass.

On that 15-mile section, CDT hikers must walk along U.S. 40 and Colorado Highway 14. Neguse went there Wednesday to dramatize the need for completing the trail.

“To see that portion of the road — some of the busiest highways in northwest Colorado that 10, 20, 50, 70 hikers are traversing as they attempt to walk the full extent of the Continental Divide Trail — from a safety perspective this is really important,” Neguse said in an interview following his visit.

The Muddy Pass gap is the only one on the CDT in Colorado. There are four in Montana, one in Wyoming and six in New Mexico.

Teresa Martinez, executive director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, said she has ridden the Muddy Pass gap on a mountain bike and it “terrified” her. The roadside section connects sections of the trail that are on public lands.

“The road is a two-lane highway on Highway 14, and then you come onto a three-lane highway, Highway 40,” Martinez said. “In both cases, people tend to (drive) very fast. The traffic isn’t just passenger vehicles. A lot of times it’s larger trucks and equipment vehicles, also going very fast. There are curves and there is no infrastructure, shoulder, whatever, for people to be on. It’s just a recipe for disaster.”

Neguse introduced legislation to fill in the gaps in 2021, and he reintroduced it this year. His bill, called the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act, would direct the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to do what is necessary to complete the trail, and it passed the House in the last session of Congress. It has bipartisan support in the Senate from Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat from New Mexico, and Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican.

“We’re very excited about the momentum this legislation has, the fact that it’s bipartisan, and the fact that it did receive a hearing in the Senate two months ago,” Neguse said. “It builds on the progress we made in the last Congress.”

Congress created the Continental Divide Trail project in 1978. Neguse argues it is high time to finish it.

“It would fulfill a promise that Congress made more than four decades ago to provide the American people with world-class recreational opportunities spanning the length of the Continental Divide,” Neguse said. “Unfortunately we have not lived up to that promise, so the prospect of this legislation enabling the agencies to prioritize its completion across multiple states, I think, will be a great win for outdoor enthusiasts, for folks who would like to enjoy the trail, and for economic development in a number of nearby gateway communities. We’re excited. We think this is a project worth investing in, and we’re hopeful our colleagues will agree.”

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Adventurist, to get outdoors news sent straight to your inbox.

Source: Read Full Article