[114th Congress Public Law 245]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

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Public Law 114-245
114th Congress

                                 An Act

    To direct the Secretary of Agriculture to publish in the Federal 
Register a strategy to significantly increase the role of volunteers and 
  partners in National Forest System trail maintenance, and for other 
            purposes. <<NOTE: Nov. 28, 2016 -  [H.R. 845]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: National Forest 
System Trails Stewardship Act.>> 

    (a) <<NOTE: 16 USC 583k note.>>  Short Title.--This Act may be cited 
as the ``National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act''.

    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Findings.
Sec. 3. Definitions.
Sec. 4. National forest system trails volunteer and partnership 
Sec. 5. Priority trail maintenance program.
Sec. 6. Cooperative agreements.
Sec. 7. Stewardship credits for outfitters and guides.

SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 16 USC 583k.>>  FINDINGS.

    Congress finds as follows:
            (1) The National Forest System features a world-class trail 
        system with over 157,000 miles of trails that provide world-
        class opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, hunting, 
        mountain bicycling, motorized vehicles, and other outdoor 
            (2) According to the Government Accountability Office, the 
        Forest Service is only able to maintain about one-quarter of 
        National Forest System trails to the agency standard, and the 
        agency faces a trail maintenance backlog of $314 million, and an 
        additional backlog of $210 million in annual maintenance, 
        capital improvements, and operations.
            (3) The lack of maintenance on National Forest System trails 
        threatens access to public lands, and may cause increased 
        environmental damage, threaten public safety, and increase 
        future maintenance costs.
            (4) Federal budget limitations require solutions to National 
        Forest System trail maintenance issues that make more efficient 
        use of existing resources.
            (5) Volunteers, partners, and outfitters and guides play an 
        important role in maintaining National Forest System trails, and 
        a comprehensive strategy is needed to ensure that volunteers and 
        partners are used as effectively as possible.
SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 16 USC 583k-1.>>  DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

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            (1) Administrative unit.--The term ``Administrative Unit'' 
        means a national forest or national grassland.
            (2) Outfitter or guide.--The term ``outfitter or guide'' 
        means an individual, organization, or business who provides 
        outfitting or guiding services, as defined in section 251.51 of 
        title 36, Code of Federal Regulations.
            (3) Partner.--The term ``partner'' means a non-Federal 
        entity that engages in a partnership.
            (4) Partnership.--The term ``partnership'' means 
        arrangements between the Department of Agriculture or the Forest 
        Service and a non-Federal entity that are voluntary, mutually 
        beneficial, and entered into for the purpose of mutually agreed-
        upon objectives.
            (5) Priority area.--The term ``priority area'' means a well-
        defined region on National Forest System land selected by the 
        Secretary under section 5(a).
            (6) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
        of Agriculture.
            (7) Strategy.--The term ``strategy'' means the National 
        Forest System Trails Volunteer and Partnership Strategy 
        authorized by section 4(a).
            (8) Trail maintenance.--The term ``trail maintenance'' means 
        any activity to maintain the usability and sustainability of 
        trails within the National Forest System, including--
                    (A) ensuring trails are passable by the users for 
                which they are managed;
                    (B) preventing environmental damage resulting from 
                trail deterioration;
                    (C) protecting public safety; and
                    (D) averting future deferred maintenance costs.
            (9) Volunteer.--The term ``volunteer'' means an individual 
        whose services are accepted by the Secretary without 
        compensation under the Volunteers in the National Forests Act of 
        1972 (16 U.S.C. 558a et seq.).

    (a) <<NOTE: Deadline.>>  In General.--Not later than 2 years after 
the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall publish in 
the Federal Register a strategy to significantly increase the role of 
volunteers and partners in trail maintenance.

    (b) Required Elements.--The strategy required by subsection (a) 
            (1) augment and support the capabilities of Federal 
        employees to carry out or contribute to trail maintenance;
            (2) provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers and 
        partners to carry out trail maintenance in each region of the 
        Forest Service;
            (3) address the barriers to increased volunteerism and 
        partnerships in trail maintenance identified by volunteers, 
        partners, and others;
            (4) prioritize increased volunteerism and partnerships in 
        trail maintenance in those regions with the most severe trail 
        maintenance needs, and where trail maintenance backlogs are 
        jeopardizing access to National Forest lands; and

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            (5) <<NOTE: Deadline.>>  aim to increase trail maintenance 
        by volunteers and partners by 100 percent by the date that is 5 
        years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (c) <<NOTE: Study.>>  Additional Requirement.--As a component of the 
strategy, the Secretary shall study opportunities to improve trail 
maintenance by addressing opportunities to use fire crews in trail 
maintenance activities in a manner that does not jeopardize firefighting 
capabilities, public safety, or resource 
protection. <<NOTE: Determination. Incorporation.>>  Upon a 
determination that trail maintenance would be advanced by use of fire 
crews in trail maintenance, the Secretary shall incorporate these 
proposals into the strategy, subject to such terms and conditions as the 
Secretary determines to be necessary.

    (d) Volunteer Liability.--
            (1) In general.--Section 3 of the Volunteers in the National 
        Forests Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 558c) is amended by adding at the 
        end the following new subsection:

     <<NOTE: Definition.>> ``(e) For the purposes of subsections (b), 
(c), and (d), the term `volunteer' includes a person providing volunteer 
services to the Secretary who--
            ``(1) is recruited, trained, and supported by a cooperator 
        under a mutual benefit agreement with the Secretary; and
            ``(2) performs such volunteer services under the supervision 
        of the cooperator as directed by the Secretary in the mutual 
        benefit agreement, including direction that specifies--
                    ``(A) the volunteer services to be performed by the 
                volunteers and the supervision to be provided by the 
                    ``(B) the applicable project safety standards and 
                protocols to be adhered to by the volunteers and 
                enforced by the cooperator; and
                    ``(C) the on-site visits to be made by the 
                Secretary, when feasible, to verify that volunteers are 
                performing the volunteer services and the cooperator is 
                providing the supervision agreed upon.''.
            (2) <<NOTE: Deadline. Regulations.>>  Additional 
        requirement.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the 
        enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall adopt regulations 
        implementing this section. These regulations shall ensure that 
        the financial risk from claims or liability associated with 
        volunteers undertaking trail maintenance is shared by all 
        administrative units.

    (e) Consultation.--The Secretary shall develop the strategy in 
consultation with volunteer and partner trail maintenance organizations, 
a broad array of outdoor recreation stakeholders, and other relevant 
    (f) <<NOTE: Implementation plan.>>  Volunteer and Partnership 
Coordination.--The Secretary shall require each administrative unit to 
develop a volunteer and partner coordination implementation plan for the 
strategy which clearly defines roles and responsibilities for the 
administrative unit and district staff, and includes strategies to 
ensure sufficient coordination, assistance, and support for volunteers 
and partners to improve trail maintenance.

    (g) Report.--
            (1) Contents.--The Secretary shall prepare a report on--
                    (A) the effectiveness of the strategy in addressing 
                the trail maintenance backlog;
                    (B) the increase in volunteerism and partnership 
                efforts on trail maintenance as a result of the 

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                    (C) the miles of National Forest System trails 
                maintained by volunteers and partners, and the 
                approximate value of the volunteer and partnership 
                    (D) the status of the stewardship credits for 
                outfitters and guides pilot program described in section 
                7 that includes the number of participating sites, total 
                amount of the credits offered, estimated value of trail 
                maintenance performed, and suggestions for revising the 
                program; and
                    (E) <<NOTE: Recommenda- tions.>>  recommendations 
                for further increasing volunteerism and partnerships in 
                trail maintenance.
            (2) Submission.--Not later than 3 years after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit the report 
        required by paragraph (1) to--
                    (A) the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and 
                Forestry and the Committee on Energy and Natural 
                Resources of the Senate; and
                    (B) the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee 
                on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives.

    (a) <<NOTE: Deadline.>>  Selection.--In accordance with subsections 
(b) and (c), not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of 
this Act, the Secretary of Agriculture shall select no fewer than 9 and 
no more than 15 priority areas for increased trail maintenance 

    (b) Criteria.--Priority areas shall include a well-defined region on 
National Forest System land where the lack of trail maintenance has--
            (1) reduced access to public land;
            (2) led to an increase, or risk of increase, in harm to 
        natural resources;
            (3) jeopardized public safety;
            (4) resulted in trails being impassible by the intended 
        managed users; or
            (5) increased future deferred trail maintenance costs.

    (c) Requirements.--In selecting priority areas, the Secretary 
            (1) <<NOTE: Time period.>>  consider any public input on 
        priority areas received within 3 months of the date of enactment 
        of this Act;
            (2) consider the range of trail users (including motorized 
        and non-motorized trail users); and
            (3) include at least one priority area in each region of the 
        United States Forest Service.

    (d) Increased Trail Maintenance.--
            (1) <<NOTE: Time period.>>  In general.--Within 6 months of 
        the selection of priority areas under subsection (a), and in 
        accordance with paragraph (2), the Secretary shall develop an 
        approach to substantially increase trail maintenance 
        accomplishments within each priority area.
            (2) Contents.--In developing the approach under paragraph 
        (1), the Secretary shall--
                    (A) consider any public input on trail maintenance 
                priorities and needs within any priority area;
                    (B) consider the costs and benefits of increased 
                trail maintenance within each priority area; and
                    (C) incorporate partners and volunteers in the trail 

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            (3) Required trail maintenance.--Utilizing the approach 
        developed under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall substantially 
        increase trail maintenance within each priority area.

    (e) Coordination.--The regional volunteer and partnership 
coordinators may be responsible for assisting partner organizations in 
developing and implementing volunteer and partnership projects to 
increase trail maintenance within priority areas.
    (f) <<NOTE: Review.>>  Revision.--The Secretary shall periodically 
review the priority areas to determine whether revisions are necessary 
and may revise the priority areas, including the selection of new 
priority areas or removal of existing priority areas, at his sole 

    (a) In General.--The Secretary may enter into a cooperative 
agreement with any State, tribal, local governmental, and private entity 
to carry out this Act.
    (b) Contents.--Cooperative agreements authorized under this section 
            (1) improve trail maintenance in a priority area;
            (2) implement the strategy; or
            (3) advance trail maintenance in a manner deemed appropriate 
        by the Secretary.
                    OUTFITTERS AND GUIDES.

    (a) <<NOTE: Time period.>>  Pilot Program.--Within 1 year after the 
date of enactment of this Act, in accordance with this section, the 
Secretary shall establish a pilot program on not less than 20 
administrative units to offset all or part of the land use fee for an 
outfitting and guiding permit by the cost of the work performed by the 
permit holder to construct, improve, or maintain National Forest System 
trails, trailheads, or developed sites that support public use under 
terms established by the Secretary.

    (b) Additional Requirements.--In establishing the pilot program 
authorized by subsection (a), the Secretary shall--
            (1) select administrative units where the pilot program will 
        improve trail maintenance; and
            (2) establish appropriate terms and conditions, including 
        meeting National Quality Standards for Trails and the Trail 
        Management Objectives identified for the trail.

    Approved November 28, 2016.


HOUSE REPORTS: No. 114-770, Pt. 1 (Comm. on Agriculture).
            Sept. 26, considered and passed House.
            Nov. 16, considered and passed Senate.