[United States Statutes at Large, Volume 130, 114th Congress, 2nd Session]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

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. <>

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <>

(a) <>  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.


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.

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) <>  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) <>  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) <>  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. <>  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:

<> ``(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) <>  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) <>  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) <>  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) <>  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) <>  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) <>  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) <>  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.

(a) <>  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.