North Country Scenic Trail granted unit status
LOWELL — More resources and recognition are coming to the North Country Scenic Trail as it gains unit status from the National Park Service.
The North Country Trail which runs 4,800 miles from North Dakota to Vermont, passes through the Upper Peninsula, including Marquette. At this length, it’s officially the longest of the 11 National Scenic Trails.
“Now, when the National Park Service tells the story of the amazing scenic and recreational opportunities provided by the National Park System, it will tell our stories too — the stories of all the National Scenic Trails it administers in cooperation with other units of government, nonprofit organizations, volunteers and private landowners,” former National Park Service superintendent of the North Country Trail, Tom Gilbert, said.
With recognition from the National Park Service, the North Country Trail will now have access to additional resources and funding opportunities. It also provides equal legal standing with other national trails and parks.
Six of these 11 trails are administered by the National Park Service but at the time of their official National Scenic Trail designation, only three were identified as units: the Appalachian Trail, Natchez Trace Trail, and Potomac Heritage Trail.
Unit status was missing, for no clear reason, from wording in the law for the remaining three: the North Country Trail, Ice Age Trail and New England Trail. This means they were not recognized as units of the National Park Service, and thus, not promoted to the American public.
“This has been a long time coming for the North Country Trail, the Ice Age Trail and the New England Trail. Many people, over many years, with the support of the entire trail community, have been working hard to achieve this,” said Marquette Area Chapter board member Brad Slagle. “Unit status elevates the NCNST and recognizes all the volunteers and supporters of the premier long-distance trail that traverses the northern United States.”
“The stewards of these three trails have called for equality for 30 years, so we’re thrilled by Director Sams’ decision,” said Andrea Ketchmark, executive director of the North Country Trail Association. “This is such a win for us, our partners and our volunteers, who work so hard to build, maintain and protect the trail.”