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Heinrich introduces bipartisan bill to finish Continental Divide trail

Since 1978, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail has provided those willing to traverse its more than 3,000 miles of scenic terrain with views from the Canadian border all the way to New Mexico.

However, despite its 44-year existence, there are still sections of the trail that are not fully completed. With help of legislators in Washington, D.C., this may no longer be the case come the trail’s 50th anniversary.

On Friday, U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. and Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced a bill that would direct the U.S. departments of Agriculture and the Interior to prioritize the trail’s completion by 2028, according to a news release from Heinrich’s office.

The bill — titled the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act — was first introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., in July, according to the release.

If passed into law, it would direct the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, and Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, to create a Trail Completion Team in order to review and acquire land to complete the long-spanning trail. According to the news release, the team would include staff from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

The act would prohibit the use of eminent domain to complete the trail and states federal managers should recognize the value of cooperation with states, towns and Native communities.

According to Friday’s news release, there are more than 160 miles of the trail that require the use of roadways and highways to be traversed and 600 miles of the trail that need to be relocated.