WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act, legislation directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior to prioritize completion of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) by the trail’s 50th anniversary in 2028. U.S. Representative Joe Neguse introduced the legislation in the House in July.
“The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail not only passes through some of our most incredible natural, historic, and cultural sites, but is also a major source of economic opportunity for communities along the trail,” said Heinrich. “With this legislation, we can make the CDT safer and more accessible so that more people can experience and explore our nation’s great outdoors.”
“The Continental Divide Trail provides an unmatched outdoor experience for Montanans and visitors alike,” said Daines. “My bipartisan bill ensures the trail will continue to provide public access and a continuous route will finally be completed!”
Designated by Congress as part of the National Trail System in 1978, the CDT stretches more than 3,000 miles and passes through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The trail follows the Continental Divide and transverses some of the nation’s most treasured natural, historic, and cultural resources.
Since the CDT’s creation, stakeholders have worked tirelessly to complete the trail. Today, more than 160 miles of the trail require diversions onto roadways and highways, and 600 miles of the trail require relocation. Closing these gaps and relocating these segments will help better maintain the trail’s purpose while ensuring a safer and more enjoyable journey for visitors.
The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act would:
The legislation has the backing of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and a number of organizations and businesses.
"As the Continental Divide Trail Coalition enters its second decade of stewardship of the CDT, we could not be more grateful for the leadership of Senator Heinrich and Senator Daines in recognizing this important piece of the CDT Experience. This legislation demonstrates that along the Divide, the CDT is a common ground that has the ability to unify and inspire a shared vision for the future, even despite the many challenges we face in current times and many differing opinions on the solutions. By filling in the gap sections, the CDT will not only become a safer and more accessible experience for all trail travelers, but this mandate for completion will also help to ensure that the original promise made by Congress 44 years ago, of a continuous footpath offering a remote, natural experience from Mexico to Canada along the Divide, becomes a reality,” said Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.
A copy of the full bill text of the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act can be found here.