Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (NPP, R) of Puerto Rico, a member of the United States House Committee on Natural Resources, announced the introduction of the Puerto Rico National Scenic Trail Study Act (HR 4218). This bill would authorize a study on the feasibility of establishing a national scenic trail in Puerto Rico, promoting tourism, outdoor recreation, and conservation efforts on the islands.
The proposed Puerto Rico National Scenic Trail would run from the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo to Morrillos Peninsula in Cabo Rojo, following a system of trails and potential trials through El Yunque National Forest, the Sierra de Cayey and Cordillera Central mountain ranges, and the dry forests along the main island’s southwestern coast.
“Puerto Rico has unique ecosystems and landscapes, including the only tropical rainforest in the national forest system, El Yunque. This bill would study the opportunity to enable a federal trail interconnecting protected natural areas from the northeastern coast to the southwestern coast, promoting outdoor recreation, economic development, and conservation,” González-Colón explained. “I appreciate the crucial support of Para la Naturaleza, Love in Motion, Foundation for Puerto Rico, Fundación Amigos de El Yunque, and multiple other organizations for this measure, which would be the first step to officially designate the first National Scenic Trail on the Island.”
“This bill reflects the importance of establishing strategic partnerships to encompass projects at the regional and island levels, involving state and federal governments, community and non-profit organizations, and communities. The diversity in these collaborations directs us to maximize the economic, social, and ecological benefits that would be obtained from an ecotourism project such as the one proposed by the National Scenic Trail. At Para la Naturaleza, we believe that hiking is extremely important for the health of the people and to contribute to the generation of tourism based on the protection of nature,” said Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, president of Para la Naturaleza.
“At Fundación Amigos de El Yunque, we have been supporting the Forest Service in educational initiatives on environmental conservation and responsible recreation for more than 13 years. The development of the Puerto Rico National Scenic Trail will bring community tourism opportunities to our island and will diversify the tourism offer, promoting responsible tourism led by the adjacent communities,” said Carmen N. Portela, executive director of Fundación Amigos de El Yunque.
“We are very grateful to Congresswoman González-Colón for her continued support of our National Forest, and we look forward to continuing to work together,” said Keenan Adams, Forest Supervisor at El Yunque National Forest.
The Puerto Rico National Scenic Trail Study Act is supported by the following organizations: Para la Naturaleza (Puerto Rico Conservation Trust), Foundation for Puerto Rico, and Love in Motion.
National scenic trails are one of the four types of trails authorized by the National Trails System Act of 1968. These primarily non-motorized routes—which display significant physical characteristics of US regions—are designated by Congress and can be backpacked from end-to-end or hiked for short segments. They provide for outdoor recreation and for the conservation and enjoyment of the significant scenic, historic, natural, or cultural qualities of the areas through which such trails may pass. There are currently 11 national scenic trails across the United States.