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Outdoor Enthusiasts Launch the Sam Houston Trail Coalition

(New Waverly, Texas) Individual trail users and recreation user groups today announce creation of the Sam Houston Trail Coalition. This coalition will work closely with the U.S. Forest Service to plan, develop, and maintain a comprehensive and sustainable trail network for diverse outdoor recreation while protecting natural resources and educating the public accordingly. Immediate objectives are development of a Master Trail Plan and working together to secure funding and volunteer support to construct, use, and maintain the trail system.

“At a meeting held on January 23rd,” says Chris Hardy, chair of the Coalition Steering Committee, “six individuals volunteered to serve on a Steering Committee. Since then, the Committee has met three times to get the ball rolling. We are ready to submit membership information and by-laws at the upcoming general meeting for the Coalition’s consideration. We have started a mapping process for additional trails aiming for a twenty-year plan by the end of this year. The whole group has hit the trail running and hopes to keep the momentum going.”

Within an hour of Houston, this 161,154-acre pine forest is surrounded by Montgomery, Walker, Grimes, and San Jacinto counties. The Sam Houston National Forest currently features a cumulative 240 miles of trail featuring the 128 mile Lone Star Hiking Trail, 85 miles of multi-use trail, 8 miles (soon to be 20) of Double Lake Mountain Bike Trail, the 5.3 mile Northern Wilderness Trail, 3 smaller trails in the Cagle Recreation Area, and a Veterans trail. The dense forest is also home to the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker and countless other wildlife. Fishermen, swimmers, and canoe and kayak paddlers also enjoy this spacious wooded escape. However, public entities such as the Sam Houston National Forest are increasingly seeking community and user support to meet increasing demands despite decreasing funds.

This coalition is the result of months of dialogue between various user group members and the U.S. Forest Service. Among those with individual representatives showing an interest are the Lone Star Hiking Trail Club, Greater Houston Off-Road Bicycling Association, Houston Fit AR, the Sierra Club, Trail Riders of Houston, and the Sam Houston National Forest Equestrian Association, to name a few. New individuals and user groups are being sought to ensure all forest user interests are represented.

Those seeking more information are urged to attend the upcoming Sam Houston Trail Coalition meeting on May 22, 2010 from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM at the U.S. Forest Service office, 394 FM 1375 West in New Waverly. Progress to date on membership applications and by-laws will be discussed and election of the first Board of Directors is anticipated. While a website is being developed, information will be available on Facebook at the Sam Houston Trail Coalition page, through the Yahoo group shtrails.

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