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Millennium Trails Applications

Millennium Trails is a national initiative of the White House Millennium Council in partnership with the Department of Transportation that will recognize, promote and stimulate the creation of trails to "honor the past and imagine the future" as part of America's legacy for the year 2000. From the earliest routes of our ancestors, to new urban greenways, to itineraries that tell the story of our nation, trails are an important part of the American landscape, providing connections between people, land, history and culture.

What are the major elements of Millennium Trails?

Millennium Trails has three main objectives:

1. To recognize over 2000 trails projects in honor of the millennium, stimulating new activities to celebrate and enhance those trails;
2. To promote existing and new trails to the public;

3. To support the development of new trails through new federal and state funding, and private partnerships.

Recognition of Trails.

Between 1998 and 2000, the Department of Transportation and its nonprofit project partner, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, will recognize Millennium Trails by:

  • Designating twelve "National Millennium Trails" -- trails of national significance. These will be large, visionary projects that allow people to walk or bike to national wonders, trace historic canals and commercial routes, or commemorate trails of discovery and migration.

  • Selecting fifty-two "Millennium Legacy Trails" from nominations by governors in each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Private funds will provide awards to each trail for historic research, promotion, maps and events; to form coalitions with historic and cultural groups; and to leverage more funding.

  • Recognizing up to 2,000 local trails projects as "Community Trails 2000." Community Trails will be nominated directly by local participants and by the national panel from among the trails projects benefiting from local grants through Department of Transportation, National Park Service and other federal and state resources.

  • Each trail will receive a special Millennium Trails marker with the national logo, and will be promoted on the Millennium Trails website. The Millennium Trails website may be accessed by clicking on "What's hot at DOT" on the Department of Transportation website

    Promotion of Millennium Trails

    Each trail will receive a special Millennium Trail marker, and will be encouraged to create a community celebration around the installation of the marker and trail signs. Designation events will honor the many volunteers and public and private partners it takes to create a trail.

    Five major festivals will celebrate visionary trails of regional and national importance that mark the landscapes and cultures that shaped America. For example, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, Indianapolis and Kansas City could simultaneously announce and celebrate the creation of a new "Jazz and More American Music Trail." New York could celebrate its role in immigration in a "Pathways to Freedom" festival in 2000.

    The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy will create a database of trail projects on the Internet, and will encourage trail projects to create their own web pages with itineraries, events, historical and cultural information.

    The Department of Commerce, through its Office for Tourism Industries, and major private partners in the tourism industry, plans to promote Millennium Trails through a new cultural heritage tourism initiative called "American Pathways to 2000."

    On the first weekend in June, 2000 -- traditionally National Trails Day -- the American Hiking Society plans 2,000 Millennium Trails events all over the nation.

    Support for Millennium Trails

    The Department of Transportation is allocating $5 million for this project: $4 million from Public Lands Highway Discretionary Funds and $1 million for coordination over two years.

    Proposals for visionary projects that are candidates for National Millennium Trails are presently under review for Public Lands Highway Discretionary Funds awards. The Department of Transportation has invited states to apply for Millennium Trails projects as part of their annual funding process.

    The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), signed by President Clinton in June, 1998, provides important increased resources for trail projects, including Transportation Enhancements, Scenic Byways, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, Public Lands Highways and other funding sources. Other public agencies and private partners also have resources or funding available for trail planning and construction, historic interpretation, tourism development, cultural promotion, adoption' of trails projects, creating linkages between the arts and trails and other Millennium Trails activities. For example, the National Scenic Trails, National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails recognized by the federal government are administered by the National Park Service, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

    The National Park Service (NPS) conducts a variety of programs to enhance and build trails. Through its Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program, the NPS provides technical assistance to local and state agencies and private organizations working on river and trail corridor projects, including some on old railroad rights-of-way.

    What trails are eligible for designation as Millennium Trails?

    Trail projects to be recognized will exemplify the Millennium theme, "Honor the past - Imagine the future" by providing connections between physical trails, history and culture. For more complete Millennium Trails criteria and applications, visit the Millennium Trails web site at www.millenniumtrails.org

    Who will select Millennium Trails?

    The Department of Transportation and its partner, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, will receive recommendations from a national panel of trail leaders, federal agencies which fund trails, and cultural and tourism sectors. The first of the Millennium Trails to receive new funding will be announced by the end of November, 1998.

    How will the projects link historical, cultural and physical trails?

    Trails may be recreational and scenic trails; they may be linked sites or itineraries; or they may be both. Many trails connect physical pathways to the patterns and cultures of settlement, historical events and sites surrounding the trail. The Freedom Trail in Boston is a good example. It directs walkers along miles of paths, sidewalks and roadways, past sites such as Faneuil Hall -- the Old State House -- and North Church, important to Boston's role in the American Revolution. Many community trail-builders and the nonprofit organizations that support them form coalitions of people who bring their expertise in history, preservation and local traditions to enrich the trails experience.

    Department of Transportation and National Park Service resources are available for this kind of interpretation. In addition, the National Endowment for the Arts is producing a "how to" booklet on ways arts organizations can work with transportation agencies to build successful collaborations on trails. State humanities councils are resources for historic research. State and local preservation groups may be active in saving important buildings, monuments and sites that are destinations for itineraries or that enhance trails. Some sites may be eligible for assistance from Save America's Treasures, a White House Millennium program in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    In one cultural example, the Phoenix, Arizona Arts Commission involved artists in several pedestrian bridges, adding sculptural forms and panels of human, animal and abstract designs. Arts agencies in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee are working to create a mountain musical trail and a Cherokee heritage trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail.

    How can I get involved?

    Whether you are an individual, a business, a public agency or nonprofit organization, there are many opportunities to get involved in the Millennium Trails program. For additional information, please contact:

    Office of the Secretary, S-3
    United States Department of Transportation
    400 Seventh Street, SW
    Washington, DC 20590
    Jeff Olson, R.A. Program Director/Consultant
    Phone: 202/366-4045
    Fax: 202/366-7660
    E-mail: Trails2k@aol.com
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