I’ve been wanting to get Jim Kern, founder of the Florida Trail, back on this podcast since he was first on the podcast, the very first episode that launched the podcast in 2018. It took me a while but I finally made it happen. This episode is likely to stir up some thoughts and hopefully some positive conversations. I read Jim’s book Broken Promise: The Plight of our National Trails this summer with the express purpose of speaking to him about the book. If you aren’t familiar with the book or his organization Hiking Trails for America, Jim is very eager to get all of our remaining incomplete National Scenic Trails finished without any road walk gaps. As Florida Trail hikers we all know the problems with the gaps in the trail and all wish for the trail to be complete. While most hiking organizations these days rely on the process of easements or slowly purchasing trail corridors, Jim is advocating for the agencies that manage the scenic trails to use their constitutional powers of eminent domain to complete it. After all, that is how the Appalachian Trail was completed. Why not others?
Another reason I was interested to hear his perspective was because I’ve been mired in some activism here in Texas this summer to save a state park that had been leased for 50 years by the state and had been located on an energy company’s property. Needless to say, I’ve had a crash course in eminent domain law and reading Jim’s book added another dimension to the whole subject. I think I’ll save more commentary on this for a longer podcast episode––I’m contemplating a round table discussion with folks about how we should feasibly move forward in completing all of our national scenic trails. It certainly seems like we should be pushing Congress to do more than they’ve been doing the last several decades.
Even if you haven’t read Jim’s book, this is a fascinating subject and if you pair it with the goals we heard a few episodes ago from the FTA, I think we can all reasonably find a solution to closing the gaps in our long trails.
Music: “Breathing” by Lee Rosevere