Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally wants to become the first member of Congress to hike the full length of a federally designated national scenic trail. She recently hiked a seven-mile section of the Arizona Trail on a visit to Flagstaff. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
McSally laced up her hiking shoes near Walnut Canyon with officials from the Coconino National Forest, representatives from Lowell Observatory, and others. The self-described outdoorswoman began linking up sections of the 800-mile Arizona Trail in 2017 when she was a member of the U.S. House. So far, she’s completed about 8 of 43 total passages. McSally acknowledges the project will likely take years, but she’s determined to finish.
"I’m a strong supporter that we have access to public lands and that we’re also a good stewards of the lands that we have … And so I just thought in my role as a public figure we can be kind of a platform to highlight the amazing things in our state," she says.
Environmental groups, however, are critical of McSally’s record in Congress regarding public lands and endangered species protections. The League of Conservation Voters gives her a 6% on its National Environmental Scorecard.
McSally was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey last year to fill the late John McCain’s Senate seat. McCain was a longtime supporter of the Arizona Trail and a driving force behind its federal designation.
It’s one of 11 congressionally approved national scenic trails, including the Appalachian and Pacific Crest.