FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Jan. 28, 2021
Patricia Brooks, Patricia@matchmapmedia.com, 202.351.1757
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Names Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) 2020 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion
In remembrance of Jeffrey L. Doppelt, rail-trail philanthropist and award founder, Congresswoman celebrated for decades of commitment to federal trail and active transportation funding.
WASHINGTON—Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has named Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) the 2020 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion for her long-standing efforts to support trail networks in her native Washington, D.C., and across the United States. The award is named in honor of the late rail-trail philanthropist Jeffrey L. Doppelt, who recently passed away from COVID-19.
Rep. Norton, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and chair of its Highways and Transit Subcommittee, has been a major supporter of trails, walking and bicycling in Congress for decades, having consistently sought support for trail provisions in the transportation and infrastructure bills she’s led. In May 2019, she joined RTC in launching the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail from its eastern terminus at the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The developing “Great American” is more than 50% complete and will connect the nation by trail across 3,700 miles and 12 states.
Among her most recent efforts is a bill passed by the House last summer, H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, which includes transformative funding for active transportation and investments in walking and bicycling trails, as well as the first-time inclusion of Active Transportation Connectivity Grants, which RTC indicates are fundamental to advancing trail networks in communities nationwide as part of its Federal Agenda for Active Transportation in 2021.
“Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has long been a champion of our nation’s trails, and we’re thrilled to be able to honor her in this way,” said Ryan Chao, president of RTC. “With her leadership, the U.S. House of Representatives last year passed one of the most visionary federal transportation bills. The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) significantly increases funding for trails, walking and biking projects and prioritizes investments in projects that bring the concept of trail networks to more communities nationwide.”
In an interview recorded in December about her recognition as Rail-Trail Champion, Rep. Norton commented on the role of trails as part of a healthy transportation future.
“Trails are critical, particularly today, to transportation. Trails encourage other forms of transportation [like walking and biking],” said Rep. Norton. “They’re also, when you consider this pandemic, much needed, because they give us a way to be outdoors without close contact with one another. Trails are good generally, but they are particularly important when you consider what we’re going through now in our city and in our country.”
Since 2011, the Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions Award has honored individuals from across the country who have made significant contributions to the rail-trail movement through their hard work, volunteerism and support—in short, those who have gone above and beyond in the name of trails. Learn more about the nation’s Rail-Trail Champions.
“Jeff’s approach to philanthropy was strategic—he always wanted to see his gifts leveraged for more public investments in trails. He knew that was how he could bring the most good,” said Chao. “He signed off on every grant or award that was made in his name and was pleased to recognize Congresswoman Norton. He understood how critical it is to have federal champions for trails.”
Jeffrey L. Doppelt was a long-time member of RTC and invested over $800,000 in the nation’s rail-trails through his support of RTC’s work and the Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund. Gifts in memory of the life of Mr. Doppelt will honor his dedication and commitment to support trail building in every community across the country: railstotrails.org/jeffdoppelt.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the nation’s largest trails organization—with a grassroots community more than 1 million strong—dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines. Connect with RTC at railstotrails.org and @railstotrails on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.