16 USC 1241 - Congressional statement of policy and declaration of purpose

(a) Considerations for determining establishment of trails 
In order to provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreation needs of an expanding population and in order to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation, trails should be established
(i)  primarily, near the urban areas of the Nation, and
(ii)  secondarily, within scenic areas and along historic travel routes of the Nation, which are often more remotely located.
(b) Initial components 
The purpose of this chapter is to provide the means for attaining these objectives by instituting a national system of recreation, scenic and historic trails, by designating the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail as the initial components of that system, and by prescribing the methods by which, and standards according to which, additional components may be added to the system.

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(c) Volunteer citizen involvement 
The Congress recognizes the valuable contributions that volunteers and private, nonprofit trail groups have made to the development and maintenance of the Nations trails. In recognition of these contributions, it is further the purpose of this chapter to encourage and assist volunteer citizen involvement in the planning, development, maintenance, and management, where appropriate, of trails.