National Trails System Council April 2020 Update

by Jeff Mast, Assistant National Trail Program Manager, U.S. Forest Service

Greetings trail friends and colleagues!

Thank you to all of you who were able to join the National Trails System Council (NTSC) in-person meeting that took place during Hike the Hill in Washington, D.C. The NTSC took a great deal away from what you shared and appreciates the amazing passion for national trails that was in the room. Here is our April 2020 update.


As with the rest of our country and the world, the coronavirus is continuing to dominate work among council member agencies. Typically, NTSC would be meeting more often than present, trying to carry forward actions and needs of the Council and those raised by partner entities, but the current climate is definitely impacting those work items in the short term. 


The next quarterly meeting of the NTSC, which will be Council members only, is to be held in the April to June timeframe according to our memorandum of understanding. Council members are discussing how to best go about this interagency meeting in light of competing priorities associated with the coronavirus. 


This is a time of great change for the National Trails System Council, with each of the three “Level 1” administering agencies having leadership changes. It is unknown when these positions will be filled permanently, but points of contact are provided below who will be fulfilling Council member roles for the foreseeable future. 

U.S. Forest Service (Current Chair):

  • Jaime Schmidt, National Trail Program Manager, retired in April 2020.
  • April 2020 Update: Current agency lead (will serve as Chair until the end of FY20): Jeff Mast, Assistant National Trail Program Manager (202-253-4912 or
  • June 8, 2020 Update: Acting National Trails Program Lead: Brenda Yankoviak (720-618-0262 or

National Park Service (FY21 Chair):

  • Rita Hennessy, Program Lead for Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Trails Systems, retired in late December 2019. 
  • Current agency lead: John Cannella, Acting Program Lead for Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Trails Systems (505-660-5480 or

Bureau of Land Management (FY22 Chair):

  • Deb Salt, Program Lead for the National Scenic and Historic Trail Program, retired in late January 2020.
  • Current agency lead: Kevin Keeler, Acting Program Lead for the National Scenic and Historic Trail Program (907-903-5699 or

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in Pathways Across America is public domain. All views expressed herein are perspectives of individuals working on behalf of the National Trails System and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Federal agencies.