2017 Federal Agency Highlights for the National Trails System

Federal Interagency Council on the National Trails System

The Federal Interagency Council on the National Trails System, with representation from the NPS, BLM, FWS, USFS, FHWA, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, considers issues of interest to the NTS.

  • Documentation — Interagency development and execution of the new 10-year National Trails System memorandum of understanding (January 4, 2017), involving four departments and seven agencies (now includes the United States Bureau of Reclamation).
  • Event — Hosted the second annual National Trail Administrators Roundtable.
  • Organization — Council meetings were paused for restructuring under the new agreement and to identify priorities of the new administration. Meetings will resume in 2018.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

  • Documentation — Completed role as the agency lead for the development of the 10-year NPS MOU.
  • Administration — Administered three trails and engaged in the National Trail Administrators Roundtable (Iditarod, Old Spanish, and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro NHTs).
  • Comprehensive Strategy — Completed the BLM-NPS Old Spanish Trail Comprehensive Strategy.
  • Trail Management — Managed 18 NSHTs on 6,000 miles in 15 States and 2,000 miles of trails under study.
  • Projects — Accomplished 100 percent of planned inventory and monitoring across multiple States, worked to establish NSHT corridors in several resource management plans, and participated in National Environmental Policy Act review of proposed projects. Provided interagency facilitation of the 368 energy corridor project.
  • Inventory — Proposed contracting a standardized methodology for inventory and monitoring, performance, data management, and training, in partnership with FHWA and PNTS.
  • Partnerships — Facilitated interagency/partner 50th Federal Leadership Group; set up an internal 50th field team.
  • Educational Outreach — Developed educational outreach materials including the 50th logo, stickers, large-scale exhibit, stand-up and cinch banners, an interactive sites and segments story map, poster frame, custom trail illustrations, portal signage, and digital media. Drafted a middle school teaching guide and activity book and gathered high quality photos and video content.
  • Social Media — Promoted 50th Anniversary events through Tumblr, the BLM Daily internal site, and Flickr albums.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides stewardship over the construction, maintenance, and preservation of the nation’s highways, bridges, and tunnels. FHWA also conducts research and provides technical assistance to State and local agencies to improve safety, mobility, and livability, and to encourage innovation. Some national scenic and historic trail projects may be eligible for Federal-aid highway funds, especially under the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which provide funds to the States, and the States solicit and select projects for funding. Sample projects chosen in 2017 included:

  • RTP — North Carolina funded a project for material and delivery to rehabilitate a portion of the Appalachian NST through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including a privy.
  • TA — Maryland funded a project to replace missing sidewall, improve structures, repoint stonework, and waterproof the basin of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (Potomac Heritage NST) to make this a fully functioning aqueduct.

National Park Service (NPS)

  • Funding — Provided more than $900,000 in Connect Trails to Parks funding in support of projects connecting national trails with public lands.
  • Documentation — Completed the Old Spanish National Historic Trail Comprehensive Strategy in partnership with BLM.
  • Communications — Facilitated interagency communications team for the 50th Anniversary of Rivers and Trails with press releases, articles, and social media highlights.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

  • Event — The National Wildlife Refuge Week (October 8-14, 2017) theme was selected in recognition of the “Find Your Way” campaign for the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act: “Celebrate America’s rivers and trails by finding your way to a national wildlife refuge.”
  • Trail Segment — On National Trails Day (June 3, 2017) a new segment of the North Country NST was opened that included trails on the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Fergus Falls, MN, with speeches by representatives from the FWS Headquarters and Regional Director for the Upper Midwest Region. Wetland Management Districts, such as the one in Fergus Falls, are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).
  • Website — The FWS NWRS Branch of Communication published a web “story board” about NWRs along the Trail of Tears NHT.

U.S. Forest Service (USFS)

  • Staff — Tony Tooke was sworn in as the 18th Chief of the U.S. Forest Service following the retirement of Tom Tidwell on September 1, 2017.

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.