John Cannella selected as NPS National Trails and Rivers Systems program manager

Adapted from an October 14, 2020 email from Bob Ratcliffe, Division Chief, Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs, National Park Service

John Cannella

John Cannella has been selected as the National Park Service’s new National Trails and Rivers Systems program manager! Many of you know and have worked with John for years and most recently in his 6 month detail helping NPS by filling in behind Rita Hennessy. John can be contacted at

John brings a great depth of knowledge, experience, and passion about the NPS, our national special area systems, our partners, and the challenges and opportunities facing our Rivers and Trails systems. He will be officially starting on November 8, 2020 and will continue to live in and work out of the NPS office in Santa Fe, NM.
John grew up in northern New York state spending time in nearby woods, experiencing the streams and lakes of the area, and listening to his grandfather’s stories, especially the ones relaying time in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Over the last two decades John has been in the Southwest, where he joined the NPS in 2004.
For almost 12 years, John has been working with a range of partners and colleagues across the country in different roles tied to the National Trails System. Most recently he has served as the Deputy Superintendent for the NPS National Trails office (NTIR) headquartered in Santa Fe, NM. NTIR administers nine national historic trails (Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, California, Pony Express, Santa Fe, Old Spanish, Trail of Tears, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, and El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trails), manages the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, and leads feasibility studies and other planning for potential and new additions to the National Trails System.
Some of John’s accomplishments include developing a partnership across a group of NPS parks to expand GIS utilization through resource sharing, co-founding the National Trails System GIS Network, participating in the interagency National Trails System Administrators Roundtable since it began, serving as the coordinator for the roundtable for the last year, and serving as the acting NPS lead for the National Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Trails Systems for most of this year.
Prior to joining the NPS, John worked for other Federal agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations. He has held positions focusing on a diversity of topics that have included trails, GIS, natural and cultural resources management, plant ecology, paleoecology, and global change. John earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from St. Lawrence University, graduated from the NPS Generating Organizational Advancement & Leadership (GOAL) Academy, and received a Master’s in public administration from the University of New Mexico.
He enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, camping, and playing ice hockey.