National Trails System Council Update

2021-22 marks a year of transition for the National Trails System Council. 

By John Cannella, National Program Manager, NPS National Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Trails Systems.

As many of you know, the National Trails System Council (formerly known as the Federal Interagency Council on Trails) is in the middle of a transition year for many reasons. One is that new staff assuming National Trails System (NTS) leadership positions in the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service came into place between August and November 2020, replacing the previous Council leadership. There’s also a new administration, the continued global pandemic, and several other new people and NTS partnership opportunities developing as we look ahead to the next century of the System. 

Change and transition bring opportunity, and the Council is taking incremental steps to leverage this opportunity. During the current year, the Council is focusing on three primary goal areas: communication, training, and data. The Council is also continuing to support the existing National Trails Administrators Roundtable to stimulate consistency and best practices in trail administration and activities across the 30 Congressionally designated National Scenic and Historic Trails. 

This year, the Council is activating the National Recreation Trails Roundtable to explore best practices and consistency in the recognition of this class of trails that are recognized by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior. And, based on the initiative of National Trail Administrators, the Council is activating the Connecting and Side Trails Task Force to begin exploring best practices related to identification of this class of trails. 

The Council meets at least four times annually. Two of those meetings focus on informational sharing with partners. In addition to the agencies listed earlier, other Federal Council members include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration, and other invited Federal agencies. The next Council informational meeting with partners is planned to be held virtually at the end of August. 

For more information on the Council, please feel free to review the current interagency Memorandum of Understanding that describes it, or reach out to John, Carin, Brenda or other agency members for more information.

National Park Service (Current Chair):

John Cannella, National Manager, National Trails System & National Wild and Scenic Rivers System 

• (505) 660-5480 •

Bureau of Land Management (FY2021-22 Chair):

Carin Farley, Program Lead for the National Scenic and Historic Trails • (505)263-9586 •

U.S. Forest Service (FY 2022-23 Chair):

Brenda Yankoviak, National Trail Program Manager 

• (720) 618-0262 •

View the Interagency Memo of Understanding here.