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Benefits of National Recreation Trail designation

National Recreation Trails: a celebration of America

By Stuart Macdonald

From Fall 2001 Trail Tracks, the national newsletter of American Trails

Why are we emphasizing National Recreation Trails? Because trail groups, states, and federal agencies agree that the NRT Program is a great way to celebrate America's trails and greenways. Even as we struggle with budgets and priorities, more people than ever are using trails, and we need more help from funding as well as volunteers to help care for our parks and public lands.

The NRT Program grew out of a realization that we need as many tools as possible for preserving our trails. To keep our trails system healthy and growing we need to publicize the efforts of volunteers, communities, and agencies on behalf of our pathways. We would like to thank all these people, as well as the NRT managers, for being part of America's community of trails and celebrating with us:

  • Trails that celebrate freedom and the great outdoors
  • Trails that embody America's values of diversity, community, and volunteerism
  • Trails that make our communities more livable
  • Trails that showcase preservation of open space and wildlife habitat
  • Trails that bring nature to persons with disabilities
  • Trails that teach creativity and problem solving
  • Trails that celebrate America's history and future

Nominations now accepted for new National Recreation Trails

November 1 is the deadline for nominating your trail for designation as a National Recreation Trail. Great trails that show off the diversity and importance of trails and greenways in America are invited to apply, as well as trails that demonstrate state-of-the-art design and management. The basic requirements are fairly simple:

  • The trail managing agency is responsible for submitting the application along with supporting letters, maps, photos, and other documentation.
  • The trail must be open to public use and designed, constructed, and maintained to the trail managing agency's standards.
  • The trail manager is willing to certify that the trail will be open for public use for at least 10 consecutive years after designation.
  • NRT designation must be supported by the landowner(s).

For more information and application forms for National Recreation Trails designation see the NRT Web site:

  • You can also contact the American Trails office at or (530) 547-2060;
  • or the NRT Program Coordinator, RTCA Program, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, (Org Code 2235), Washington DC 20240-0001; Phone (202) 354-6920

More resources:


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