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 National Recreation Trail Meeting Notes

National Recreation Trails Revitalization Workgroup Policy Meeting: November 18, 1999

Attendees: National Park Service: Tom Ross, Sam Stokes, Rory Robinson, Doug Evans, Bryan Bowden, Steve Elkinton, Cheri Esperson, Cyndi Szymanski, Joanne DeMoss; Federal Highway Administration: John Fegan, Jeff Olson; Bureau of Land Management: Deborah Smith; American Trails: Kay Lloyd; RTC: Steve Emmett-Mattox; Invited Guests: Mark Leger, GORP; Judy Ellis, Great Graphics

Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was convened and introductions were made. Sam Stokes and Tom Ross thanked everyone for their continued interest, support and effort in the revitalization effort. Sam Stokes introduced Cheri, Cyndi and Joanne, who were recently hired and will be working in Washington, D.C.

Background and History

Rory Robinson provided a history of how the project got started and grew into a partnership effort involving multiple federal agencies and non-profit trail organizations. The concept centers around the idea that while there are different processes by which NRT's get designated, we all have a vested interest in carrying on a dynamic post-designation program so they don't get forgotten after designation.

Accomplishments

Substantial progress has occurred in a number of areas despite the decision to hold off one additional year in publicly announcing the program is back in business and accepting new applications (in deference to the Millennium Trails effort).

1. New Staff: The National Park Service has made a renewed and substantial commitment to the program by dedicating a minimum of a half-time staff person in Washington, D.C. to serve as a liaison and central point of contact. Eventually this will evolve into a larger program coordinator role (currently being performed by the Doug, Rory and Bryan team). That transition will occur gradually as new staff learn the program and Doug, Rory and Bryan complete their work.

2. Survey & Database: Doug Evans provided an overview of the work that has occurred around the task of reestablishing contact with NRT Trail Managers and in updating the database. Doug feels comfortable that contact has been reestablished with over 95% of NRT Trail Managers and indicated that approximately 320 database surveys have been returned for the 800 plus trails that are currently in the NRT registry. Eventually this database will be maintained by American Trails (through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service) and the information will be used in a specially designed web page devoted to NRT's. The survey questionnaire was designed to be compatible with the web page.

3. Millennium Trails: Jeff Olsen (Director, Millennium Trails, U.S. Department of Transportation) provided an update on the status of the Millennium Trails effort, lessons learned, and how the two programs can be integrated. After some discussion, the idea emerged of utilizing the American Trails conference in September 2000 as an opportunity to conclude the Millennium Trails effort on a high note and announce the NRT program is 'back in business'. Everyone agreed to keep thinking and talking about this possibility.

Development and Management of NRT Website

Kay Lloyd (Chair, American Trails Board of Directors) made a presentation about the role of American Trails in the revitalization effort. The Board of Directors recently met at a retreat where they reaffirmed their commitment to the NRT effort. A Cooperative Agreement will be finalized in the next month or so between American Trails and the National Park Service to add NRT program information to the American Trails Trail Explorer web site and manage the NRT listings. This will also include adding all NRT managers to the distribution list of 'Trail Tracks' and the inclusion in each issue of a column focused on NRT's. American Trails is also serving as the lead nonprofit partner on the NRT Roundtable.

GORP Proposal

Mark Leger (Senior Producer, Great Outdoor Recreation Pages (GORP)-- www.gorp.com) made a presentation about the current NRT website information GORP maintains and their ongoing interest in access to current, updated NRT database information. GORP has over 15,000 pages at their website and they generate revenue through advertising and e-commerce. Their staff include professional writers and web designers. Mark indicated the potential exists for partnerships with GORP and their willingness to talk about ideas/proposals. GORP wishes to compliment the efforts of the revitalization effort, not compete (e.g., they may be able to provide technical assistance at no charge to American Trails in development of the American Trails NRT web pages).

In the ensuing discussion, it was generally agreed there are potential roles for both GORP and American Trails. American Trails can target trail managers and trail advocates while GORP can target the end users. Kay Lloyd and Mark Leger agreed to meet (or conference call) separately to further explore their relationship and continue to report back to the 'Roundtable'.

Revision of Application Form/Booklet

The National Park Service has obligated money to redesign and print the NRT Information and Application booklet. Judy Ellis of GREATgraphics! Has been contracted to do the graphic layout and design work. Judy attended the meeting and led a discussion about initial format ideas. It was decided to develop two separate pieces, an information booklet and an application. The information booklet will be the size of a standard business envelope with a middle saddle staple and approximately 8-10 pages in length. Draft text will be developed by Rory, Doug and Bryan and circulated to all roundtable partners (shortly after the new year). It is the intent to design a product that can be universally utilized by all roundtable partners and to develop it through a consensus process. This will be on a fast track and it is hoped to have the brochure printed by March, 2000.

Revised Schedule

May to September, 2000: Announcement/unveiling of new NRT program (exact date TBD, dependent on coordinating with the conclusion of the Millennium Trails effort)

September, 2000: American Trails Symposium, Redding, California

November, 2000: Due date for new NRT applications to NPS for batching and routing for Secretary of the Interior signature/designation.

Note: The U.S. Forest Service will need to establish their own procedures for designating new NRT's to coincide with an annual announcement/celebration on National Trails Day each year. All other federal agencies will need to establish internal application process procedures to enable completed applications to be forwarded to NPS by November each year. NPS will batch all applications requiring Secretary of the Interior signature and route them all together once each year.

National Trails Day, 2001: Announce/Celebrate new NRT designations!

Benefits Package

Bryan Bowden led a discussion about the benefits of NRT designation. The group revisited the June 15, 1998 Proposal to Revitalize the NRT Program which included a section about NRT benefits. The group brainstormed possible additions to this section that included the following:

The point of the conversation is the need to assure there are benefits to NRT designation. Please continue to think about this subject and pass along your thoughts and ideas to Rory, Doug or Bryan.

Individual Assignments

  1. Prepare meeting notes and communicate with people not here (Doug, Rory, Bryan)
  2. Transition from Millennium Trails (Jeff Olsen to explore interest in concluding Millennium Trails on a high note at the National Trails Symposium)
  3. Spring 2000 Trail Track Newsletter (American Trails)
  4. American Trails/GORP Working Relationship (Kay Lloyd and Mark Leger)
  5. Revise Application Form and Information Booklet (Rory, Doug, Bryan)
  6. Graphic Images to Judy Ellis (All)
  7. Finalize Cooperative Agreement with American Trails (Steve Elkinton)

Updated May 30, 2002

The NRT Program on line is hosted by American Trails: http://www.AmericanTrails.org