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American Trails presented "Current National Recreation/Water Trails: Make the Most of Your Designation!" on November 3, 2016 as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series."




"Current National Recreation/Water Trails: Make the Most of Your Designation!"

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Quinebaug River National
Water Trail, CT



American Trails presented this Webinar on November 3, 2016. It showcases how current National Recreation and Water Trails have used this designation to promote their trails and present you with ideas to highlight your own project. This webinar is presented by Rita Hennessy and Lelia Mellen of the National Park Service, and Sarah Hippensteel Hall of the Miami Conservancy District.

Read more and learn about the presenters...



If you are interested in “attending” an archived version of the webinar, you can download the recorded session on the American Trails website:

MacOS version:

PC version:




CLOSED CAPTIONING: We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with Caption Colorado. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.


Webinar Partner









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Celebrating Bob Bentley and new trailhead on the Black Canyon NRT, Arizona




This webinar will showcase how current National Recreation and Water Trails have used this designation to promote their trails and present you with ideas to highlight your trail(s) during National Trails Day coming up in June 2017 and additional promotional opportunities throughout the year.

The presenters will also discuss the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System (October 2, 2018). With the anniversary coming up, we have plans to promote our current designated NRTs and NWTs at the 2017 International Trails Symposium taking place in Dayton, Ohio May 7-10, 2017 and would love to include you and your trail! 



National Recreation Trails (NRT) website home page:
National Water Trails System (NWTS) website home page:
50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act ~ October 2, 2018:
National Park Service – Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA):
Miami Conservancy District:
National Water Trails Toolbox:



photo of woman

Rita Hennessy


Rita Hennessy, National Park Service

Rita Hennessy, longtime trails administrator and National Park Service veteran, is the new program manager for the Service’s National Trails System. Hennessy’s signature project at the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, or the AT, as it is called, was the cooperative management system. Within this system, she engaged with hundreds of partners and thousands of volunteers. Most recently, she led development of the trail’s foundation document and business plan.

Hennessy holds an undergraduate degree in recreation resource management from the University of Montana and a master’s degree in community change and civic leadership from Antioch McGregor. She has 26 years with the National Park Service. In addition to her service on the Appalachian Trail, she has been stationed at Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and at Rock Creek Park and the National Mall, both in Washington.  


photo of woman with NRT logo

Lelia Mellen



Lelia Mellen, National Park Service - Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance

Lelia works for the National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program as the National Water Trail Leader and the Director of New Hampshire Projects. This is a position she has held for over 20 years and as such she works with national water-oriented groups, community groups, local and state agencies, and nonprofits to help them with their conservation initiatives. These groups ask for assistance on river recreation and protection, open space protection and trail work.

Lelia has helped with organizational development, fundraising, river and water trail management,trail building, event planning, and open space protection. In essence, she grasps the conservation needs and desires of the group and tries to help them meet their goals. Lelia received her Master of Environmental Management from Duke University and her Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Dartmouth College.



photo of woman

Sarah Hippensteel Hall




Sarah Hippensteel Hall, Phd, Manager, Watershed Partnerships, Miami Conservancy District

Sarah believes that water is a critical element for community health and prosperity and communities who enjoy their rivers are more likely to protect their water. She currently serves as the Manager of Watershed Partnerships for the Miami Conservancy District, a 101-year old watershed agency. She builds diverse partnerships across many boundaries to protect and restore healthy rivers and aquifers, and improve and promote river access and recreation.

She graduated from Antioch University in 2010 with a PhD in Leadership and Change. She also teaches undergraduate courses in leadership studies, and resource scarcity and conflict. In 2012 she was presented with a Distinguished Service Award by the Water Management Association of Ohio. In 2015 she was selected to give a TedX Talk entitled “Water. It’s time to make it personal.”


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