filed under: conservation


Assessing the Condition and Sustainability of the Trail System at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

This research assessed the condition and sustainability of the trail system at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a National Park Service unit that partners with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the management of this unit.

by U.S. Geological Survey


Tallgrass Prairie Natl Preserve Final Rpt


The Preserve was created through a 10,862-acre TNC land purchase in 2005 which included a “legacy” system of primitive unsurfaced ranching roads. The objectives of this study included assessing the sustainability of the trail system (including trail grades and alignments relative to the topography), its current resource conditions, an inventory of trail system features (stream crossings, gates, signs, culverts), and suggestions to improve trail system sustainability and ability to accommodate increasing use and additional uses such as horses and mountain bikes.

Fieldwork was performed in May 2022, with three field staff driving or walking all system trails to collect georeferenced data and photographs. The field assessment manual (Appendix 1) describes data collection protocols, and all collected data were recorded using a cell phone app (Fulcrum), with data transferred to Excel and ArcGIS Pro for analyses. Additional GIS analyses were conducted using accurate LiDAR Digital Elevation Model (1x1m resolution) topography data to analyze trail grades and landform alignment angles for the entire trail system in 10 ft cells. All georeferenced project data in GIS formats with metadata are a product of this research, in addition to this final report.

Published June 2022

About the Author


Created by an act of Congress in 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey has evolved over the ensuing 125 years, matching its talent and knowledge to the progress of science and technology. The USGS is the sole science agency for the Department of the Interior. It is sought out by thousands of partners and customers for its natural science expertise and its vast earth and biological data holdings.

More articles by this author

More Articles in this Category

Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona Crew Leader Manual

This manual has been written to aid crew leaders working with trail work volunteers. It assumes the following priorities, in order of importance, for every volunteer trail work event: 1) Safety, 2) Enjoyment, 3) Quality product, 4) Productivity.

Colorado Trail Foundation Crew Leader Handbook

As a crew leader you represent the CTF. One of your main jobs is to convey the CTF’s thanks to the volunteers for their commitment to making and preserving The Colorado Trail as a national treasure.

Appalachian Mountain Club 2022 Outdoor Leader Handbook

Outdoor leadership skills can be developed and improved over time through a combination of self-study, formal training and experience. Leadership trainings are offered frequently by volunteers and staff of the AMC. The trainings range from a single day to a weekend. If you are looking for additional training, the AMC offers several courses each season through the Guided Outdoors program.

A Call for Expanding Trails Research

Trails research can help support trail management decision-making and funding by providing objective, quantitative information describing trail users, their numbers and demographics, preferences, and economic expenditures.