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

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.

Attached document 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

Webinars on YouTube that you might like

Got Mud: Tackling Mud and Erosion on Equestrian Trails

Aug 31, 2023

This webinar aims to address these challenges by focusing on effective construction techniques, recommended products, and best management practices for trail planning, construction, and maintenance.

Porous Flexible Pavement, Asphalt, or Porous Asphalt

Aug 24, 2023

This webinar will discuss the various types of materials used for paved, multi-use trails in the District of Columbia and lessons learned.

More resources in this category

Building a Permeable, Low Maintenance Recreational Trail Along a Shoreline

posted Apr 7, 2023

In 2009, the city of The Colony planned to build a recreational trail (10 foot-wide, 3.5 mile pathway) that would run along the lake’s shoreline, contouring to its natural shape and providing residents with a picturesque route for outdoor activities such as walking, jogging, and cycling. The city selected the GEOWEB® Soil Stabilization System due to its flexibility to conform to curves, surface permeability, and low maintenance design.

The influence of use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss from recreational trails

posted Jul 15, 2022

This research investigated the influence of several use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss on recreational trails and roads at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the U.S. National Park Service.

All-Terrain Vehicle Sustainability Assessments

posted Jul 15, 2022

The sustainable management of ATV use is an expensive proposition requiring careful design, construction, and maintenance of ATV trails.

The Influence of Layout on Appalachian Trail Soil Loss, Widening, and Muddiness

posted Jul 15, 2022

This research investigates the influence of layout and design on the severity of trail degradation.

745 views • posted 07/15/2022