Launching the USDA Forest Service’s 10-year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge in the Eastern Region

Strong partnerships, increased capacity, and more sustainable trails

This report was produced by American Trails in partnership with the USDA Forest Service USFS Eastern Region. The report and the engagement process that it chronicles represent the kind of cooperation that the 10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship calls for. It has been a pleasure to share in this experience and launch the Trail Challenge in the Eastern Region!

by USDA Forest Service, American Trails

The10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge (Trail Challenge) evolved from the National Strategy for a Sustainable Trail System and the 2016 USFS Stewardship Act. It was initiated in 2020 by the Trails Program of the USDA Forest Service with the intent to engage partner organizations in two major stated goals:

1. Increase collective trail workforce capacity for all field units
2. Increase trail sustainability on the more than 160,000 miles of National Forest System trails.

The National Headquarters charged each region with supporting field units (National Forests and Grasslands and their Ranger Districts) with implementation of the Trail Challenge. The Eastern Region chose an innovative approach to initiate the first phase of the Trail Challenge, entitled “Launch and Learn”, entering a partnership with the nonprofit organization American Trails. An agreement between the Eastern Region and American Trails identified four goals:

  • Develop understanding and support of the Trail Challenge
  • Build partner engagement across all Forests (and Prairie) in the Region
  • Promote public awareness of trails to increase the appreciation, enjoyment, preservation, and use by all trail users
  • Strengthen the capacity of nonprofit partners to assist Federal agencies in developing and sustaining the trails programs throughout the Region

This report has been developed to document the results of the region’s Launch and Learn phase. It describes the process, recommended actions for agency managers and partners, a set of useful tools, and success stories within the region.

American Trails, working together with Eastern Region Recreation and Trails leadership, engaged a broad spectrum of Forest Service employees at all levels and both current and prospective partners to launch the Trail Challenge.

Attached document published October 2023

About the Authors


To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.


American Trails celebrates decades of working on behalf of all trail interests. Our website is one of the world's most comprehensive online sources for planning, building, designing, funding, managing, enhancing, and supporting trails, greenways, and blueways.

More articles by these authors

Webinars on YouTube that you might like

Managing Winter Trails: Increasing Opportunities and Adapting to Climate Change

Nov 15, 2018

The webinar will be centered around groomed winter trails for XC skiers, but will also address the importance of providing opportunities for snowshoeing, fatbiking, winter hiking, and winter trail running.

More resources in this category

The Trail Partnership Research Project Final Report

posted Jun 21, 2024

This project applied a research-based approach to examine and assess existing trail stewardship partnerships and to provide on-the-ground managers with knowledge and practical strategies to increase capacity and improve their ability to engage in effective partnerships for trail work.

ON FIRE: The Report of the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission

posted Oct 2, 2023

The wildfire crisis in the United States is urgent, severe, and far reaching. Wildfire is no longer simply a land management problem, nor is it isolated to certain regions or geographies. Across this nation, increasingly destructive wildfires are posing ever-greater threats to human lives, livelihoods, and public safety.

Trails and Resilience: Review of the Role of Trails in Climate Resilience and Emergency Response

posted Apr 12, 2023

Trails are often overlooked as elements of essential infrastructure for a resilient transportation system.1 In emergencies where other transportation facilities are shut down or inaccessible, people may use trails to get where they need to go.

2023 Legacy Trails Program Grant Awardee Portal

posted Apr 3, 2023

Below you will find documents that may be useful as you prepare your invoices.


787 views • posted 10/10/2023