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.

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