National Scenic and Historic Trail Administration

This manual provides the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policy and program guidance on administering congressionally designated National Trails as assigned by the Department of the Interior within the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) and this manual describes the BLM’s roles, responsibilities, agency interrelationships, and policy requirements for National Trail Administrators

by Bureau of Land Management

National Scenic and Historic Trails (National Trails) are authorized and designated only by Act of Congress. Congress may authorize the BLM, through the Secretary, as the agency most likely to administer a designated trail, to make studies for the purpose of determining the feasibility and desirability of designating other trails as National Scenic or National Historic Trails (National Trail Feasibility Study).

The Secretary charged with National Trail administration following congressional designation of a trail executes requirements under the National Trails System Act (NTSA), which may include establishing an advisory council for each trail, completing a trailwide Comprehensive Plan, and leading efforts to develop the trail in coordination with land managing agencies. National Trail administration responsibilities are fulfilled as directed in the NTSA in coordination with tribes; other National Trail Administrators; National Trail managing agencies (including all BLM public land managers along the congressionally designated National Trail); other Federal, state, and local government agencies; private and nonprofit organizations; willing landowners; land users; and individuals (herein referred to as tribes, affected agencies, willing landowners, partners, and interested parties).

One of the purposes of the NTSA is to encourage public/private partnerships as a founding principle. Interested publics or grassroots organizations work on, help identify the location of, and assist in managing a subject trail along with the agencies responsible for administration and management of the trail area.

Attached document published July 2012

About the Author


The Bureau of Land Management in the US Dept. of the Interior sponsors many courses and workshops through a variety of training opportunities. Trails, recreation, land management, technical training, and public involvement are topics that are frequently covered. The BLM has also been a leader in establishing and developing the National Trails Training Partnership.

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Discover the benefits to designating your trail(s) as an NWT, the history of the National Recreation Trails (NRT) program and its subset National Water Trails, the process for trails to become NWTs, and more.

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271 views • posted 08/17/2020