National Water Trails: Designating Your Trail for NWT Status

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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Event Details

** This event has passed **

July 06, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM (Mountain Time)
12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (Central Time)
01:00 PM to 02:30 PM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers

Learning Credit Cost: FREE


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Webinar Outline

This webinar is a follow up to our webinar National Recreation Trails: Designating Your Trail for NRT Status as it will dive in deeper on the process for trails to become National Water Trails (NWT), which are a subset of the National Recreation Trails (trails that are a part of the National Trails System*). You will hear from National Park Service staff and learn about 7 Best Management Practices for NWTs that include details on the NWT application process, what to expect, and more.

The deadline for applications each year is November 1.

*The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorized creation of a national system of trails comprised of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails, and National Historic Trails.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to navigate the NRT application process
  • Understand the benefits to being a designated NRT
  • Understand the roles of the partners involved


This webinar qualifies as a Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) course (via LA CES).

Questions & Answers

Webinar Resources

  • PowerPoint Presentation: National Water Trails: Designating Your Trail for NWT Status (pdf)
  • National Recreation Trails (NRTs)

    National Water Trails (NWTs)

  • Trail Signage Program for NRTs (Smart Outdoor partnership with American Trails)
  • Fox River Water Trail Forms


    Webinar Partners


    Peter Bonsall, National Trails Program Specialist, National Park Service
    Lakewood, Colorado

    Peter Bonsall is the National Trails Program Specialist for the National Park Service. He provides technical assistance to the National Scenic and Historic Trails and coordinates the National Recreation Trail program for the Department of the Interior.


    Alison Bullock, Community Planner, Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program, National Park Service
    Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Alison Bullock has served as a Community Planner for the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) since 2000, providing technical assistance for trail and conservation projects primarily in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina. Prior to her career with NPS, Alison worked for the State of Tennessee as the Greenways & Trails Coordinator. Alison is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a Master of Science in Planning. She is a past recipient of Great Outdoors Week’s Legends Award and a graduate of NPS’s mid-level management development program. Over the past 25 years, Alison has developed an expertise in planning greenways, water trails, and complex outdoor recreation projects. She has served on the National Water Trails technical review team for annual NWT applications since 2015.


    Karen Ann Miller, AICP, Executive Planner, Kane County Development and Community Services Department
    Geneva, Illinois

    Karen Ann Miller has been a Planner with the Kane County Development Department in Geneva, Illinois for almost twenty-three years. She has had a wide range of responsibilities from local and regional planning to organizing a variety of County functions.

    Recent projects include Co-Chairing the Team developing the newly designated Fabulous Fox! Water Trail, the Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan as part of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, the Greenest Region Compact, the Kane County 2040 Plan and Kane County Planning Cooperative, and the Kane County 2040 Green Infrastructure Plan. Karen also provides planning technical assistance and education to local governments and organizations in Kane County.

    Karen is the past President of the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership and serves on numerous committees within Kane County Government and organizations throughout the region including the Fox Valley Sustainability Network and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a commissioner for the Brookfield, Illinois Planning & Zoning Commission and active in the Brookfield Historical Society.

    Master of Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago

    Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Northern Illinois University


    Closed Captioning

    We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.

    Learning Credits and CEUs

    American Trails is proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

    • American Institute of Certified Planners Continuing Maintenance (AICP CM)
    • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) (most HSW approved)
    • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) CEU equivalency petition
    • CEU/PDH equivalency petition for other accepting organizations

    Learning credits are free for attendees for American Trails webinars and the International Trails Summit, as well as for other trail and outdoor recreation-related conferences, webinars, and workshops we offer credits for. Learn more here.



    While we may individually agree (or disagree) in whole or in part with any or all of the participants, the views expressed in these webinars are not necessarily representative of the views of American Trails as an organization or its board and staff. Unless specific situations are noted by presenters, nothing in American Trails webinars should be considered to be interpreted as a standard.

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    3,965 views • posted 07/03/2023