National Water Trails: The Why and How of Designating Your Water Trail

This webinar will dive in deeper on the process for trails to become designated National Water Trails, which are a subset of the National Recreation Trails.

Presented by:

Event Details

** This event has passed **

July 07, 2022

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


Closed Captioning is available for this webinar.
Learning Credits
are available for this webinar.

Watch on YouTube

Get learning credits, transcript, and resources

This webinar is free. Would you consider a donation to support this webinar?


Webinar Outline

This webinar is a follow up to our webinar Fundamentals of the National Recreation Trails Program 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 a manager of a newly designated NWT who will share their experience with the NWT application process, their responsibilities as water trail managers, and how NWT designation has impacted their community (locally, tourism, etc.). You will also 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 NWT application process
  • Understand the benefits to being a designated NWT
  • Understand the roles of the partners involved


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

Webinar Resources

National Recreation Trails (NRTs)

National Water Trails (NWTs)

  • Trail Signage Program for NRTs (Smart Outdoor partnership with American Trails)

    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.


    Mike Passo, Executive Director, American Trails
    Marshfield, Wisconsin

    Mike Passo is the Executive Director of American Trails. Mike has also served as the Executive Director of the Professional Trailbuilders Association and the owner and operator of a sea kayak outfitter called Elakah Expeditions. Mike has led groups of all backgrounds, ages and abilities on sea kayak expeditions in the San Juan Islands of Washington, Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Mike has conducted an extensive study of outdoor developed areas nationwide to determine the cost implications of construction according to proposed Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and a Congressional study on improving access to outdoor recreational activities on federal land. He has a B.S. in Recreation Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, including three years’ coursework in Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering. He has presented on Universal Design and Programming at several national conferences and served on the Board of Directors of American Trails since 2000. His love of the outdoors and his own paraplegia has given him a great interest in the creation of an accessible outdoor environment that does not ruin the characteristics and value of that environment.


    Rachelle Wright, Project Director, Cave Country Trails, Inc.
    Munfordville, KY

    Rachelle Wright is the project director for Cave Country Trails, one of the managers of the Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway, a designated National Water Trail. With a background in education and federal programs, she is also now heavily involved in the tourism industry. Starting on the frontlines, she is now the lead consultant for Kentucky Content - where she helps a variety of tourism entities with digital marketing. When not focused on trails and tourism, she can be found enjoying the company of farm animals and family on the banks of the Green River.

    Cave Country Trails is a non-profit that exists to get people on trails in a five county region of Kentucky that includes Mammoth Cave National Park. It began with public input sessions, conducted in partnership with the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. During Wright’s tenure she has assisted with the realization of the National Water Trail designation, promoted their newly designated US Bike Route 23 and led campaigns that focus on trail use for health and as an economic builder.


    Vanessa Ulm, Executive Director, Edmonson County KY
    Brownsville, Kentucky

    Vanessa Ulm is the Executive Director for the Edmonson County Tourist & Convention Commission. A job seemingly tailor-made for her personality and talents, she recently celebrated her one-year anniversary. With an extensive background in the corporate world as a Merchandiser focusing on market trends and consumer growth, the pandemic served as an opportunity to jump into an exciting new challenge. In this new role she has focused on reviving the tourism marketing of the county, which includes Mammoth Cave National Park, Nolin Lake State Park, and other highly sought-after outdoor adventures. In between promoting the beauty of Edmonson County, she can be found playing the part of tourist, as traveling is in her blood. When rooted at home, she enjoys time with her family, pets, and books!


    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.

    Terms and Privacy Policy

    By registering for our webinars, you submit your information to the webinar organizer and associated presenters and sponsors, who may use it to communicate with you regarding this event and their other services. Your organization may also be added to the American Trails Business Directory. You can easily cancel your registration at any time.

    6,527 views • posted 06/15/2022