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Partnership for the National Trails System

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Scotts bluff National Monument on the
Oregon National Historic Trail


The Partnership for the National Trails System was established in 1995 to facilitate interaction and cooperation among the various private groups and government agencies involved with the National Trails System. The Partnership sponsors the annual Conference on National Scenic and Historic Trails. The conference aims to promote visionary and strategic thinking and collaboration for the national trails system. It also provides training in organizational development, budgeting, and planning techniques.

The Partnership for the National Trails System represents the collective interests of the organizations of trail volunteers working in partnership with federal agencies to preserve, protect, develop and maintain America's 19 national scenic and historic trails. Formed during the 2nd National Conference on Scenic and Historic Trails in 1991, the Partnership is the way that these organizations work together for the common benefit of the National Trails System. Sixteen trail organizations are represented in the Partnership. The Partnership serves the organizations of this national trail community by:

The National Trails System is predicated on dynamic partnerships between the federal government and private organizations of citizen volunteers to build, maintain, manage and protect the public trails. The National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management administer the national scenic and historic trails in direct partnership with at least one private organization for each trail. State and local governmental agencies are additional partners for some of the national scenic and historic trails.

Much of the on the ground management of these trails is in the hands of citizen volunteers, unlike the management of most national parks, forests and wildlife areas. For the partnerships sustaining the national scenic and historic trails to thrive requires consistent funding for both the public and private partners. Thus, a primary goal of the Partnership for the National Trails System is to secure adequate annual funding for the federal agencies and for the partner trail organizations.

An annual task is to remind Congress of the nation's heritage embodied in the National Trails System, the benefits of these trails to communities across the land, and the high return of volunteer and local governmental contributions generated by the modest federal investment supporting these trails; all to insure that adequate federal funds are appropriated again to sustain the Trails System.

Only about one-half of the authorized 38,000 mile length of the 19 national scenic and historic trails are open for public use. Only two of the eight national scenic trails are complete for walking end to end and many important sites along the 11 national historic trails are not available for public enjoyment. Another primary goal of the Partnership for the National Trails System is the preservation of all the important historical sites along the national historic trails and of continuous scenic corridors for the national scenic trails.

To complete this system of trails reaching into 44 states will require consistent funding from federal, state and local governments and private donors for acquisition of historic sites and trailway through the next several decades. The federal Land & Water Conservation Fund is a critical source for a major component of the necessary funding. Land & Water Conservation Fund appropriations have been used by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service to purchase a permanent, scenic corridor for the Appalachian and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails.


Gary Werner, Chair
Partnership for the National Trails System
214 N. Henry Street, Suite 203
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 249-7870 Fax: (608) 257-3513


The National Trails Training Partnership

American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 • (530) 605-4395 • Fax: (530) 547-2035 •

The National Trails Training Partnership is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, and providers of products and services. Visit the online calendar of training opportunities, access hundreds of trail-related resources, read the news, learn how you can help, and see training resources in your state.

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement DTFH61-06-H-00023. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.



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