2008 Virginia Governor’s Conference on Greenways, Blueways and Trails Presentation

I was the Trails Manager for the National Forests in Florida at the time of this conference in 2008 (Oct 4-7). I was asked to enlighten attendees on the Forest Service inventory and budget processes.

Managing a Trails System on National Forests (Inventory and Budget)

Powerpoint Presentaion

USDA Forest Service manages the largest trails program in the world, with over 140,000 miles of trail. This extensive trail network provides a tremendous diversity of recreation opportunities and represents a significant agency investment. As we move forward with trails analysis and setting priorities for our trails program, good sound trail data is the foundation for these efforts. Goal is to have routed linked trail coverage that will enable the Forest Service to develop interactive trails maps that will significantly enhance our customer service to our visitors, as well as meet a wide variety of trail planning and management needs.

Trail Definition
USFS Trail Definition
A Trail is a linear feature constructed for the purpose of allowing the free movement of people, stock, or OHVs.

USFS / NPS / BLM / FWS Interagency Trail Definition
A linear route managed for human-powered, stock, or OHV forms of transportation or for historic or heritage values.

National Forests in Florida Trail Mileages (686.9 miles / 536 miles mixed use roads)

FNST Hiking Horse Mtn Bike OHV MC Mixed-use Roads
Ocala 77.1 24.6 134 22 138 13 107
Apalachicola 72.7 17.2 19.9 34 55 52
Osceola 21.4 5.0 53 377
Totals 171.2 46.8 187 41.9 172 68 536

USFS INFRA Trails (web database)

Congress, Forest Service managers, partners, and the public need complete, accurate and current information about National Forest resources. Infra Trails helps the Forest Service meet these needs by providing an integrated data management tool. Includes inventory, planning, and costing capabilities based on trail program business rules. Infra Trails is a web based application to capture inventory data and other management information in order to determine the cost of managing National Forest System Trails. Infra Trails can integrate its tabular database with the spatial capabilities of a GIS to display trails information in map products and tabular reports. Inventory data is organized by trail. Each trail should be given a unique Trail Number within a district/forest to identify the trail . In addition to general identifying data which defines each trail, Infra lists Linear Events (surface type, jurisdiction, designed use, etc.), Features (structures constructed along a trail), and Tasks (used to calculate costs). Infra also documents annual trail condition surveys and Trail Management Objectives (TMOs).

Infra Trails Required Linear Events (18 attributes)

Accessibility Status, Administrative Organization, Congressional District, County, Designed Use, Historic Significance, Jurisdiction, Managed Use, Managing Organization, Trail Class, Trail Status, Trail Surface, Trail System, Typical Sideslope, Typical Soil Type, Typical Trail Grade, Typical Veg – Brush, Typical Veg – Timber.

Trail Fundamentals (Five Concepts)

The Forest Service considers five fundamental concepts as cornerstones of effective trail planning and management: Trail Type, Trail Class, Designed Use, Managed Use, Design Parameters. These five fundamentals form the basis for trail management objectives.

Trail Management Objectives Instructions (TMO)        TMO Forms

Trail Management Objectives (TMOs) are fundamental building blocks for trail management. TMOs tier from and reflect forest plan, travel management and/or trail-specific management direction. TMOs synthesize and document, in one convenient place, the management intention for the trail, and provide basic reference information for subsequent trail planning, management, condition surveys, and reporting.
The documentation of TMOs for each system trail makes good management sense, and is a pre-requisite for completing a TRACS Survey.

Why TMOs?
A trail can not be effectively managed or a determination made of what’s needed to meet standard until basic questions like these have been answered: What is the purpose of the trail? What type of use is the trail being managed for? What is the intended level of development of the trail? In the past, some trails have been managed based largely on the type or amount of use they were currently getting, without sufficient consideration of the intended use or future trends and needs. This sometimes resulted in managing a trail for a type or level of use that was not compatible with the trail management direction, design, or location. Establishing and communicating the intended TMOs for each system trail is a proactive step that prevents this from occurring.

Trail Type
The three fundamental Trails Types include:
Standard/Terra Trail: The predominant foundation of the trail is ground (as opposed to snow or water); and that is designed and managed to accommodate ground-based trail use.
Snow Trail: The predominant foundation of the trail is snow (as opposed to ground or water); and that is designed and managed to accommodate snow-based trail use.
Water Trail: The predominant foundation of the trail is water (as opposed to ground or snow); and that is designed and managed to accommodate trail use by water craft. There may be ground-based Portage segments of Water Trails.
Trail Class (see attachment trail-class-matrix.pdf below) (see attachment trail-class-photos.pdf below)
The National Trail Classes provide a chronological classification of trail development on a scale ranging from Trail Class 1 to 5
•Trail Class 1: Minimal/Undeveloped Trail
•Trail Class 2: Simple/Minor Development Trail
•Trail Class 3: Developed/Improved Trail
•Trail Class 4: Highly Developed Trail
•Trail Class 5: Fully Developed Trail

Trail Class Matrix

Trail Class Photos

Designed Use
There is only one Designed Use per trail or trail segment. Although the trail may be actively managed for more than one use, and numerous uses may be allowed, only one use is identified as the critical design driver. The Designed Use determines the technical specifications for the design, construction and maintenance of the trail or trail segment. For each Designed Use and applicable Trail Class, there is a corresponding set of nationally standardized technical specifications or Design Parameters.

Managed Use
There may be more than one Managed Use per trail or trail segment. Managed Use indicates a management decision or intent to accommodate and/or encourage a specified type of trail use.

Designed / Managed Uses: Hiker / Pedestrian, Pack & Saddle, Bicycle, Wheelchair, Motorcycle, All Terrain Vehicle, Cross-Country Ski, Snowshoe, Dog Sled, Snowmobile, Watercraft-NonMotorized, Watercraft-Motorized

Design Parameters

The national Trail Design Parameters represent a standardized set of commonly expected construction and maintenance specifications based on Designed Use and Trail Class. Design Parameters include technical specifications regarding: Tread Width, Surface, Grade, Cross-Slope, Clearing, Turns.

TRACS (Trail Assessment and Condition Surveys) Instructions


TRACS is an organized approach for collecting and updating field data on trail conditions and the work needed. A TRACS survey consists of three basic components: Inventory, Assessment, Prescription. TRACS compliments the Infra Trails portion of the Forest Service’s corporate database by providing trail-specific field data needed for program management and planning. By incorporating a common set of terminology, business rules, data fields, and standard trail specifications and drawings, TRACS and Infra Trails help maximize efficiency and consistency in trails data management.

CASM (Trail Condition Assessment Survey Matrix) Guide

CASM Table

CASM was developed to help ensure the effective and efficient use of limited personnel, time, and funding for trail condition surveys and the collection of quality data. CASM recommends trail condition survey methods and accuracies. The higher the level of trail development the higher the expectation for survey accuracy and specificity.

ITDS (Interagency Trail Data Standards)

The ITDS are a core set of 34 standardized trail data attributes with corresponding definitions and values applicable to tabular and spatial data. The ITDS are applicable to all USFS, NPS, BLM, and FWS managed trails, including National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails. Access the ITDS and find out more at: http://home.nps.gov/gis/trails

Forest Service Trails Budget (proposed for 2009)
• National – $75 million
• Southern Region – $6.8 million
• National Forests in Florida – $524,000
• Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) – $1.5 million

Forest Service Trail Program Priorities for 2009

Implement Travel Management Rule
Foster new and expand existing trail partnerships
Trail data clean up: Trail Inventory, TMOs, TRACS
National Scenic and Historic Trails


WorkPlan is a Forest Service corporate work-planning, expense tracking, and accomplishment reporting system. Personnel, Fleet, and Other Resources (contracts, materials, supplies, etc.) data and cost are entered for tracking purposes. Expenses are tracked by use of Job Codes assigned to activities.