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February 12, 2008
In Reply Refer To:
8340, 8341, 8342, 8358, 9100 (250) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-069
Expires: 09/30/2009
To:                   All Field Officials
Attn:                Outdoor Recreation Planners, Engineers, Land Use Planners, and
                        National Landscape Conservation System
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:            Addressing National Recreation Trails in the Land Use Planning Process
Program Areas: Special Designations, Land Use Planning, Environmental Assessments, Travel and Transportation Management, and Recreation and Visitor Services.
Purpose: This directive clarifies the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policy for recommending National Recreation Trail (NRT) designations and conducting post-designation review through the land use planning process.   
Policy/Action: The BLM will consider recommendations for NRT designation to the Secretary of the Interior, through the land use planning process. Recommendations for these designations are considered “Land Use Plan Decisions” and guide future land management actions and subsequent site specific implementation decisions. Secondly, new NRT designations made by the Secretary not addressed in an existing Resource Management Plan (RMP) will require post-designation review. The following actions will be taken to implement this policy:
  1. This Instruction Memorandum (IM) clarifies the BLM’s H-1601, Land Use Planning Handbook, Appendix C, B. 6. Guidance regarding NRTs. A NRT recommendation is considered a land use planning decision since subsequent Secretarial designation is normally procedural. For Secretarial designations made outside a BLM RMP recommendation where the BLM land is involved, a plan amendment or plan maintenance action is required. In certain cases, a NRT recommended and analyzed in an RMP, but not included in the Record of Decision (for example, in anticipation of a land acquisition), may be remedied through a plan maintenance action.
  2. The level of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis required for these designation-related actions needs to be reviewed on case-by-case basis so the resulting impact to resource values can be adequately assessed. Requirements associated with the BLM’s NEPA Handbook and the Categorical Exclusion (CX) review process should be reviewed to address NRT designations when completed outside of a RMP/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Record of Decision.
  3. Factors to consider when making recommendations for NRT designations and determining what sort of planning action is appropriate include whether the proposed NRT is an existing trail. Is additional trail construction needed to complete the trail to be designated? Are valid existing rights in place that could degrade the values of the NRT?   Is the NRT designation proposal controversial and/or has the public participation taken place? The response to these questions will help determine the subsequent necessary planning action and the required level of NEPA analysis (EA or EIS level plan amendment).
Time Frame: This policy is effective immediately. 
Budget Impact: No budget impact is anticipated.
Background: The BLM has the opportunity to recommend trails for NRT designation annually by completing a NRT nomination form. These nominations are sent to the National Park Service’s (NPS), NRT Coordinator. The NPS ensures the nominations are of NRT quality, endorses the nominations and sends them on to the Secretary of the Interior who then designates the new NRT’s typically around National Trails Day weekend in June. 
In addition, NRT proposals that the BLM recommends to the Secretary of the Interior must satisfy the following interagency criteria:
  1. The trail is in existence and will be available for public use for at least 10 consecutive years after designation.
  2. The trail has been designed, constructed, and is maintained according to best management practices, in keeping with the use anticipated.
  3. The trail is in compliance with applicable land use plans and environmental laws.
  4. All landowners, public or private, whose property the trail crosses, have given their consent to the application.
  5. Roads and trails suitable for passenger car travel are not eligible for NRT designation.
Directives Affected: Clarifies the BLM’s H-1601 Appendix C, B. 6 Land Use Planning Handbook.
Coordination: The BLM’s National Recreation and Visitor Services Division (WO-250) and the BLM’s National Planning and Science Policy Division (WO-210) coordinated the preparation of this IM. The BLM State Travel Management Coordinators and NLCS advisor were contacted for input on this policy. In addition, the NPS NRT Coordinator reviewed and concurred with this IM.
Contact: Should you have any questions, please contact Bob Ratcliffe, Division Chief, Recreation and Visitor Services, at 202-452-5040, or Mark Goldbach, Senior Outdoor Recreation Specialist, at 202-452-5176.
Signed by:                                                                   
Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                      
Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                        
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning

Last updated: 10-21-2009