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September 18, 2012
In Reply Refer To:
8353 (250/410) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-189
Expires: 09/30/2013
To:                  All Washington Office and Field Office Officials
From:              Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:          Nomination of Proposed National Water Trails
Program Area: Recreation and Visitor Services, National Landscape Conservation System
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) transmits Secretarial Order No. 3319, Establishment of a National Water Trails System, and describes Bureau of Land Management (BLM) procedures for nominating waterways to be designated within that system.
Policy/Action: Offices are encouraged to identify, evaluate and nominate potential waterways for designation as part of the National Water Trails System. The National Water Trails System is a new component of the National Recreation Trail System, established under the authority of the National Trails System Act.  A designated waterway may include a section of a river, lake, shoreline, bay, stream, estuary, ocean, canal, or any combination of waterways that has been designated, mapped, and publicly identified with the intent to provide high-quality outdoor recreation experiences.
Proposed national water trails must meet national recreation trail designation criteria and additional best management practices, including:
  • Open to public use and designed, constructed and maintained according to best management practices;
  • In compliance with applicable land use plans and environmental laws;  
  • Will be open for public use for at least ten consecutive years after designation;
  • Supported by the public or private landowners whose property the trail and access points crosses; and 
  • Incorporates best management practices related to recreation opportunities, trail maintenance, education, conservation, public information, community support and planning. 
Offices will identify, evaluate, and recommend potential national water trails following the requirements outlined in Manual 8353 - Trail Management Areas – Secretarially Designated National Recreation, Water, and Connecting and Side Trails. This can be accomplished through a land use planning process, an activity-level planning process, or a stand-alone recommendation process.
Secretarially designated trails on BLM land and associated waters are administered through the Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning. Applications should be provided to the Division Chief, Recreation and Visitor Services (WO-250), for review and concurrence, prior to submitting applications to the National Park Service (NPS) for consideration. 
Background: In a Secretarial Order signed on February 29, 2012, the Secretary of the Interior established a National Water Trails System as a component of the National Trails System. The purpose of the order is to provide high quality outdoor recreational experiences by establishing a ‘national network of exceptional water trails that can be sustained by an ever growing and vibrant water trail community.’ Exemplary water trails are designated by the Secretary of the Interior from a list of nominations provided by the NPS after an interagency review.
The National Water Trails System website at www.nps.gov/watertrails includes detailed information about the system, the benefits of joining the system, application requirements, and the application form. 
Timeframe: This policy is effective immediately. Applications are currently being accepted by NPS on a ‘rolling’ basis, so there is no annual deadline for submitting applications.
Budget Impact: Budget impact will be minimal.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
Coordination: Development of this IM was coordinated with the Renewable Resources and Planning Directorate (WO-200) and National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships Directorate (WO-400).
Contact: Questions may be directed to either Judi Zuckert or Rob Perrin, Division of Recreation and Visitor Services (WO-250).  Judi may be reached by telephone at 208-373-3979, or by email at jzuckert@blm.gov. Rob may be reached at 202-912-7094 or by email at rperrin@blm.gov.
Signed by:                                                                    Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                       Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                        Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
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Last updated: 09-21-2012