Overview and Reference

for the Interagency Trail Data Standards Version 1

 

 

 

Why Interagency Trail Data Standards?

 

Trails of all kinds, including Congressionally and Secretarially designated trails, are receiving greater recognition than ever by the public and governmental agencies as important recreational and cultural resources.  The National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service have worked for many years with each other and with States, local governments and trail organizations to promote and develop trails for the benefit of the public. 

 

Heretofore, there have not been universal standards for trail terminology and data attributes.  However, inter-jurisdictional projects, promotion, and management all suggest the need for universal data standards.  These will enable national, regional, State and trail-level managers and the public to use mutually understood terminology for recording, retrieving and applying spatial and tabular information. Data standards will make it easier for various computer systems to “talk” to one another, so that information can be accessed, exchanged and used by more than one individual, agency or group.  Ease in sharing data increases the capability for enhanced and consistent mapping, inventory, monitoring, condition assessment, maintenance, costing, budgeting, information retrieval, and summary reporting for a variety of internal and external needs.

 

In May of 2001, the Federal Interagency Council on Trails, based on a provision in the January, 2001, Memorandum of Understanding for the Administration and Management of National Historic and National Scenic Trails, assembled an interagency team of trail, data, and subject-matter specialists to develop national-level interagency trail data standards.  This action stemmed from a collective need to inventory, assess and map trail locations and trail resources across multiple jurisdictions throughout the United States.  Over the next three years, the team developed the Interagency Trail Data Standards (ITDS) Version 1 for trails of all kinds.

 

 

Key Points

 

·        The trail data standards are primarily an attempt at finding agreement on terminology.

·        Existing databases will not have to change.

·        The interagency trail data standards are not a database.

·        The ITDS Version 1 is one step in the Federal Government's ongoing process of data standards definition and adoption. The team is currently working with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) community to refine the geospatial components of the standards, within the individual agencies on implementation steps, and with the steering team for Recreation One-Stop to incorporate the standards into that E-government initiative.

 

 

 

A Note about Recreation One-Stop

 

Current Federal Government practice requires agencies to provide information in electronic format to the public.  Recreation One-Stop, an interagency project of the President’s Management Agenda for electronic government (“E-gov”), is striving to meet the need for recreation information in electronic format.  Trails are one component of the federal government’s recreation line of business.  A goal of the Recreation One-Stop initiative is to provide “one-stop shopping” for federal recreation information.  RecML, a component of Recreation One-Stop, will be the collected Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) data standards that define terms for recreation facilities (trails, campgrounds, etc.), activities (hiking, wildlife viewing, etc.), and transactions (reservations, fees, etc.).  The Federal Interagency Council on Trails has been invited by the Recreation One-Stop project to provide the RecML data standards for trails and will be submitting the Interagency Trail Data Standards Version 1 for adoption.

 

 

Legal Underpinnings of the Interagency Trail Data Standards Project  

 

The following mandates and directives recognize the need for the development of data standards.

·        The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (P. L. 104-13)

·        The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) (P. L. 103-62)

·        The President’s E-Government initiative (Recreation One-Stop)

·        The Interagency Memorandum Of Understanding for the Administration and Management of National Historic and Scenic Trails

·        Executive Order 13195

·        "GIS for the National Trails System - An Action Plan", 2001, as requested by Congress

 

 

Underlying Premises for Development of Trail Data Standards

 

Listed below are a few of the basic premises that the ITDS team identified and agreed to during the development of the ITDS Version 1.

 

Factors Considered:

 

·        Interagency Core Data Set:  Represents the minimum set of data that the agencies agree to provide for all agency-managed or administered trails (i.e. System Trails and/or Designated Trails).

 

·        Data Collection and Management:  Data is not cheap!  Each piece of data that is collected and recorded represents a cost in terms of time, database capability and available space.  The subsequent and ongoing need to update certain data attributes represents an additional expense.  The decision to collect, record and manage specific data should always be done considering the benefits and value of the data versus the initial and future cost.

 

·        Standardized Terminology:  Strive to establish and/or use the same terminology among agencies for interagency trail data standards.  When this is not possible, provide crosswalk translation between the interagency data attribute terminology and definitions and that of the individual agency.

 

·        Existing Data Attributes:  If an identified Interagency Core Data Attribute already exists as a standard attribute within one agency, but is not yet standardized and/or used by other agencies, consider adopting the attribute terminology and/or definition that is already in use to maximize efficiencies and minimize confusion or data re-work.

 

·        Field Verification:  To the extent possible, and when applicable, trail data should be based on field verification/inventory.  Formal trail inventory and condition assessments should be done, if they do not already exist.  [Interagency team recommendation]

 

·        Implementation:  The core standards will be implemented and data provided based on current agency priorities and budgets.

 

 

Timeline

 

·        May of 2003:  Draft interagency trail data standards reviewed internally by National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service staff 

·        May 1 – June 30, 2004:  Draft interagency trail data standards reviewed by trail organizations, partners, and other interested entities

·        October, 2004:  US Fish and Wildlife Service joins the team

·        Fall of 2005:  Submit ITDS Version 1 to Recreation One-Stop

·        Fiscal Year 2005:  Refine geospatial components of ITDS Version 1

 

 

Interagency Definition of a Trail

 

Trail:  A linear route managed for human-powered, stock, or OHV forms of transportation or for historic or heritage values.

 

Trails provide public access for opportunities of outdoor recreation as well as access to many significant prehistoric and historic sites.

 

Some portions of historic trails are accessible today, and provide recreational and other benefits, while others, more 'virtual' in nature, provide a cultural and/or historic experience, but are not physically capable of being traversed or accessed.  Historic trails can consist of a path, a route, a corridor, a road, a river/stream, etc.   (See "NHT Corridor Concept" below.)

 

(Refer to individual agency trail definitions for further agency-specific guidance or direction on defining a trail.)

 

The interagency definition is based on and encompasses individual agency definitions of a trail, and includes “standard” trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails.  The definition was adopted by the interagency trail data standards team in July 2002.

 

 

Understanding the National Historic Trails (NHT) Corridor Concept

 

National Historic Trails (NHTs) differ from "regular" trails, which can generally be described, inventoried and managed as one linear route. This is not usually the case with NHTs.  To better understand the inventory and management of NHTs, it is helpful to consider each NHT as an unofficial, informal "corridor", rather than a single line on a map.  Each “NHT corridor” is comprised of two and often three aspects:

 

"NHT1 Designated Route":  What and where is the congressionally designated NHT route and associated NHT heritage sites?  [NHT1 is identified for all NHTs.]

 

"NHT2 Heritage Resources":  What and where is the route and sites where history actually occurred?  [NHT2 occurs on all NHTs, although physical evidence and/or remnants may no longer be present.  Location may be other than the congressionally designated route.]

 

"NHT3 Recreation and/or Interpretive Trail/Road/Sites":  Where/what is the route and associated sites that people can use (i.e. trail/road/site used for recreation or interpretation)?   [May or may not be present.  NHT2 location may vary from the congressionally designated route and/or original, historically used route.]

 

To be effective, NHT administrators and managers rely on data representing two to three of these various components that can occur within an NHT corridor.  It is important to note that “corridor” is used here as an unofficial descriptive concept, and not intended to imply the existence of actual area boundaries.

 

The Interagency NHT Data Standards Team recommends this concept be adopted and used internally to better communicate and explain the management and data needs related to NHTs.

 

 

Selection Criteria for Interagency Core Questions & Data Attributes

 

To focus on the most common trail data needs, eight criteria were used to choose the core set of questions and data attributes that are in the draft interagency trail data standards.

 

Does the Question or Data Attribute….

 

1 Apply to all affected agencies?

 

2 Directly relate to a Core Interagency Question (data output)?

 

3 Have national, regional or state-wide significance?

 

4 Contribute to the minimum data needed to provide a programmatic (heritage, maintenance, natural resources) snapshot of the trail (i.e. inventory, public information)?

 

5 Include the minimum data needed to comply with and reflect applicable laws, regulations, and/or policies?

 

6 Addresses key congressional, OMB, and department-wide reporting requirements?

 

7 (Is the Data Attribute…)  Currently available or obtainable?

 

8 Include those attributes that would set national precedence or affect nation-wide trail management?

 

 

Interagency Core Trail Questions

 

 

Interagency Core Trail Questions

Core Question Applies To These Trails*

Reg. Trail

NST

NHT1
(Desig)

NHT2
(HR)

NHT3
(Rec)

Metadata (Common to all Data Attributes)

 

Metadata

X

X

X

X

X

Trail Identification (Required for All Trail Records)

 

(Common attributes basic to all Core Questions)

X

X

X

X**

X

Basic Trail Information

1

Where is the trail?

X

X

X

X

X

2

What is the total trail length? (in miles)

X

X

X

X**

X

3

Who manages the trail?

X

X

X

X

X

4

What is the trail status?

X

X

 

 

X

5

What is the trail surface?

X

X

 

 

X

Trail Management & Use

6

What agency-specific management direction exists for the trail?

X

X

X

X

X

7

What national designations exist for the trail?

X

X

X

X

X

8

Does the trail pass through a special management area and which one?

X

X

X

X

X

9

What are the actively managed uses of the trail?

X

X

 

 

X

10

What is the Accessibility status of the trail? (ADA)

X

X

 

 

X

11

What is the condition or state of repair of the trail?

X

X

 

 

X

12

How much does it cost to manage the trail?

X

X

 

 

X

Additional Questions Specific Only to NSTs or NHTs

    Additional NST and/or NHT Basic Information

13

Who administers the NST or NHT?

 

X

X

 

X

14

What Visitor Centers are specifically associated with the NHT or NST?
(agency, non-agency)

 

X

X

 

X

15

What visitor facilities exist along the NST or NHT?

Note: Question pending validation/development of data standards by RecOneStop Team

 

X

X

 

X

    NHT Heritage Resource Information

16

Where is the NHT Auto-Tour Route?

 

 

 

 

X

17

What known heritage resources are thematically associated with the NHT?

 

 

 

X

 

18

What High Potential Sites are on the NHT?

 

 

X

 

 

19

What High Potential Segments are on the NHT?

 

 

X

 

 

20

What portions of the NHT have been Certified?

 

 

X

 

 

21

What heritage resources are developed and/or used for public viewing/appreciation?

 

 

X

X

X

22

What is the physical condition rating of the portion(s) of the NHT route where historic use actually took place?

 

 

 

X

 

Core Questions Considered but Deferred

23

NHT1 & NHT2 Question:  How much does it cost to manage the NHT? (administration, planning, construction, maintenance)

Question Deferred for NHT1 & NHT2: Deferred for resolution at later date. (NHT3 included in cost question above.)

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

The type of trail (or aspect of an NHT) that the Core Question applies to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regular Trail:   Any agency-managed trail that is not a designated NST or NHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NST:  National Scenic Trail (Congressionally Designated)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NHT1 (Desig):   Route/s Congressionally designated as the National Historic Trail

 

 

 

NHT2 (HR):   NHT-associated heritage resources (routes and/or sites)

 

 

 

NHT3 (Rec):   NHT-associated recreation or interpretive route and/or site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**

Applicable to associated NHT heritage resource or NHT recreation/interpretive route (trail or road). 
Not applicable to associated NHT sites.