National Park Service Maintenance Action Teams, A Revolutionary Approach to Trail Rehabilitation

An important Revolutionary War site has improved access and opportunities to discover its historical and recreational features because of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). In its ongoing commitment to preserving America's natural and cultural treasures, the National Park Service (NPS) Maintenance Action Team (MAT) program continues to take significant steps in addressing critical facility projects across small and medium-sized parks nationwide.

Funded by GAOA’s Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF), skilled NPS personnel from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) recently traveled to Ninety Six National Historic Site in South Carolina to repair and revitalize important infrastructure in the park. In 2026, the country will commemorate the 250thanniversary of its founding and sites, including this scene of a Revolutionary War siege, are expected to receive increased interest and visitation.

The impact of the project work is evident in the extensive improvements made to the trail system. Over eight miles of trails have been revitalized, with multiple bridges, boardwalks, and tributary crossings refurbished or replaced. Notably, the Fishermen’s Trail underwent a remarkable transformation, now offering improved accessibility and recreational opportunities, including two accessible fishing bump-outs, along the eastern shoreline of Star Fort Pond, the site’s 27-acre fishing lake and official South Carolina state fishery.

Collage showcasing an wheelchair user and group of NPS employees standing near water on a sunny day.
MAT participants experience the newly transformed Fishermen’s Trail at Ninety Six National Historic Site in South Carolina.

Photo courtesy of St. Claire Donaghy, Staff Writer for the Index Journal

In addition to physical enhancements, the Maintenance Action Team repaired significant damage resulting from a major storm in June 2023. Their work not only restored vital infrastructure but also ensured visitor safety and enriched the overall visitor experience.

"Small parks like this often don’t have the staff or expertise to complete major rehabilitation projects,” said Joshua D. Manley, superintendent of Ninety Six National Historical Site. "The MAT program addresses critical facility needs and provides invaluable training and skill development opportunities for youth program participants and current park staff."

MATs were created to address deferred maintenance and repair needs in small and medium-sized parks. Consisting of a mix of skilled tradespeople from NPS historic preservation training centers, park staff, and members of Youth and Service Corps, these teams offer a scalable, cost-effective solution to the challenges faced by under-resourced parks.

The impact of MAT projects extends far beyond immediate maintenance needs. By recruiting and training the next generation of trades, preservation, and facility specialists, MATs are laying the groundwork for the long-term stewardship of our nation's critical assets. Moreover, these projects create operational savings, enhance preventative maintenance capabilities, and stabilize funding programs through accurate scoping and cost estimating.

For more information on MAT projects and their impact, visit the National Park Service Maintenance Action Team webpage.

Ninety Six National Historic Site

Last updated: April 4, 2024