The John Smith Chesapeake Trail's comprehensive management plan determined that the trail can best be developed and managed in smaller segments, given the trail's 3,000-mile scope and diverse resources. The segment planning approach helps the National Park Service effectively understand the local resources, opportunities, and partner capacities in each segment.
Planning along the Potomac River segment of the trail began in early 2013 and has engaged hundreds of stakeholders including trail partners, public land managers, private developers, conservation groups and many other affiliations interested in the history, health, prosperity and recreational enjoyment of the tidal Potomac River. Multiple focus group meetings, stakeholder workshops and individual interviews were held over the course of two years to learn what people are doing, what they would like to be doing, and what could be done to enhance trail visitor experiences. Information was also gathered on any planned actions that would help address the identified needs and opportunities.
The planning team included representatives from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the state of Maryland, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, the Potomac Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Conservancy.