ATLANTA – The National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) selected 12 new communities and partnerships in the southeast to receive technical and planning assistance. The assistance provided will promote the development of new outdoor recreation, economic opportunities, and natural resource conservation.

RTCA works with community groups, nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, and local, state, and federal government agencies to achieve locally-defined goals for natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation. RTCA also connects citizens with local agencies and organizations to create new parks, greenspace, and trails and protect important water resources.

“RTCA has been an invaluable resource for our planning team, assisting us in positive and creative ways, and helping us build the foundation of a multi-sector project with the potential to aid in the recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Maria,” said Soledad Gaztambide-Arandes, Environmental Policy and Government Relations Coordinator for Para la Naturaleza.   

RTCA projects include outdoor preservation, rivers conservation, and the development of recreational trails and greenways. The RTCA network of planning professionals, landscape architects and community planners helps communities across the nation achieve on-the ground successes. RTCA helps local partners to make their rivers, trails, greenways and open spaces vital, life-enhancing parts of their communities.

“What they did for us was phenomenal,” said Tana Trichel, President and CEO of the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance. “We saw the opportunity to help our community in a way that would be long-lasting. Even though it did not address flooding, it addressed critical issues in our region.” 

Over the course of the past two years, RTCA helped communities throughout Louisiana with recovery efforts from the 2016 flooding event that affected over 58 parishes. The RTCA program serves communities and neighborhoods throughout the southeast with offices in Atlanta, GA; Sarasota, FL; Mammoth Cave, KY; Ocean Springs, MS; and Chattanooga, TN. 


For more information about the RTCA program, please visit



The 12 new projects for Fiscal Year 2019 accepted by the RTCA Program are:


Mobile County Blueways: Mobile County seeks to link various blueway programs and create a network of paddling trails that will promote greater awareness towards the conservation and protection of coastal ecosystem resources and showcase the regional and statewide significance of Alabama’s coastal waters. The project goal is to develop a Mobile County Blueway Master Plan that will integrate various blueway programs around the waterways of coastal Alabama, while working collaboratively with the Mobile County Commission.

City of Fairhope Master Plan Concepts: The City of Fairhope intends to develop a pedestrian master plan to connect the various trails, sidewalks, bike lanes and parks, to provide a citywide system of connectivity. Furthermore, the City of Fairhope aims to showcase what a potential expansion of the cities outdoor recreation infrastructure and lands to create a more accessible city. The City would like to address the gaps within the trail, bike paths and sidewalk systems in order to provide access for all citizens, increase economic impact, conserve and promote the existing resources and create safer outdoor recreation opportunities. The project goal is to provide better access for citizens and visitors of the City of Fairhope to enjoy expanded recreational opportunities and park facilities. 

Groundwork Mobile (GW-MOBI):  In collaboration with Groundwork USA and the National Park Service, a full feasibility study was commissioned to assess the need for a Groundwork Trust in Mobile County, Alabama. Over the past 9 months, the initial Steering Committee recognized that Groundwork Mobile County can fill a unique niche in addressing needs in Mobile County and in August 2018 completed the feasibility study.  By December 2018, it will be determined whether Mobile County would be granted Groundwork Trust status.  Once Groundwork Mobile County is confirmed then community members and local government officials will move forward with Groundwork projects that include reducing and revitalizing vacant lots throughout neighborhoods, providing healthy and safe recreational opportunities, and engaging youth in meaningful experiences that prepare them for a successful future working in communities throughout Mobile County.


Atlantic Beach Parks Master Plan: The City of Atlantic Beach along with its partners will develop a plan to enhance the green spaces currently under city ownership and identify other opportunities to preserve and protect areas for recreation and conservation. By creating a Parks Master Plan, the City will identify the projects to be implemented over the next 5-10 years that will help achieve this goal. In addition, the planning effort will include identifying greenways linking the City’s natural parks and preserves, schools, community and cultural centers as well as historical assets.  


Smith-Wilson Memorial Park Master Plan: The City of Bastrop’s interests are to develop the newly renamed Smith-Wilson Memorial Park located in Bastrop, Louisiana through an innovative master plan that provides recreational and cultural opportunities/activities for a diverse population with a special emphasis on serving retirement aged seniors and above. The project goal is to create a comprehensive community driven visioning plan for the re-design of Smith-Wilson Park for a diverse population with a special focus on the senior citizens of the community to offer healthy life style choices and cultural activities that will showcase the unique area. 

Sankofa Wetland Park & Nature Trail Master Plan: The Sankofa Nature Trail and Wetland Park is a green infrastructure project that will transform 40 acres of a deteriorated natural area in the Lower Ninth Ward into an educational assimilated wetland park. The project highlights the role of wetlands in absorbing stormwater and reducing land subsidence and it will support the health of the neighborhood’s natural environment through community-led service learning projects. The project goal is to develop a community driven development plan for the Wetland Park and an adjacent walking and bike trail.

Acadiana Nature Station Strategic Plan: Located in a wooded section of Acadiana Park, a 150 acre property, the Nature Station and its accompanying 6 mile trail system consists of a small museum on natural history of the area, a classroom for visiting school groups, and a canoe launch open to the public. In recent years, the station has been less of a draw in the area. The local park staff believes this is due to the degrading infrastructure and worn design and therefore is looking to give the Nature Station a makeover. The project goal is to create a full and robust ten year and beyond plan for development, collaboration, and expansion of the Nature Station building and trails systems. The plan will include guidance on expanding the Nature Station Museum; creating community collaborations and marketing strategies that could increase recreational/ecological programming; streamlining ways to increase funding while also leveraging current funding levels to their maximum capacity;  demystifying access to the northern trail system; creating community momentum and support.

South Carolina:

Charleston Paddle Share Program:  Many waterways in the Charleston area are used for recreation as well as transportation but there is no coordinated effort to produce and market access to blueways in the same manner as a bike-share program.  South Carolina National Heritage Corridor envisions a plan that will guide the initial development of the first kayak-share facilities and establish the vision for a full system.  This project will serve as a prototype for additional kayak-share facilities around the region.  Within 10 years, we expect the alternative transportation system to be a national example of connectivity and mobility. The project goal is to create a strategic plan for a county-wide kayak-share program in Charleston County that can serve as a prototype for the Lowcountry Region. The plan will include strategic location, identification of funding sources and project sustainability.

Catawba Indian Nation Recreational Master Plan: The Catawba Indian Nation envisions a master recreational plan that presents the opportunity for family-oriented activities, healthy lifestyles, cultural pride and community involvement that will teach and encourage the preservation and conservation of nature. The project goal is to assist citizens of the Indian Nation in defining existing and future recreation needs as well as establish were those needs can be fulfilled while preserving the existing environment.

Ashley River Recreation and Conservation Master Plan: The Ashley River Recreation and Conservation Master Plan will capitalize on current momentum generated by various projects and entities by developing a coordinated plan for maximizing and balancing recreation and conservation opportunities in the basin. The goal of this project is to provide a higher quality water recreation resource for both residents and visitors through better planning, management, marketing, and stewardship through a participatory process that will result in a roadmap to reach this overarching goal.


Sequatchie River Water Trail: The Southeast Tennessee Development District in collaboration with Bledsoe, Sequatchie and Marion counties are working to introduce a water trail on the Sequatchie River that will span approximately 70 miles through the picturesque Sequatchie Valley before joining the Tennessee River near the Tennessee & Alabama border. The project goals are to review inventory and mapping of canoe and kayak access points and identify current access development and improvement needs, including mapping, signage and marketing. Several dangerous low-head dams on the river that pose a serious safety hazard to swimmers and paddlers will have special emphasis to determine best course of action.

Northeast Tennessee Outdoor Recreation Plan: The Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership is leading a plan to develop, improve and promote the area’s outdoor recreation assets and enhance the region’s economic viability.  Project goals include reaching throughout the Northeast Tennessee region to seek citizen and stakeholder involvement, initiating demonstration outdoor recreation pilot projects, and developing an Outdoor Development Master Plan for implementing new opportunities.