A Route 66 emblem in Adrian, Texas.

photo by: Thomas Hawk/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

July 18, 2018

Preserving Route 66 as a National Historic Trail

During summer 2018 the National Trust for Historic Preservation, together with the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership and other Route 66 organizations, is conducting a major marketing campaign to support the permanent federal designation of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail (NHT).

Since the designation was established in 1978, 19 NHTs have been designated, ranging in length from the 54-mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail to the 5,665-mile California National Historic Trail. To qualify as NHTs, trails must meet three criteria under the National Trails System Act (NTSA). They must be travel routes that (1) were originally established by historic use; (2) have been determined to be of national significance because of that use; and (3) have significant potential for public recreational use or historic interest. Congress designates NHTs through amendments to the NTSA.

In addition to recognition, becoming an NHT provides trails with permanent federal designation as part of an established program. The designation authorizes the trail administration to “enter into cooperative agreements with States and political subdivisions, landowners, organizations, and individuals to operate, develop and maintain any portion of the trail.” It also allows partners to obtain technical and financial assistance from the National Park Service (NPS)—subject to the availability of funding—for preservation, interpretation, signage, promotion, research, and other efforts related to eligible historic resources.

To read the rest of this story, head to Preservation Leadership Forum, the network of preservation professionals brought together by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

By: Morgan Vickers

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