For over 30 years, RTC has helped shape the legal framework around rail-trails in an effort to protect and advance rail-trail development in the United States.


Legal Program


Since RTC’s founding, we have been the nation's foremost—and in most cases, only—legal advocate for rail-trails in the nonprofit sector.

Guided by RTC's Public Policy Litigation Policies and Procedures, our legal counsel works to identify, monitor and participate in cases or legal proceedings that potentially affect the policy framework for rail-trail conversions in the courts, in Congress, and in state legislatures and federal agencies.

RTC also assists trail managers, trail advocates and their legal counsel across the country—providing advice and support on legal issues concerning rail-trail acquisition, development and maintenance through training, technical assistance, workshops and the development of written materials on legal issues relating to rail-trail conversions.

Rails-to-Trails Conversions - A Legal Review Thumbnail

Rails-to-Trails Conversions: A Legal Review

Rail-trails are subject to a unique, and occasionally complex, mixture of federal and state law.

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RTC's litigation program calls on a network of pro bono lawyers who assist us in drafting legal briefs and presenting arguments to the courts.

RTC thanks the following law firms for having provided pro bono services in the recent past:

  • Charles Montange – Seattle, Washington
  • Jones Day – Cleveland, Ohio
  • Morrison & Foerster L.L.P. – San Diego, CA, and San Francisco, California
  • Nossaman, L.L.P. – Washington, D.C.
  • William Weems – Birmingham, Alabama
  • Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, L.L.P. – Washington, D.C.

RTC's legal program has participated in numerous landmark rail-trail cases, including the 1990 case, Preseault v. ICC—wherein the constitutionality of the federal Railbanking Law was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court—and more recently, Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States, which has called into question whether the federal government retains an interest in railroad rights-of-way created by the federal General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875—after cessation of railroad activity on the corridor.

RTC General Counsel Andrea Ferster

Andrea Ferster | Photo by Eli Griffen
Andrea Ferster | Photo by Eli Griffen

Andrea Ferster has served as RTC's general counsel since 1992. Ferster is one of the nation's foremost authorities on legal issues relating to rail-trails. She received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 1979 and her J.D. from The George Washington University National Law Center in 1984.

More Information

Contact us if you would like to learn more about our Legal Program or if you wish to be a part of RTC’s pro bono legal work.

Contact Andrea Ferster

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