Appalachian Trail Landscape Conservation Initiative
A few years ago it was my pleasure to serve on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's (ATC's) Stewardship Council.
The A.T. is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world. It was completed in 1937, and has been a National Park since 1968. The trail runs roughly 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine, through public and private lands with a wide range of land uses and management goals. You can't draw a line that long anywhere in the U.S. without having hundreds of highways, pipelines, power lines, rail lines, you-name-it crossing the line. And yet, people take pilgrimages to follow these white blazes on a quest for a deeply moving wilderness experience.
The ATC and the A.T. office of the National Park Service work everyday to preserve that experience for people spending a day walking in the woods or six months living in nature.
The footpath of the A.T. (and it's immediate surroundings) is protected by law and maintained by people like you - but the landscape around the trail is vulnerable to many threats. The landscape around the trail is as much a part of the experience of hiking the trail as the footpath itself... you can hear beyond the footpath, you can smell beyond the footpath, and you can certainly see beyond the footpath - it's the main reason you'd climb to the top of the next peak, right!
To address these external threats, the ATC and A.T. National Park Office launched the "Appalachian Trail Landscape Conservation Initiative". This is a collaborative effort to bring together willing and interested public and private land managers, local communities, landowners, and a wide range of partners to promote and conserve ecological, cultural, historic, and economic values across a large landscape centered on the A.T.
The success of this initiative hinges on scaling up the personal passion derived from the awe-inspiring experience of hiking this iconic wilderness and converting it into a commitment to set some tracts of lands aside... to say that we don't need to use it all, we can let some of it just be.
If you know someone that has the money or land or influence to assist A.T. managers in their quest to preserve the surroundings of the A.T., please contact Dennis Shaffer, Director of Landscape Conservation, ATC, (802) 552-4738.