Friday, April 02, 2010

The Appalachian Trail Faces Challenges


At 2178 miles in length, the Appalachian Trail is one of the longest and best known trails in the world. In fact, it has served as the basis for many other long distance hiking trails around the globe, and for backpackers, it is often considered one of the crown jewels of trekking. But a few days back, the National Parks Conservation Association released a report that examined some of the unique challenges and opportunities that the AT has in front of it if it is to remain the unique resource that it is.

Entitled Appalachian National Scenic Trail: A Special Report, the document takes a look at the cultural and natural resources that line the trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, and attracts thousands of hikers each year. Amongst the biggest challenges for the AT are over development of the lands adjacent to the trail, air quality and pollution concerns, and a lack of adequate funding to protect and further develop trail resources and historic sites along the route.

To help further identify and spotlight some of the locations of interest along the trail the NPCA has posted this handy map that gives more insight into exactly what portions of the trail are at risk. Some of the development that is sited in the report include the building of power lines, pipelines, and even racetracks next to the trail, all of which take away from the scenic beauty and disrupt the natural environments there.

But the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Appalachian Trail Park Office are not standing still on these issues. Those two groups are working hard to protect and monitor the AT, as well as to educate the public about their concerns. The Appalachian Trail is one of the great outdoor resources in the U.S., and it is important that we protect it now, before it becomes too late. It is an amazing hike, and future generations of backpackers should be given the opportunity to enjoy it too.

To read the report in PDF format click here.