Appalachian Trail Conservation Banner Brent McGuirt

A Strong Future

As guardians of the Appalachian Trail, our goal is to ensure it will be enjoyed for centuries to come.

Protection and Stewardship Icon

protection and stewardship

Our conservation work is focused on the protection and stewardship of land surrounding the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This land base, spanning the Appalachian highland region from Georgia to Maine, connects significant state and federal lands. Running primarily along the ridgelines, Trail lands protect a migratory flywayand headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds. This protected area is one of the most significant greenways in the eastern United States.

Our conservation work is focused on identifying high priority tracts for permanent protection, working collaboratively with numerous conservation partners. We advocate funding for land protection and for best management practices to effectively steward these lands in perpetuity. We also play an important role as land managers, assisting with the natural resource management of corridor lands to ensure that the integrity of protected A.T. lands is upheld for future generations to experience and enjoy. We strive to base management decisions on sound science, and we work cooperatively with partners to develop our conservation approach. 


We care about protecting the experience we all have while hiking the A.T. Along with our partners, we are charged under the National Trails Systems Act to ensure that the scenic vistas and natural and cultural heritage of the Trail corridor is protected forever.

Proposed AT&T Facility on Short Hill Mountain, VA

by Appalachian Trail Conservancy | May 18, 2016

UPDATE: June 14, 2016:

Amid intense pressure and scrutiny from Loudouners and from members of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, AT&T abandoned their application to build atop Short Hill Mountain.

Special thanks for all who raised their concerns about this project, including our partners the Blue Ridge Conservation Alliance.
For more information CLICK HERE.
May 18, 2016:  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is greatly concerned about the proposed AT&T communications facility in Short Hill, Virginia, a project that would threaten the scenic and cultural landscape of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in Loudoun County and the surrounding region.


The proposed 161,000-square-foot facility, which would replace the current underground communication station, is to be constructed at a height of 35 feet at the top of Short Hill Mountain, just two miles east of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. This new facility will produce a four-acre scar on the landscape and will be visible from the A.T. and the adjacent Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The structure will have night lighting that increases and exacerbates its visual impact, and will also affect the habitat of the Cerulean Warbler and other migratory birds. Additionally, significant noise pollution will be produced from the facility’s back-up generators, which will require frequent testing.

While AT&T has done an analysis of the potential visual impact of the facility from Harpers Ferry Road and Mountain Road, we are very disappointed it has not done a similar study for the adjacent Appalachian National Scenic Trail viewshed. As guardians of the A.T. and the surrounding landscape, the ATC encourages AT&T to conduct substantive and meaningful investigations to understand the visual, aural, and natural/cultural resource impacts on the Trail. The ATC also desires to be consulted early and often as plans are developed. The ATC will continue to gather research and data to better understand the proposed facility’s impact on the Appalachian Trail.

There are an estimated three million visitors on the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail each year, and the Trail section through western Loudoun County is increasingly popular. It is the ATC’s mission to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.


Click image to view full-size.

Take Action: 

1. Be informed about the proposal. Learn more about the proposed project here

2. Contact Supervisors and speak at the Board of Supervisors meeting this Thursday, May 19. Contact the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors at 703-777-0200 to sign up to speak. Click here for supervisor emails.

3. Attend the community meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 23, hosted by the project applicant, Parsons Environment & Infrastructure Group Inc., to discuss expansion of the facility at the Lovettsville Game Association building at 16 South Berlin Turnpike, in Lovettsville.

4. Notify friends and family and share on social media about this precedent-setting intrusion into rural Loudoun, with its irreplaceable scenic assets

5. Support ​our work so we can continue our role as guardians of the Appalachian Trail. 


  1. 18 Mary bunner 18 May
    Shocking that this project would even be considered for this site..its just wrong. 
  2. 17 Maria 19 May
    unacceptable for The Appalachian Trail to be affected like this. Vote against!
  3. 16 Debra Beaver 19 May
    Please do NOT build this facility within view of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
  4. 15 Barry Stevens 19 May
    So many companies state that they care about the environment and nature but I rarely see actions to back up the words. This would be so sad for this facility to take away from the beauty of the AT. 
  5. 14 Jennifrr 19 May
    please contact me with any appalachian trail updates
  6. 13 Linus bicker 19 May
    Im a republican and even I believe that surely this facility can be built somewhere else. Let's not disturb the natural beauty of a place that exists as a national treasure because of its natural beauty. 
  7. 12 Kelly Saunders 19 May
    As a nature lover and hiking enthusiast, I am highly disappointed in your proposal.  The Appalachian Trail is a landmark and tourist destination.  If you destroy the view, you are taking apart of it's charm.  There are plenty of other places, such as an already deserted facility, that you could build your new communications facility.  Thank you for taking the time to read my comment.
  8. 11 Informed Person 20 May
    This project is for national security. It is a underground facility with communications for federal agencies that are secure in nature. Back off.
  9. 10 Christopher Wilson 21 May
    The building of the facility would distort one of the nation's most epic nature trails, and naturealize itself in the area.
  10. 9 JT Stokes 22 May
    Why is this even being considered? Keep our land rural. 
  11. 8 arthur newcomb iii 22 May
    The historic Appalachian Trail must be preserved in it's entirety so that future generations may enjoy the serenity of nature. Both wildlife and humans suffer when we detroy our natural surroundings. 
  12. 7 Dawn Shilling 24 May
    This sounds completely unnecessary to me to build this ginormous facility in a beautiful scenic natural landscape. This will not only destroy the beauty visually but much of the wildlife inhabiting the area.
  13. 6 Karlen Keto 24 May
    Keep Short Hill as it is.  No huge facility is needed or wanted there!
  14. 5 Haley 24 May
    cimpanie need to do their due diligence to ensure that our historical heritage is not impacted, as well as local economy. Maybe another location could be investigated and entities involved could work together for a solution. Hopefully an agreeable solution will be met that does not impact the AT!!
  15. 4 Matthew Berry 25 May
    Not sure who this goes to, but can't AT&T just build where buildings already exist and not go out of their way to ruin the landscape? AT&T deserves to lose customers if they continue this irresponsible decision.
  16. 3 Brenda Jenkins 27 May
    This is my first awareness of this proposal.  I will stay in touch by reading and following these updates.  I'm totally against this type of data center in our western area due to all the reasons above.  So, I will support in any manner.
  17. 2 Judith Lovegrove 03 Jun
    Be sure to go to the June 23, 2016, Board of Supervisors meeting and oppose this building!! That is the night the BOS will make the decision to approve or deny the AT&T application, which has already been rushed through and approved by the planning commission.
  18. 1 steven hernandez 20 Mar
    Until when will we stop destroying the sacred little bit of nature we have left, I'm sure the CEO's and elected officials can build at an alternative location away from parks and natural habitats.


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​land protection

Protecting land along the A.T. has been a priority for Trail managers ever since the Trail was established. We have worked with state and federal agencies since 1982 to protect the lands surrounding the A.T., resulting in one of the most significant and successful land acquisition programs in the United States. Today there is a 250,000 acre greenway around the Trail that connects significant public lands in the eastern United States.

Boundary Corridor Lands by Brent McQuirt Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Boundary and Corridor Lands

Our Boundary Program protects the public's investment in the lands that surround the A.T. Volunteers from A.T. Maintaining Clubs work with us to monitor and maintain more than 1,500 miles of the Trail corridor's exterior boundary.

Natural and Cultural Resource Management Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Natural and Cultural Resource Management

The A.T. is about more than hiking. Trail lands protect headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds and also host hundreds of rare species. We work cooperatively with our partners to understand and monitor these resources.

trail management

Trail management encompasses the on–the-ground stewardship performed by volunteers and agency partners to maintain the Trail, its structures, and its natural and cultural resources. Management includes keeping the footpath clear of natural overgrowth and blowdowns; building and relocating sections of the footpath; building and repairing shelters and other structures; and caring for overnight sites. We coordinate this work, provide training, help set policy parameters, supply funding and other assistance to 31 Trail maintaining clubs, and recruit and manage volunteer Trail crews.

Appalachian Trail Crew Flexing Muscles

​Trail Crews

Our Trail Crews tackle large-scale projects like relocations and rehabilitation as well as bridge and shelter construction. The work is hard, but it's a great way to give back to the Trail that changed your life.

RidgeRunners and Caretakers by Laurie Potteiger

​Ridgerunners & Caretakers

More than 30 ridgerunners and caretakers help us promote a quality A.T. experience by educating hikers on how to minimize impact on the Trail.

Trail Management Policies AT Boundary Marker by Vincent Juarez

​Trail Management Policies

If you're an A.T. manager, here are links to Trail policies, planning guidance, and other volunteer management resources.

AT Community Program Logo

the appalachian trail community program

The Appalachian Trail Community™ program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).  Towns, counties, and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by all that use the A.T. and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. The program serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T.

Youth and Community Engagement Appalachian Trail Conservancy

​​youth engagement

The Trail to Every Classroom (TTEC) program is a professional development program for K-12 teachers that provides educators with the tools and training for place-based education and service-learning on the A.T. Launched in 2006 in partnership with the National Park Service, the program offers educators the resources needed to engage their students in their local community, all while growing academically and professionally.

The program was developed to:

  • Engage youth in volunteer activities
  • Encourage a love of learning
  • Promote healthy lifestyles
  • Create a conservation ethic 
  • Form a respect for the A.T.