Project Planning Reference Materials

Project planning begins at the inception of a project idea. If the scope of work is more robust that routine maintenance, partners should initiate communication on the concept.


Step One: Define the Project

Establish the goal of the project, short and long-term impacts, funding requirements, and determine if the project requires additional biological or archaeological review assessment.

Maintaining clubs should be in close communication for any projects that require earth disturbance outside of the treadway, and should be familiar with any special circumstances where close communication on routine maintenance would also be important. The guide below is for NPS Appalachian Trail Lands. State and municipal regulations also may apply. Consult your ATC regional office for assistance.

Project Planning Overview

APPA Review and Compliance Guidelines

Refer to Local Management Guidance

Project Review Flow Chart and Companion Document


Step Two: Partnership Sets the Path

In consultation with ATC and land management partners, larger projects are outlined with a description, justification and intended outcomes. Site visits, flagging sites, and funding plans dominate this stage, along with paperwork, and Regional Partnership Committee review.

APPA Project Proposal Form (2021)
Form A-2 Checklist for Overnight Facilities

Regional offices can consult on available funding sources for projects. There are project funds available through mini-grant programs through the L.L. Bean Grants to Clubs and A.T. License Plate Grant programs in several states.


Step Three: Project Implementation

With any necessary approvals in hand, carry out the project. Volunteer coordination and strong field leadership are important aspects for this segment.


Step Four: Report Accomplishments

Report the volunteer impact of the project by capturing individuals’ names, hours of work, and achievements. This helps all A.T. partners celebrate the success of your achievement. Work that alters Trail and Facility resources should be reported as part of Asset Inventory Updates.


Trail & Facilities Resources

In addition to the resources below, project coordinators should be familiar with standards and guidelines within their Local Management Plan, and refer to ATC’s Management Policies page for direction issued on Trail & Facilities topics of interest. Most recent additions include the Organized Group Use Policy (2015), Visitor Use Management Policy (2016), and Side & Connecting Trails Policy (2017),

General A.T. Resources
A.T. Design, Construction and Maintenance
A.T. Fieldbook: Maintenance and Rehabilitation Guidelines
Increasing Opportunities for Access on the Appalachian Trail: A Design Guide

A.T. Resources for Overnight Sites and Visitor Use
Backcountry Sanitation Manual (2nd Edition) (posted August 2014)
Organized Group Management Manual – First Edition (posted January 2016)
Camping Impact Management on the A.T.
Animal Deterrent Food Storage System Advisory

Other A.T. Resources
Trailhead Kiosks, 2012 Update to Trailhead Bulletin Board
Planning Guide – A.T. Community Kiosks

A.T. Resources for Sustainable Trail and Camping Management
Dr. Jeff Marion, Dr. Jeremy Wimpey, and Johanna Arredondo performed a 5-year study on sustainable trail & camping management on the A.T. The video of their presentation is offered as a self-paced online training here.

AT Final Report, Best Management Practices, Review Draft
Marion-Wimpey, Sustainable Trail Design, 2017
Aredondo et al., Modeling Areal Measures of Campsite Impacts, Under review
Eagleston-Marion, BWCA Sustainable Camping, 2017
Meadama et al., In Press, AT Trail Impacts and Sustainable Mgmt, JEM, 2019
Video: Sustainable Trail & Camping Management on the A.T.

Partner Guidance and Resources
USDA Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook
USFS Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails

Partner Guidance and Resources for Overnight Sites and Visitor Use
USFS Accessibility Guidelines (FSORAG) – Pit Toilets
USFS Region 8 Accessible Moldering Privy Design
USFS Region 8 Accessible Moldering Privy Materials List
USFS Region 9 Accessible Moldering Privy Design

Other Partner Resources
NPS Trail Bridge Inspection Guidance

Facility Inventory Update Process

ATC, NPS-APPA, and the Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs have undertaken a Trail-wide inventory to count every location and feature along the A.T. corridor. This information helps us prioritize limited funds and resources toward their continued preservation. Improving project development and cost estimation, tracking, and reporting will also make the Appalachian National Scenic Trail more competitive for federal funds.

To keep the information current, work completed by ATC and Trail club volunteers needs to be reported. While a database system is being developed, fillable PDF forms for each facility type are to be used in the interim and are posted below. (Word forms are available by contacting [email protected].)

The forms are to be used to report completed improvements and alterations, not for planning purposes. They should be used only to report on work accomplished with non-APPA funds. APPA funded projects will be captured through the Capital Plan and other task agreement reporting procedures.

Questions and comments should be directed to [email protected] or your ATC regional office.

NPS A.T. Facility Management – Compliance Update Presentation (03-02-17)

Inventory Update Process Cover Letter (Version 2.0)
Inventory Update Process Flow Chart
A.T. Bridge Update Form (Version 2.0)
A.T. Designated Campsite Update Form (Version 2.0)
A.T. Parking Area Update Form (Version 2.0)
A.T. Privy Update Form (Version 2.0)
A.T. Road Inventory Form (Version 2.0)
A.T. Scenic Vista Update Form (Version 1.5)
A.T. Shelter Inventory Update Form (Version 2.0)
A.T. Side Trail Update Form (Version 1.1)
A.T. Treadway Update Form (Version 1.1)