Press Release

The ATC Submits Brief to Supreme Court

December 10, 2019

The ATC’s brief highlights the importance of preserving the Trail’s Cooperative Management System, which is essential for maintaining and conserving the Trail.

On December 9, 2019, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) submitted a brief to the Supreme Court providing its unique and historically based perspective on Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et al. v. United States Forest Service, an important case involving the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This brief highlights the importance of preserving the Cooperative Management System, which maintains and conserves the Trail. Confirmed by the National Trail System Act of 1968 (NTSA), this system is essential for protecting not only the Trail itself, but also the realm of surrounding lands, environments and hiking experiences that have characterized the A.T. for nearly a century.

In this case, the Court will determine whether the U.S. Forest Service — or any land management agency aside from the National Park Service — can issue Mineral Leasing Act permits for pipelines to cross the A.T. Regardless of the final ruling, the ATC urges the Court to make a decision that ensures the Cooperative Management System remains intact, and that pipelines and other infrastructure are permitted in a way that preserves the A.T. realm. The ATC’s primary concern is the protection and enhancement of the Trail.

The A.T. Cooperative Management System is comprised of individual governmental agencies, Trail Maintaining Clubs, communities along the Trail and the Conservancy itself all united by a common purpose: to use their areas of expertise to ensure that the A.T. is protected for future generations. It is imperative that all members of this system are able to work together to achieve this goal.

To read the full brief provided to the Supreme Court, click here.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Cowpasture decision in early 2020. We will continue to inform our members, volunteers and A.T. lovers worldwide whenever there are important updates.
To support our advocacy efforts to protect the Trail and its surrounding landscapes, we ask you to join the ATC as a member and consider making a donation. Your support makes us a strong voice for the Trail.

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is 2,193 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is 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. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Jordan Bowman
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 304.885.0794