Broadening the Scope of A.T. Protection
…A realm and not merely a trail marks the full aim of our efforts.
Benton MacKaye, the Appalachian Trail’s visionary
The Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service co-convene the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership, or ATLP, which includes top conservationists who are committed to a bold vision of greater A.T. conservation in the face of 21st-century threats. The mission of the ATLP is to connect the wild, scenic and cultural wonders of the Appalachian Trail and its surrounding landscape. All entities working on land conservation along and aside the Appalachian Trail are invited to participate in ATLP efforts. Currently, more than 70 partners are involved.
Now in its sixth year, the ATLP meets annually, with the latest gathering held in December 2019 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. A Steering Committee guides the work of the overall ATLP. The Steering Committee is a regularly convened group of partners that represents the diversity of the ATLP.
The Appalachian Trail Landscape
The Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership has the vision of an Appalachian Trail and surrounding landscape that connect people, communities and nature, forever safeguarding the backbone and heart of the Wild East. This vision is reminiscent of Benton MacKaye’s 1921 proposal of an Appalachian Trail that would offer opportunities for recreation, recuperation and employment. Today, the A.T. is more than just an isolated footpath in the woods. It connects rural communities and working farms and forests; squeezes through rapidly developing regions; and provides the foundation for world-class outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities. We see MacKaye’s vision in action, but it is not fully realized.
Although the A.T. is protected under federal law, the wild, scenic and culturally significant landscapes that define the uniqueness of the Appalachian Mountain Range are vulnerable to an expanding human footprint. The next phase of A.T. land conservation is focused on broadening the scope of the Trail’s protection.
The Impact of the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership
Building a network of conservationists dedicated to greater A.T. protection
- Rallying partners around the vision of an A.T. and surrounding landscape that connect people, communities and nature, forever safeguarding the backbone and heart of the Wild East.
- Facilitating regional conservation partnerships that combat the effects of climate change, encroachments and incompatible development within the A.T. landscape.
- Participating in a pilot peer learning exchange program, hosted by the International Land Conservation Network, to advance relevant and effective strategies on an international scale.
Conserving lands adjacent to or near the A.T.
- Optimizing expertise to strategically evaluate land acquisition opportunities in the face of 21st-century threats.
- Supporting purchases of land parcels in the Trail region, therefore expanding the protected land base.
- Utilizing the Wild East Action Fund to support high-priority land conservation projects.
- Activating local land conservation efforts through regional conservation partnerships.
- Supporting designated A.T. Communities to accelerate the pace of A.T. land conservation.
Adding capacity to conservation organizations in the A.T. landscape
- Providing additional resources and guidance to all network partners to increase collective impact.
- Enabling partners to increase their on-the-ground impact through the Wild East Action Fund.
Advancing science-based conservation
- Identifying areas of greatest biological diversity and resiliency within the A.T. landscape.
- Utilizing available data to accelerate the pace of targeted land protection efforts.
- Ensuring the A.T. landscape remains an ecological corridor amid a changing climate.
Influencing policy that would protect the A.T. landscape
- Expanding the Appalachian Trail House Caucus in the United States Legislature.
- Teaching legislators about large-landscape conservation work through regular briefings on key legislation like the Clean Water Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Restore our Parks Act.
- Engaging strategically with the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Coalition advances full and dedicated funding for LWCF.
- Supporting the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature, which would establish a national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of land and ocean within the United States by 2030.
Inspiring millions to protect and steward the A.T. landscape
- Educating all A.T. users—including day, section, and thru-hikers—about the need for greater Trail protection through landscape conservation.
- Creating dynamic conversations within the conservation community that drive collective action across boundaries and borders.
- Inviting Appalachian Trail Communities to participate in a new era of A.T. conservation through education and outreach.
Regional Conservation Partnerships
Heart of Maryland Conservation Alliance
The Heart of Maryland Conservation Alliance has emerged to conserve the region’s history, forests, farmland, mountains, streams and quality of life in the face of escalating development pressure. The Catoctin and South Mountain ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Maryland form an evocative landscape that includes the Appalachian Trail landscape corridor.
South Mountain Partnership
The South Mountain Partnership is a regional, landscape-scale conservation project in south-central Pennsylvania. This Partnership emerged in 2006 to guide efforts within the South Mountain Conservation Landscape, one of seven Conservation Landscapes that the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has identified throughout the state.
New York to Maine
Northern Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership
Formed in early 2017, the Northern A.T. Landscape Partnership works to catalyze landscape conservation from New York to Maine and has the goal of protecting 1.4 million acres within the HUC-10 watershed boundary. Of those 1.4 million acres, 131,000 are within 1 mile of the Appalachian Trail.