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Stewardship

Our stewardship efforts include educating and supporting A.T. users to adopt hiking and camping techniques that minimize damage to the natural environment. We promote Leave No Trace principles and deploy ridgerunners and caretakers along high-use sections of the Trail to help hikers and other visitors understand those principles and avoid unnecessary resource damage.

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. It 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 clubs, and recruit and manage volunteer Trail Crews.

To help ensure consistent management practices along the roughly 2,190 miles of the Trail, we provide a number of resources for volunteer leaders, agencies and others, including a library of A.T. management policies and other reference materials.

Toolkit for Trail Crews


 

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The Appalachian Trail Crews

The six volunteer Trail Crews tackle large-scale projects such as Trail relocations and rehabilitation and bridge and shelter construction. The crews are active from May through October each year, working on projects from Maine to Georgia. Trail Crew projects—which last for a week or more—are planned and completed in cooperation with A.T. maintaining clubs and agency partners such as the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. Applications for these crews may be submitted using the links below.

Volunteers of 31 designated A.T.-maintaining clubs do most of the day-to-day work on the Appalachian Trail. More about the Trail clubs and their volunteer opportunities can be found on their websites, using the links found here.

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Boundary and Corridor Lands

The A.T. Boundary Program protects the public’s investment in the lands that surround the Trail. To ensure the continued protection of the Trail corridor, volunteers from A.T. maintaining clubs work with the ATC to monitor and maintain more than 1,500 miles of the corridor’s exterior boundary from Tennessee to Maine.

To monitor, volunteers walk the tracts and boundary lines of lands acquired for the Trail and assess them to ensure their continued conservation. To maintain, volunteers repaint blazes and brush out the line, keeping it well marked and easy for our neighbors to identify.

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Natural & Cultural Resource Management

The 250,000-acre corridor of the A.T. and its surrounding landscape are rich in natural and cultural resources.

Running primarily along the Appalachian highlands, Trail lands protect headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds. These high elevation lands also provide critical habitat for plants, animals and fungi, including hundreds of rare species. The A.T. is well suited for large scale climatological studies and provides a habitat corridor through otherwise disconnected conservation lands Roughly one-third of the U.S. population lives in close proximity to A.T. In many respects, threats to the health of A.T. lands also represent environmental challenges to everyone downwind and downstream of the A.T. This makes the Trail and its protected corridor an ideal indicator for environmental conditions that directly affect more than 120 million Americans.

   

In 2009, the National Park Service completed the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Natural Resource Management Plan which describes the important resources of the Trail and suggests management actions. The ATC, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as other agencies and organizations, work cooperatively to understand the status of these resources and to engage volunteers, or citizen scientists, in monitoring natural resources. Monitoring projects are aimed at assisting cooperative management partners in the development of effective adaptive management strategies, ensuring the long-term health of significant resources.


 

Current Monitoring Efforts

The following monitoring projects offer opportunities to engage with scientific partners at the National Park Service and other organizations. Monitoring protocols have been developed by these partners to ensure scientific standards are met.

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Monitoring

Rare Species

Learn about threatened species that the A.T. supports and the best management practices for protecting them.

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Monitoring

Invasive Species

Track the spread of problematic plant species and work collaboratively to eliminate targeted populations of invasive species.

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Monitoring

American Chestnut

Help partners at the American Chestnut Foundation understand restoration of this once important species of Appalachian forests.

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Monitoring

Phenology

Help monitor seasonal changes of plants and animals in an effort to understand the potential impacts of changing climates along the A.T.

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