The Appalachian Trail boasts some impressive numbers: It’s more than 2,000 miles long and passes through 14 different states. More than 2 million people explore the trail every year. Of those, a few thousand will attempt to hike its entire length —and only one in four will succeed.
But here’s a more daunting statistic: Did you know that in some places, the trail’s protection from development extends only 200 feet? With your help, we’re changing that. Trust for Public Land’s Allie Ferguson has an update:
No matter how hard-fought the climb was, the view from the top is always worth it. Standing on a rocky outcrop on one of the Appalachian Trail’s magnificent vistas and surveying the vast wilderness below is one of the trail’s biggest rewards, humbling day- and thru-hiker alike.
Now imagine those views weren’t of endless forests and rivers—but of a chain of resorts and condos, casinos, or housing developments. Changes things a bit, doesn’t it?
It’s a common misconception that the land surrounding the Appalachian Trail has been permanently protected from development. While it’s true that the length of the trail is protected, in some cases that legal protection is only 200 feet wide, and, there are still plenty of private land holdings within the viewshed that threaten the sanctity of the AT experience.
Trust for Public Land has protected 250,000 acres of land surrounding the Appalachian Trail, and in its viewshed. At the end of 2014, we saved a 5,700-acre property called Orbeton Stream from development that will keep the view pristine forever while also protecting valuable Atlantic Salmon habitat. And in 2013, we protected 12,000 acres surrounding the trail and ten miles of the trail itself at Crocker Mountain—the single largest conservation purchase along the Appalachian Trail in at least the last 15 years.
Get the full story—including a roundup of our work in progress on the Appalachian Trail—from our friends at The Trek.