Appalachian Trail Preservation
America’s most famous hiking trail is suffering from being a bit too popular these days. How to preserve the Appalachian Trail? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Marion: There was an area called Annapolis Rocks up in Maryland. And it was voted by trail maintainer clubs as one of the two worst camping locations on the entire Appalachian Trail.
Research biologist Jeff Marion works with the US Geological Survey and National Park Service to find ways to improve conditions on the Appalachian Trail.
Marion: We went in and did some studies where we identified all of the campsites in that area. We measured how large they were and how much bare soil there was, and the damaged trees and so on and so forth. And we then worked with both the club and the local land managers to identify a preferred course of action. And that course of action involve closing all of the existing campsites, because they were in very large flat areas where they they just continue to expand over time. And we moved all of that camping activity a very short distance away to some sloping terrain, and carved out small campsites that could accommodate two or three tents and a few people camping. But all around these flat campsites was sloping terrain. The people who would then use those campsites would tend to all put up their tents in the exact same places and camp and cooked dinners in the same places. And so these new campsites stayed substantially smaller than their older counterparts, which we then closed and worked to restore.
We had more than a 50% reduction in the total area of camping impact, and a tremendous reduction in the number of damaged trees and exposed soil and other kinds of camping impacts.
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