Cooperatove Conservation Project

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Connecticut Maine Maryland Massachusetts New Hampshire New Jersey New York Pennsylvania Vermont Virginia West Virginia
Southeastern Region: Georgia North Carolina Tennessee

Project Summary: Eighty year-old public/private partnership manages the 2,175 mile-long Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.
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Volunteers and crew leaders of the Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew move stringers into place at Duell Hollow in New York. (Photo by Appalachian Trail Conservancy, John Wright)
Resource Challenge

The Appalachian Trail is a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia. It was conceived in 1921, completed in 1937, and designated as the first National Scenic Trail in 1968. It is the nation’s longest, most accessible National Park, passing through or near more than 100 communities along the eastern seaboard and serving nearly four million hikers a year. Its 2,175-mile stretch makes partnership and collaboration a necessity in the Trail’s management and upkeep. 

Following more than three decades of land protection by state and federal agencies and private land conservancies, the Appalachian Trail corridor now forms a slender greenway that connects more than 75 public land areas in 14 States. It is a haven for biological diversity, protecting more than 2,000 occurrences of rare plant and animal species.

Examples of Key Partners
Seven National Parks, eight National Forests, one National Wildlife Refuge, Tennessee Valley Authority, Smithsonian Institution, 60 state agencies and private partners, coordinated by the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).
Results and Accomplishments

In 1984, the USDI National Park Service (NPS) entered into an unprecedented agreement, delegating most responsibilities for management of NPS lands along the trail to the non-profit ATC. This cooperative agreement, which was renewed in November 2004, serves as the cornerstone of the decentralized, volunteer-based ATC Management System. The NPS and ATC have entered into similar agreements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the 14 states through which the Trail passes, and ATC’s 30 Trail-maintaining clubs.  


Through long-standing collaboration, the managing partners have successfully conserved the trail and its corridor, providing opportunities for millions of visitors to experience and enjoy the Appalachian Mountains. Recent accomplishments include:   

  • Some 5,000 volunteers in 30 clubs contribute 200,000 hours of labor each year to maintain, manage, and protect  the  Appalachian Trail
  • Agreements with more than 100 public and private management partners ensure consistent Trail management across many jurisdictions.  
  • A 12-year project inventoried more than 2,000 occurrences of threatened, endangered, and sensitive species.  
  • The Ridgerunner Program, staffed by volunteer hikers, educates  visitors about appropriate use of the Trail. 
  • A new volunteer-based conservation program helps monitor rare plant species, water quality, air quality,  forest social impacts to the Trail. 
  • Dozens of shelter renovations, footpath relocation and rehabilitation projects, footbridges, and other projects are completed every year. 






The private non-profit Appalachian Trail Conference coordinates maintenance of the 2,175-mile trail through the use of volunteers.

Project Contact
Dave Startzell
Executive Director
Appalachian Trail Conservancy

304-535-6331 x 116


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