Appalachian Trail Conservation Banner Brent McGuirt

A Strong Future

As guardians of the Appalachian Trail, our goal is to ensure it will be enjoyed for centuries to come.

Protection and Stewardship Icon

protection and stewardship

Our conservation work is focused on the protection and stewardship of land surrounding the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This land base, spanning the Appalachian highland region from Georgia to Maine, connects significant state and federal lands. Running primarily along the ridgelines, Trail lands protect a migratory flywayand headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds. This protected area is one of the most significant greenways in the eastern United States.

Our conservation work is focused on identifying high priority tracts for permanent protection, working collaboratively with numerous conservation partners. We advocate funding for land protection and for best management practices to effectively steward these lands in perpetuity. We also play an important role as land managers, assisting with the natural resource management of corridor lands to ensure that the integrity of protected A.T. lands is upheld for future generations to experience and enjoy. We strive to base management decisions on sound science, and we work cooperatively with partners to develop our conservation approach. 


We care about protecting the experience we all have while hiking the A.T. Along with our partners, we are charged under the National Trails Systems Act to ensure that the scenic vistas and natural and cultural heritage of the Trail corridor is protected forever.

Tell Congress to Restore Our Parks

by Daniel Bruffey | Jun 24, 2019
<h2 style="text-align: left;"><strong>Our National Park infrastructure is failing.</strong></h2> <p style="text-align: left;">Our nation&rsquo;s public lands are showing too much wear and tear. Due to lack of funding and support from our government, much of the infrastructure in our public lands has fallen into disrepair while the National Park Service (NPS) and other agencies wait for the funding needed to fix these problems. This backlog of repairs is commonly referred to as <strong>&ldquo;deferred maintenance.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The current deferred maintenance of America&rsquo;s public lands is over $20 billion. About $20 million of that is the Appalachian Trail&rsquo;s deferred maintenance, which covers everything from the footpath itself to the shelters, bridges and other structures that are vital for the safety of A.T. visitors and the preservation of the surrounding environments.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">These are not cyclical, or regular repairs, like replacing a broken window. These are repairs that go to our ability to access and enjoy our National Parks. NPS alone is responsible for protecting and managing over 75,000 &ldquo;assets&rdquo; in our National Parks &mdash; roads, bridges, visitor centers and, of course, trails &mdash; and 41,000 of these assets have deferred maintenance needs. <strong>That&rsquo;s over half of the assets in our National Parks.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> As you know, the A.T. doesn&rsquo;t just take care of itself: a network of over 6,000 volunteers, as well as the A.T.&rsquo;s 31 Maintaining Clubs and the staff of the ATC, work tirelessly to make sure that the A.T. is safe and that the Wild East continues to inspire people around the world. But the grit and talent of our volunteers aren&rsquo;t enough to get the A.T. all the resources it needs. It&rsquo;s up to people like you to make sure that Washington hears how important it is to increase funding for deferred maintenance needs. </p> <h2 style="text-align: left;">There are two bills in Congress that could greatly increase funding for deferred maintenance.</h2> <p style="text-align: left;">The Senate and the House of Representatives are both currently weighing two related bills designed to greatly increase the funding for deferred maintenance in National Parks.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The Senate bill (<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">S. 500</a>), also known as the &ldquo;Restore Our Parks Act&rdquo; or &ldquo;ROPA,&rdquo; dedicates up to $6.5 billion to NPS deferred maintenance over five years. ROPA would reallocate funds from onshore gas and coal production and offshore oil production &mdash; <strong>not taxpayer dollars</strong> &mdash; to repair the facilities, roads, shelters and Trails in National Parks.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The House bill (<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">H.R. 1225</a>), also known as the &ldquo;Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act,&rdquo; is similar to the Senate bill in that it allocates $6.5 billion for deferred maintenance needs. The primary difference is that this funding would be divided among several Federal agencies: 80% to NPS, 10% to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5% to Bureau of Land Management recreation, and 5% to Bureau of Indian Education facilities.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Neither of these bills would divert funding from programs such as the Land &amp; Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), creating a separate fund specifically focused on deferred maintenance needs.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The Appalachian Trail Conservancy currently supports both of these bills, as they would greatly increase our ability to maintain and preserve locations like the A.T. Additionally, we are working with Congressional offices to make sure that the deferred maintenance needs of the U.S. Forest Service &mdash; approximately $5 billion &mdash; are not forgotten, as 40% of the A.T. is located on Forest Service lands.</p> <h2 style="text-align: left;"><strong>Your voice can make a difference.</strong></h2> <p style="text-align: left;">By contacting your Senator and Representatives and asking them to cosponsor these bills, you are standing up for the Appalachian Trail and all of the other public lands that help millions each year experience America&rsquo;s Great Outdoors. Together, we can help ensure that the A.T. and our National Parks are protected for centuries to come.</p> <p style="text-align:center;"><a class="buttonBlackHP" href="" style="font-size:24px;">TAKE ACTION NOW</a></p>

land protection

Protecting land along the A.T. has been a priority for Trail managers ever since the Trail was established. We have worked with state and federal agencies since 1982 to protect the lands surrounding the A.T., resulting in one of the most significant and successful land acquisition programs in the United States. Today there is a 250,000 acre greenway around the Trail that connects significant public lands in the eastern United States.

Boundary Corridor Lands by Brent McQuirt Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Boundary and Corridor Lands

Our Boundary Program protects the public's investment in the lands that surround the A.T. Volunteers from A.T. Maintaining Clubs work with us to monitor and maintain more than 1,500 miles of the Trail corridor's exterior boundary.

Natural and Cultural Resource Management Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Natural and Cultural Resource Management

The A.T. is about more than hiking. Trail lands protect headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds and also host hundreds of rare species. We work cooperatively with our partners to understand and monitor these resources.

trail management

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. Management 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 maintaining clubs, and recruit and manage volunteer Trail crews.

Appalachian Trail Crew Flexing Muscles

​Trail Crews

Our Trail Crews tackle large-scale projects like relocations and rehabilitation as well as bridge and shelter construction. The work is hard, but it's a great way to give back to the Trail that changed your life.

RidgeRunners and Caretakers by Laurie Potteiger

​Ridgerunners & Caretakers

More than 30 ridgerunners and caretakers help us promote a quality A.T. experience by educating hikers on how to minimize impact on the Trail.

Trail Management Policies AT Boundary Marker by Vincent Juarez

​Trail Management Policies

If you're an A.T. manager, here are links to Trail policies, planning guidance, and other volunteer management resources.

AT Community Program Logo

the appalachian trail community program

The Appalachian Trail Community™ program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).  Towns, counties, and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by all that use the A.T. and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. The program serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T.

Youth and Community Engagement Appalachian Trail Conservancy

youth engagement

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision is to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy. In order to realize that vision, we strive to incorporate groups that are underrepresented among ATC staff, A.T. visitors, and ATC constituents. We hope to create an ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers, and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.