View Full Version : Answering questions asked at the Gathering

Old Hillwalker
10-13-2007, 15:15
After the funny little map sketch incident at the ALDHA general session, and the attempted followup by Hawk Metheny, I was later asked by several people about AT Corridor monitoring . I have decided to offer my understanding of the how and why of AT Corridor monitoring. Please understand that although I have been a trail adopter since 1983, my corridor monitoring stint has been pretty short in comparison. So, here goes.

Here is my understanding of the history and importance of monitoring the AT corridor. In the late 70s, the US Congress authorized the National Park Service to acquire a corridor of land within which the Appalachian National Scenic Trail would be protected. The corridor ranges from around a thousand feet wide to, in some instances a couple of miles. The land was purchased fee simple from many abutting landowners, taken by eminent domain from a few, and sometimes only easements were able to be purchased. Once the acquisition was completed, (actually it is somewhat on going) contracts were let to have the boundary surveyed and marked. The surveyors cleared and ax blazed the boundary on either side of the corridor and placed numbered aluminum AT monuments at each change of direction and approximately every 500 feet or so. The blazing was painted in yellow. Much of this surveying was performed in the early 80s. Today, after 20 years or so the yellow paint has faded to obscurity and the boundary "sight line" has grown up with trees. Cost for the land acquisition: Around
$180,000,000. Survey cost: Around $8,000,000. In areas where the trail passes through public lands i.e. the National Forest, no such surveyed boundary usually exists.

From the very day the Appalachian National Scenic Trail was created there have been threats to its existence. The most frequent of these threats has been from abutting landowners. Cutting trees, dumping trash, expanding their property into the “unused” land by building driveways, abandoning vehicles, and just being unaware that they were abusing National Parklands.

Not a few of these landowners were unaware that what they were doing was in violation of Federal laws, and had no idea whose land this was. Most, when told about the AT Corridor were pleased to know that the Corridor was protecting their land from ever being bordered by development. Property values tended to go up because they were in a protected conservation zone.

The restrictions of use within the AT Corridor are manifold; No wheeled vehicles including mountain bikes and of course ATVs. No Deer hunting stands, and in many sections outside New Hampshire, no hunting at all. No camping or fires except at designated sites. No pack animals including horses, at least in New England.
Stealth camping does exist, and the title does indicate its status pretty accurately.

Now, here is where my involvement begins. About eighteen months ago I attended a workshop on AT Corridor monitoring. After the workshop I signed up to monitor a section of the Corridor running from Three Mile Rd in Hanover to Lyme Dorchester Road. The area encompassing Moose Mountain. I was given a complete set of the survey maps to the boundary, yellow paint, rectangular US Boundary signs and a day of field training on my new section. Being a bushwhacker at heart I fell in love with this volunteer duty. The first time I walked my assigned sections, took my time and covered my boundary over a four day period. It was like a big treasure hunt looking for and locating the serial numbered AT boundary monuments, following the yellow blazed trees through some of the most beautiful woodlands in New Hampshire. At one point my boundary went across a large pond which I walked around and picked up the blazes on the other side. Across fields, though deep White Pine woods, simply prime territory for wild life encounters and the peace and solitude of woods walking. During my woodland cruising I have met several wonderful families whose land abuts the corridor, invited in for lunch, and offered a set of eyes and ears living beside the boundary, neighbors who have volunteered as a sort of woodland neighborhood watch. Looking out for things that are not supposed to be happening within their precious AT Corridor neighbor.

As it stands today, and as it has since it was first built, the Appalachian Trail is a volunteer effort. Without volunteers, it would likely disappear into the woodlands from which it was carved, also by volunteers. Herein lies my appeal to you the reader.

I am the AT Corridor Monitor Coordinator for the 73 miles of trail running from Woodstock, VT (Rte 12) to North Woodstock, NH (Rte 112). At present several sections of the trail in both New Hampshire and Vermont have no monitors. If you have a couple of days a year to get involved in this volunteer activity, please get in touch with me via email on this site. Fall is the ideal season to get involved since the bugs are gone, and the leaves too.

What are the duties of a Corridor Monitor?

1. Walk your boundary once a year, spring or fall
2. Visit frequently abused areas more often (hotspots)
3. Repaint the yellow blazes with materials provided as needed
4. Report problems, encroachments or violations to your Coordinator

Thanks for taking the time to read this, Tom Wheeler

10-13-2007, 16:54
Great post thanks. The only thing I disagree with is "no camping except at designated sites".... and your implied definition of stealth camping which, if I'm not mistaken, donates illegal. That term apparently has been hijacked by the AT community often reffered to as being illegal, but was originally coined by Ray Jardine on the PCT as a method to avoid bears.