Broadening the Scope of A.T. Protection

Landscape Conservation

…A realm and not merely a trail marks the full aim of our efforts.
Benton MacKaye, the Appalachian Trail’s visionary

The Appalachian Trail Landscape

A meditative sunsetalong the Trail on Max Patch. Photo by Steven Yocom

Photo by Steven Yocom

Recognized as a globally significant region, the Appalachian Trail Landscape contains a wide variety of species and critical natural resources, including a vast canopy of resilient forests and a network of streams and rivers. This natural network provides more than 119 million people with critical resources like clean water. More than 38 million people make up the diverse communities and cultures across this urbanized and populous Landscape. No natural region in the U.S. is as integrated into the economies and livelihoods of communities as this region. The Appalachian Trail Landscape has long served as an important wilderness recreation resource, a refuge from development that preserves ecological diversity, and a primary north-south migration corridor for native wildlife in the region.

With elevations ranging from 124 feet to over 6,500 feet above sea level, the trail sits upon one of the world’s most topographically and biologically diverse landscapes. This Landscape also provides critical climate change refugia for the future adaptation needs of plants and animals. Experts agree that the Appalachian Trail Landscape must be conserved and connected to maintain its resilience and biodiversity while protecting species’ current and future opportunities to move across eastern North America.

The Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service co-convene the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership, or ATLP, which includes top conservationists who are committed to a bold vision of greater A.T. conservation in the face of 21st-century threats. The mission of the ATLP is to connect the wild, scenic and cultural wonders of the Appalachian Trail and its surrounding landscape. All entities working on land conservation along and aside the Appalachian Trail are invited to participate in ATLP efforts.


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The Wild East Action Fund

This funding program provides grants to qualified organizations working to conserve and connect the wild, scenic, and cultural wonders of the Appalachian Trail and its landscape, also known as the Wild East.



A.T. Community™ Program

There are 51 communities along the Appalachian Trail’s corridor that have been recognized in the A.T. Community™ program. These towns and cities are assets for everyone who uses the A.T., providing food, supplies, recreation, history, volunteer opportunities and so much more. Find special events and promotions, plan your own A.T. adventures — whether for an afternoon or for multiple days — and explore everything these communities have to offer.



Building an Enduring Appalachian Climate Corridor

In 2021 and 2022, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, members of the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership, and dozens of other climate and conservation experts convened to explore ways to enhance the climate resiliency of the A.T. landscape. Their recommendations are included in a comprehensive report



Resources for Partners

A.T. Landscape Partnership Annual Meeting Summaries

Report: Building an Enduring Appalachian Climate Corridor

Members of the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership and dozens of other climate and conservation experts convened to explore ways to enhance the climate resiliency of communities and ecosystems. Their insights have culminated in a report that provides a path forward for the greater Appalachian landscape.


The Impact of the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership

Building a network of conservationists dedicated to greater A.T. protection

  • Rallying partners around the vision of an A.T. and surrounding landscape that connect people, communities and nature, forever safeguarding the backbone and heart of the Wild East.
  • Facilitating regional conservation partnerships that combat the effects of climate change, encroachments and incompatible development within the A.T. landscape.
  • Participating in a pilot peer learning exchange program, hosted by the International Land Conservation Network, to advance relevant and effective strategies on an international scale.

Conserving lands adjacent to or near the A.T.

  • Optimizing expertise to strategically evaluate land acquisition opportunities in the face of 21st-century threats.
  • Supporting purchases of land parcels in the Trail region, therefore expanding the protected land base.
  • Utilizing the Wild East Action Fund to support high-priority land conservation projects.
  • Activating local land conservation efforts through regional conservation partnerships.
  • Supporting designated A.T. Communities to accelerate the pace of A.T. land conservation.

Adding capacity to conservation organizations in the A.T. landscape

  • Providing additional resources and guidance to all network partners to increase collective impact.
  • Enabling partners to increase their on-the-ground impact through the Wild East Action Fund.

Advancing science-based conservation

  • Identifying areas of greatest biological diversity and resiliency within the A.T. landscape.
  • Utilizing available data to accelerate the pace of targeted land protection efforts.
  • Ensuring the A.T. landscape remains an ecological corridor amid a changing climate.

Influencing policy that would protect the A.T. landscape

  • Expanding the Appalachian Trail House Caucus in the United States Legislature.
  • Teaching legislators about large-landscape conservation work through regular briefings on key legislation like the Clean Water Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Restore our Parks Act.
  • Engaging strategically with the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Coalition advances full and dedicated funding for LWCF.
  • Supporting the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature, which would establish a national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of land and ocean within the United States by 2030.

Inspiring millions to protect and steward the A.T. landscape

  • Educating all A.T. users—including day, section, and thru-hikers—about the need for greater Trail protection through landscape conservation.
  • Creating dynamic conversations within the conservation community that drive collective action across boundaries and borders.
  • Inviting Appalachian Trail Communities to participate in a new era of A.T. conservation through education and outreach.

PA Act 24 / ATC Mini-Grant

Act 24 was passed to encourage municipalities to protect the Trail Corridor through stronger planning and zoning regulations. In this way, the Trail Corridor will be integrated further into the community landscape across Pennsylvania. ATC established a mini-grant to help fund these activities. Click the link below for more information.