In partnership with the National Park Service (NPS), the primary goal of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Boundary Program is to serve as the guarantor to NPS and the federal tax payers to insure the long term protection of the $149 million investment in the 111,269 acres of NPS corridor lands acquired to provide a protective buffer for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. An additional $9 million has been expended by NPS to contract professional land surveyors to monument, mark, and map over 1,373 miles of exterior corridor boundaries in 11 states from VA to ME.
At present, neither NPS nor ATC have a common database to effectively capture and organize the monitoring and maintenance work performed annually along the A.T. corridor boundaries. Incorporating the boundary line and monument locations into a geodatabase along with their existing conditions, maintenance data, and discovered encroachments will enable ATC to more effectively fulfill their role as “guarantor” to NPS that the corridor lands are being properly cared for and managed. Using GIS technology will also enable ATC Boundary staff to query what areas are most threatened by probable encroachment, what areas are in most need of maintenance and boundary line reclamation efforts to re-establish the survey lines, and where annual staff time and resources should be budgeted and allocated to ensure the longevity of the surveyed boundary lines and the corridor lands they protect. With more surveyed boundary than any other national park and an average corridor width of 1,000 ft or less, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is one of the most vulnerable units of the national park system by encroachment via the thousands of Trail neighbors that share a common boundary with the National Park Service.