Appalachian Trail Visitation Study Underway

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The National Park Service is currently conducting a project to develop an effective system for tallying the number of hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

This is from the press release:

The project started in 2007 with the Appalachian Trail (AT) entering into an interagency agreement with the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station and expert mathematical statisticians and social scientists to identify a process for determining a defendable annual visitation number. This was no small task. With literally thousands of access points from Georgia to Maine, where does one begin?

Researchers spent a year identifying a pilot process and implementing a survey on a “testable” section of the AT. The process selected included a stratified random survey design which utilized two survey instruments, exit site tallies, and a survey questionnaire to obtain visitation estimates on a portion of the AT.

The design identifies three components (non-proxy, proxy, and special days) which can be used to subdivide the sampling frame into estimator types that lead to more efficient sampling and estimation processes.

I guess a fairly accurate head count would be a nice thing to know. But what value does it really have? Will this information have any impact on how the trail is managed?

Given the state of our economy and the number of people unemployed, doesn't this seem like a grand waste of money? But hey, this is our government at work, why do they have to care about how are tax dollars are spent....

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.

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