New Strategic Plan To Ensure Bright Future for the Appalachian Trail

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has announced a five-year Strategic Plan that will advance the health and long-term management of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). The plan, which was the culmination of a two-year collaborative process between the ATC and the ATC’s board of directors, is a vision and strategy that will build on the organization’s stewardship of the Trail while also aligning with the priorities of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

The new Strategic Plan, which is the first to be created and put into action since the Appalachian Trail Conference became the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in 2005, identifies the following key goals: Proactive Protection, Engaged Partners, Effective Stewardship, Broader Relevancy, and Strengthened Capacity and Operational Excellence. Together, these goals not only reinforce the idea that the Trail can be enjoyed by a variety of users in multiple ways, but also that the A.T. should be readily accessible to all who wish to be a part of the experience.

In order to accomplish the goals set forth in the new Strategic Plan, the ATC will continue to be the leading voice with its partners in managing the A.T. The organization plans to address trail deficiencies, address potentially hazardous road and water crossings, minimize visitor impacts, and meet land management standards set by the Land Trust Alliance. As threats to the A.T. emerge, the ATC will proactively protect the natural and cultural resources within the Trail corridor and its adjacent landscapes.

The organization will also engage and sustain a network of partners that reinforces its goals for the Trail. The Conservancy will continue to collaborate with the National Park Service and all primary federal, state, municipal and private partners in the protection of the A.T. It will also support the 31 Trail maintaining clubs and communities surrounding the Trail, so that future programs and initiatives are supported.

“The Appalachian Trail, stretching from Maine to Georgia, puts a phenomenal National Park in the backyard of millions of Americans,” said Ron Tipton, executive director/CEO of the ATC. “We must be a part of preserving this wonderful hiking experience for future generations.”

Reaching younger and more diverse populations has been identified as a high priority for the Conservancy. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that within the next 50 years white Americans will comprise just 43 percent of the U.S. population, while Asian, Hispanic and African American populations will grow substantially, making up 45 percent of the 2060 population.

“This new diverse majority will be responsible for ensuring the continued protection and sustainability of our environment and the national treasure of our parks, forests and waterways, including the Appalachian Trail,” said Sandra Marra, chair of the ATC. “Therefore, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy believes it is critical to increase the long-term involvement of diverse youth in the work of our organization.”

The ATC will also develop strategies to build a financially strong foundation and organizational capacity to ensure long-term success. The goal is to raise annual operating revenue from $6.6 million to $8 million by 2019 and to increase the endowment from $3.6 million to $8.3 million. This will be accomplished by increasing funding from major donors, foundations and other private sources, as well as growing the membership base.

For more information about the ATC’s strategic plan, visit


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