Appalachian Trail Conservancy unveils new help resource for Pennsylvania

In June 2008, the PA Appalachian Trail Act was amended by Act 24, requiring the 58 PA municipalities along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) to take action to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the Trail and to conserve and maintain it as a public natural resource. The legislation was prompted by a Commonwealth Court case related to a proposal to construct a country club for sports car enthusiasts, which threatened a portion of the A.T. in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.

Act 24 requires such actions – including the adoption, implementation and enforcement of zoning ordinances as the governing body deems necessary – to preserve those values. The PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) was directed to assist municipalities with implementation. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) now manages the Act 24 implementation project with oversight from the National Park Service (NPS).

DCED appointed a Task Force to design a program to implement the intent of Act 24. The Task Force identified the need for resource material to assist municipalities in developing the most appropriate zoning and other conservation strategies. The resulting Conservation Guidebook for Communities Along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Guidebook) identifies seven characteristics of communities that are most likely to be effective in addressing issues associated with the Trail. Those characteristics – also known as the Seven Principles – provide the basis for a suggested checklist for municipalities to use in making their own assessments of how well the Trail experience is conserved in their community.

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