Guest column by Dave Field, Overseer of Lands for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club
Monitoring the Appalachian Trail Corridor in Maine
Many have visited, or at least heard of, Maine’s scenic Acadia National Park. It is small compared to Yellowstone, but beautiful and exciting. Although Acadia encompasses 49,000 acres, only 35,763 are owned in fee by the National Park Service.
Maine’s second national park, the Appalachian Trail corridor lands, includes 31,803 acres owned in fee by the National Park Service. These lands are defined by 307 miles of surveyed boundary lines—more than the miles that surround Yellowstone.
Walking those boundary lines, keeping track of their condition, and the condition of 2,041 survey monuments and some 6,000 witness trees, looking for encroachments on park lands, and reporting all of this to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is the work of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club’s volunteer corridor monitors.
What’s it really like to monitor the corridor in Maine? Here are excerpts from actual reports: "Yellow jacket nest on top of monument area kept me from seeing monument." "I got to see deer eating, a moose casually walking towards me, and several grouse were raised by me as I approached them." "The boundary at this point gets deep into a Cedar swamp and the bugs were getting heavy." "I spent an hour and a half digging and pulling and measuring and re-measuring, and just could not come up with anything but the log with the nail in it. After giving up, I did take a half hour out to eat fresh ripe raspberries." "I'm sorry to say that I missed this monument, because I do not want to go back there. The map says 'boundary at top of south facing vertical rock--monument offset.' I think that I was so preoccupied with figuring out how to get down the cliff that I neglected to look as carefully for the monument as I should have."
Monument hunting in the muck (MATC photo)
As you can see the work can be tough. Walking the corridor boundary lines is not like walking the Appalachian Trail. The terrain can be very challenging—steep, rough, wet. But it’s fun! This is “geocaching” with a purpose beyond exploration. The greatest expense of surveying the corridor in the first place was locating the monuments, and it would be very expensive to re-locate a monument should one be lost. “Good boundaries make good neighbors.” Our goal is to safeguard the lands that make the Trail across Maine such a special experience.
A Corridor Monitor’s Forum will be held on Saturday morning, August 5, in Waterville, Maine. We hope you will join us.
JOIN US IN MAINE
AUGUST 4-11, 2017
ATC MAINE 2017 CONFERENCE
Registration Open - 2017 Maine A.T. Conference
The 41st conference of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will be held August 4-11 at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The ATC business meeting and election of the Board of Directors will be held on Saturday August 5 from 3-5 p.m.
There will be hikes, excursions, bike rides, and all kinds of activities that highlight the beautiful state of Maine from the ocean to the mountains. Participants will have the option of staying in dorms or camping on the grounds of Colby College and can participate in a variety of interesting guided or self guided trips.
Register prior to June 15, 2017 in order to receive the early registration discount. The full conference packet, including information on the lodging, meals, workshops, excursions, entertainment, and more is available here.
To register online for the Conference, click here.
Just about since its inception, survey work has been performed on the Appalachian Trail. Myron Avery meticulously plotted out the original Trail route and walked the entire Trail with his famous measuring wheel, which some consider to be the first “survey” of the Trail.
Since then, the A.T. centerline has been professionally surveyed, the Trail corridor acquired, and the exterior corridor boundary survey (which took more than 30 years to complete across 11 different states!) was completed. That survey is used by corridor monitors, who monitor and maintain the survey line to protect our valuable A.T. resource.
A two-part article entitled Mapping the Appalachian Trail, by Matteo Luccio, was published in 2015 by xyHt magazine. This intriguing article documents the history of the survey accomplishments along the A.T. and is well worth the read. Part one can be found at www.xyht.com/surveying/mapping-the-appalachian-trail/
. A link to part two is found at the end of that article.
ATC’s Alison Scheiderer using a compass to position this monument to point north along with Mountain Club of Maryland volunteer Mike Jenkins and NPS professional land surveyor Kirk Norton. (Photo by Nicole Wooten).
Did you know that the Appalachian National Scenic Trail survey monument, when positioned in the ground, points north? The monument was designed by NPS surveyor Dave Hurst. The survey center point falls in the empty space inside the letter “A”.
Corridor Stewardship Coordinator
ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office