The Appalachian Trail traverses 3300 km (2050 miles) of the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia in the eastern USA. Except for the Cumberland Valley (the Great Valley of the Ridge and Valley region of the Appalachian Mountains) in Pennsylvania, and a few other valley crossings, the Trail passes primarily along forested ridges. The Cumberland Valley is the longest valley crossing of the Trail-26 km (16 miles) of intensively cultivated prime farmland undergoing residential and commercial development. To secure public ownership of the Trail through this urbanizing landscape, the US Department of the Interior, through the National Park Service, acquired a 600 ha (1500 acre) corridor through the Cumberland Valley to be managed and maintained by the volunteers of the Appalachian Trail Conference. This study was developed by a project team from the Department of Landscape Architecture of The Pennsylvania State University, for the Appalachian Trail Conference, as a set of planning, design, and management recommendations for the newly acquired trail corridor. The method of study involves developing (1) an understanding of the Trail, its history, and its users; (2) a general understanding of the natural and cultural conditions of the region; (3) a more specific inventory, analysis, and assessment of the natural and cultural elements of the trail corridor. This process reveals a corridor landscape containing the interpretable evidence of 250 years of agrarian landscape history and a diverse set of physical environments and biotic communities that have been fragmented by that land use. The two central ideas explored in this paper that underlie the planning and design of the Trail greenway across the Cumberland Valley are, first, the conservation and interpretation of the cultural landscape, and, second, the reduction of habitat fragmentation and enhancement of biological diversity. The product of the planning and design of the corridor land is a set of recommendations intended to direct future actions within the valley corridor. The cultural landscape recommendations focus on maintaining the fabric and interrelationships of the cultural landscape by including a complete representation of both the structural and biotic cultural resources. The ecological recommendations focus on protection of existing natural resources, establishment of forest habitat linkages, and restoration of native plant communities. Finally, two examples of the corridor planning, design, and management study are presented as a case study in greenway planning and design in response to cultural landscape conservation and landscape ecology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law