Designing and managing a t overnight sites for a primitive experience
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True or False: In the absence of uniform guidance incremental decisions over long periods of time can result in substantial and permanent changes in facilities and the clientele who use them. Designing and Managing A.T. Overnight Sites for a Primitive Experience. Stratton Pond (new).

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True or False: In the absence of uniform guidance incremental decisions over long periods of time can result in substantial and permanent changes in facilities and the clientele who use them.

Designing and Managing A.T. Overnight Sites for a Primitive Experience


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Stratton Pond (new)

Stratton Pond (old)

Shelters are getting larger, less rustic, and more amenity laden.


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The A.T. Hilton Hotel

Casino

inside

Shower

inside

Pizza Delivery

Shelter Creep: Defined and Illustrated

Definition: An inexorable increase in the sizes of A.T. shelters and inclusion of decidedly non-primitive materials and amenities.


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Problems with Shelter Creep

Shelters:These changes increasingly promote a more social A.T. experience and insulate hikers from intimate contact with nature.


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Why is this a Problem?

Core Meanings:A.T. hikes are not an extension of our urban/suburban life. They are opportunities to:

  • Reconnect with the nature world

  • Be intimate with, rather than insulated from, nature

  • Experience nature’s sights, sounds, smells, and textures

  • Develop outdoor skills and practice self-reliance

  • Learn humility


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Why is this a Problem?

Large A.T. shelters built with modern materials and amenities have a powerful capacity to separate and distract hikers from meaningful contact with nature.



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Window covering

Additional Issues: Visitor Amenities

Windows, deck, benches

Decks


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Additional Issues: Design & Materials

Which of these are appropriate?


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Additional Issues: Design & Materials

Which of these are appropriate?


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Additional Issues: Design & Materials

Which of these are appropriate?


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Additional Issues: Facility-Intensive Management & Site Capacity

Bob Proudman & Son

“The Full Goose Shelter story”

  • Located in the Mahoosuc Mtns, ME

  • Shelter Capacity: 14

  • 4 tent platforms & campsites: 20

  • Large composting toilet, stainless steel bins, and roofed drying racks


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What Do Visitors Think?Results of an A.T. Visitor Survey

  • Survey Authors: Bob Manning (Univ. of Vermont), Alan Graefe (Penn State), Rita Hennessy (NPS)

  • Survey Purpose: Document visitor characteristics, motivations, and attitudes.

  • Survey Methods: Representative sample of 1,879 visitors stratified by 22 trail segments (summer, 1999). Names and addresses collected on the trail with a mailed questionnaire, 66% response rate.


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Visitor Survey Results

Extremely

Important

Not at all

Important

1 - Non-thru hikers


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Visitor Survey Results

1 – Non-thru hikers

18% of non-thru hikers and 12% of thru-hikers considered the number of other groups camped near them to be unacceptable.


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Visitor Survey Results

Should we comply with what current visitors want? What if they want a cabin (4 sides) with solar lights?

Do we serve the popular tastes of current visitors or do we make decisions based on a uniform definition of the types of visitor experiences that we seek to provide?


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Management Direction

The ATC Board of Managers defined the A.T. Trail Experience as:

“The sum of opportunities that are available for those walking the Appalachian Trail to interact with the wild, scenic, pastoral, cultural, and natural elements of the environment of the Appalachian Trail, unfettered and unimpeded by competing sights or sounds and in as direct and intimate a manner as possible.“


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Management Direction

  • Main ideals that the Board considered integral to the A.T. experience:

    • Opportunities for observation, contemplation, enjoyment, and exploration of the natural world.

    • A sense of remoteness and detachment from civilization.

    • Opportunities to experience solitude, freedom, personal accomplishment, self-reliance, and self-discovery.

    • A feeling of being part of the natural environment.


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Management Direction

Appalachian Trail Comprehensive Plan (1981) states:

“Shelters are a tradition on the A.T., but use of the Trail should not depend upon them. No attempt is made to provide such amenities for every potential user, so each person must be prepared to do without them. Shelter density and design should be consistent with the sense of the natural.”


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Management Direction

In November 1984, the following policy was adopted by ATC’s Board of Managers regarding overnight use (and particularly shelters):

Shelter Review Procedure - ATC’s regional vice chair will consult with the club proposing the shelter...to assess the basic soundness based on ATC’s “Shelter Approval Checklist.” (Appendix J. of the Local Management Planning Guide). The vice chair approves proposals contingent on approvals by the landowning agency and state/local permits.


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Management Direction

Other guidance:

ATC’s Overnight Use Principles (1977)

Checklist for the Location, Design, and Maintenance of Campsites and Shelters on the A.T. (1981, updated 1989)

Local Management Planning Guide:

Chapters 2(F) Overnight-Use Areas, 2(G) Drinking Water Supplies and Water Quality, 2(H) Sanitation, 2(I) Managing the Trail for a Primitive Experience, and Appendix J, the Shelter Approval Checklist


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Management Direction

The current guidance is dated and contained in many documents. It does not address the issues of shelter creep, visitor amenities, or increasing shelter capacity.

The Stewardship Council believes that a revision is needed.

Do you agree?

Question: Should the guidance be uniform or vary by management area (i.e., larger shelters are OK for high use areas, smaller shelters for remote backcountry or wilderness)?


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What Do You Think?

  • Do you think that the construction of larger shelters could or already has led to the development of a more social and facility-dependent form of A.T. hiking?

  • If yes, should we be concerned about this or act to address this issue?

  • Do you think that more specific prescriptive management objectives should be developed to guide shelter design decisions?

  • To what extent should the views of A.T. hikers guide decision making?

  • Who should make these decisions?


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