Appalachian Trail Histories

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An Invisible War on the Appalachian Trail (Student Exhibit)

The Appalachian Trail is under attack.

This attack is largely invisible, yet omnipresent and ubiquitous.

This attack has been spearheaded by a very visible but faceless enemy, the casual hikers and dedicated hikers alike who love the trail. While not a war of malice, it's largely a war of ignorance and even convenience. This war isn't fought with bullets or missiles but with microscopic plastics brought by the masses of nature-loving hikers. 

The explosion of popularity on the trail, as well as the simultaneous increase of reliance on plastics and other disposables on the Appalachian Trail, has done extensive damage to the ecological health of the trail.  The increased foot traffic and destructive consumer culture have left gear, plastics, and other forms of pollution strewn about the trail. This exhibit explores these aforementioned problems through comparative historical analysis, ecological research, and the consequences of ongoing commercialization of the Appalachian Trail.

The future of the trail is determined by how the volunteer groups and government services address the increasing ecological damage that is damaging the trail.  After every book, article, or movie there is a greater increase in hikers alongside the trail that can often bring economic opportunity to locals at the cost of greater foot traffic and ecological damage. Particularly around shelters, the presence of humans has increased brought consequences in the form of increased pollution, littering, and extensive damage.

Credits

Cody Nealon