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A GROWING ISSUE - the protection of public lands and the concept of "landscape art" (and our "AT-perspective) !

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Should artists be allowed to paint murals on rocks or construct elaborate "rock cairn" piles ?

Defacing and destroying natural structures might seem to be in another whole category than "just piling up some rocks" - but in places like the Appalachian Trail where THOUSANDS of folks might pile up rocks as in the photo above ... well you get the point ... the slippery slope of policy making on "degree" - the stickiness and lawsuits involved in what that "degree" is - OR - the simplicity of "zero tolerance" policies instead. As far as piling up some rock cairns near an Appalachian Trail pond as part of tradition - it's just the same ol' story of a few folks ruining it for many. In just 19 months of running the "unofficially busiest hostel on the Appalachian Trail" here at the TOG - we have had to wrestle with rules changes because of just a few hikers like that several times already.

At the TOP OF GEORGIA HOSTEL AND HIKING CENTER campus here in the north Georgia mountains - we have a DEFINITE POINT OF VIEW THAT WE LIKE TO TEACH (for the MOST part consistent with the views of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, National Parks Service and National Forest Service) - that extends into our NIGHTLY FREE SEMINARS available to hikers staying with us and getting more detailed in the syllabus of our beloved APPALACHIAN TRAIL SCHOOL. These views are fairly "green" - with a common sense spin - such as our "Real World" Leave No Trace Outdoors Ethics and our vigorous "Real World" Bear / Mice Aware Program.

As ALWAYS with life and ANY subject matter; complicated, simple or political though - it's ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE and MOOT VS. NON-MOOT !

It's irrelevant for the TOG staff to say that "one man's art is another man's vandalism" as long as the National Park Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy or National Forest Service is concerned - kinda, The land is to be left as found - usually, Yes - it IS inconsistent and confusing - but we ARE talking about branches or in some cases -"extensions" - of government here (when you come down to it) so not SO surprising

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The Appalachian Trail's "Max Patch Bald" in N.C. is mowed ...

We ARE friends of the entities we mention above though and DO NOT envy the complexity of the management issues that they face ! So this discussion is just that though - just an APPRECIATION of the issues and PONDERING on HOW we want our public lands managed. WHAT natural beauty will be around in the continental U.S. for YOUR descendants to see - as you do today?

F.Y.I. - the management agencies we mention WORK VERY HARD with limited funds, and limited man/woman power. They DO GREAT THING we should appreciate. Sometimes they try to "reverse" environmental damage only to actually make a situation worse because only God could have foreseen all the complexities ! Some areas of the AT are left wild (and overlooks left to grow in) while other iconic areas (that might get increased usage by tourist day hikers) tend to be mowed and overlooks trimmed back.

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Some AT overlooks are traditionally trimmed back - some left to grow in

Here at the TOG - we regrettably feel the issue of "landscape art" will have to be addressed by management agencies with a zero tolerance policy - and NOT allow land art - or it's gonna get out of hand with increased usage by more and more hikers annually.

Now - that's "easy" for us to say - the policing of these policies would need to be funded and implemented - and that is a whole other blog entry

Thank you Appalachian Trail Conservancy, National Parks Service and National Forest Service for all that you do !

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Top of Georgia Hostel and Hiking Center

7675 US Hwy 76 E,

Hiawassee, GA 30546

Phone. 706-982-3252

Email. bob@topofgeorgiahostel.com

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