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Northeast Temperate Network (NETN)

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Appalachian Trail Environmental Monitoring

Fall colors cover the forest below the vantage point from Annapolis Rock along the A.T. in Maryland
The Round Bald on the A.T. near the TN/NC border..Blue Ridge Kitties photo.



Interested in becoming one of the scientists planning and conducting studies that are part of the A.T. MEGA-Transect?

We actively encourage investigators working in any and all disciplines related to our overall mission and goals to join the growing network of university and government agency scientists to direct some of their research on the lands and resources surrounding the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).


The A.T., a 2,176 mile-long trail that comprises more than 250,000 contiguous acres of permanently protected natural area creates a unique research laboratory. Its north-south orientation, relatively high elevation and the large number of diverse ecosystems through which it traverses further enhance its potential for both basic and applied study from the perspectives of a large number of scientific disciplines.

In addition to being a unique research laboratory, there is a growing body of scientific knowledge available about these A.T. lands and resources. As the number of A.T. MEGA-Transect projects expands, more and more scientific synergies will be possible.

While the A.T. MEGA-Transect program offers great potential for collaboration, it is not currently a source of research funding. All MEGA-Transect studies are funded through outside sources arranged by the PIs or their agencies. However, the ATC and its member clubs have proven to be strong partners in providing volunteer citizen-scientists and other support to PIs. The support of ATC, the National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office and other partners has also been helpful in assisting PIs find and secure funding for efforts related to the MEGA-Transect.

Preparing Research Proposals

If you are considering a project related to the A.T. or the lands along it you should contact us as early as possible, ideally while you are conceptualizing your study. We can answer questions about the process and help identify ways your interests might fit with other studies completed, in progress, or planned.

Useful Links

The National Park Serivce administers a centralized permit management system that allows you to submit research permit requests on-line:



Volunteer Assistance

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and its 30 member clubs have a combined membership of over 100,000, thousands of whom are active and dedicated volunteers. One advantage of conducting research as part of the A.T. MEGA-Transect is the possibility of engaging volunteer citizen-scientists in the research process. Engaging properly trained citizen-scientists can lead to significant cost savings and has the added benefit of building community understanding and support for issues related to the study objectives. However, citizen-science volunteers are generally not free. Recruiting and coordinating needed volunteers can involve substantial time for ATC staff and others, particularly when a large number of volunteers are involved or needed for extended periods of time. It is important for PIs to talk with one of the A.T. MEGA-Transect contacts listed below early in the process to ensure that adequately skilled volunteers are available in the correct locations. Depending on the number of volunteers needed, you may need to plan to offset expenses for ATC and its clubs.

Research Permitting

Research projects conducted on federal lands such as National Parks and National Forests require authorization. Obtaining the necessary "Scientific Research and Collecting Permits" is not a difficult or complex process, but PIs must plan ahead. This is particularly important because the Appalachian National Scenic Trail also crosses lands administered by other National Parks, National Forests or other agencies and this frequently requires multiple levels of coordination. As a guide, you should plan on submitting an application at least 6-weeks ahead of anticipated field work for non-controversial projects. Projects that are intensive or controversial, may cause some resource disturbance, or are otherwise more complicated you should pre-coordinate your plans with one of the listed contacts as soon as possible to determine whether additional permit review time will be required.

Key Contacts

Fred Dieffenbach

Environmental Monitoring Coordinator
Northeast Temperate Network / Appalachian NST
802-457-3368 ext. 36
802-457-3405 (fax)

Casey Reese

Natural Resource Manager
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
304-535-4009 (office)

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster