Designing a wilderness : the legacy of Benton MacKaye and the Appalachian Trail.
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Forester and regional planner Benton MacKaye first published a plan for a long-distance hiking trail along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains in 1921. Ninety years later, MacKaye's greatest accomplishment is the Appalachian Trail, a footpath traversing over two-thousand miles through fourteen states. His plan incorporated both wilderness and social ideology, at times bordering on the radical. Central to all of MacKaye's ideology was that outdoor recreation should be accessible to as many Americans as possible. Undervalued for decades in the environmental community, interest in MacKaye's cohesive understanding of a “primeval” environment is growing. An examination of MacKaye's work establishes lasting influence through the history of the Appalachian Trail. Using MacKaye's writing as a basis for evaluating influence, two major events, the 1968 National Trails System Act and the 1984 delegation of power back to the Appalachian Trail Conference will be reevaluated to determine the legacy of Benton MacKaye.