Hik­ers’ bad be­hav­ior to be ad­dressed

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION -

Of­fi­cials with the Ap­palachian Trail Con­ser­vancy and the Na­tional Park Ser­vice say they will work to ad­dress bad be­hav­ior by long-dis­tance hik­ers that has caused ten­sions at Maine’s Bax­ter State Park.

Trail rep­re­sen­ta­tives vis­ited Maine on Fri­day to dis­cuss the prob­lems.

The park is home to the 2,190- mile trail’s fi­nal sum­mit on Mount Katahdin. Of­fi­cials say a grow­ing num­ber of “thru-hik­ers” have been flout­ing park rules by openly us­ing drugs and drink­ing al­co­hol and camp­ing where it’s not per­mit­ted. An ul­tra­ma­rathoner who set the speed record for com­plet­ing the trail paid a $500 fine last month over his cel­e­bra­tion atop Katahdin, in which he popped a bot­tle of cham­pagne while sur­rounded by a group of more than a dozen sup­port­ers.

Park di­rec­tor Jensen Bis­sell warned that if con­cerns about the ef­fects long-dis­tance hik­ers have on the park are not ad­dressed, the Ap­palachian Trail might have to find a dif­fer­ent north­ern end­ing point. As a re­sult, a task force of Maine and na­tional groups has talked monthly to ad­dress the con­cerns.

Mem­bers of Bax­ter’s gov­ern­ing board asked Fri­day for spe­cific steps be­fore spring’s hik­ing sea­son to pro­tect the wilder­ness of the area that it says has a “pro­found sig­nif­i­cance” to Maine res­i­dents, the Port­land Press Her­ald re­ported.

An es­ti­mated 3 mil­lion peo­ple hike part of the trail an­nu­ally, with only a small per­cent­age who at­tempt to hike the en­tire route from Ge­or­gia to Maine.

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