What is the value of a striking vista, and what would we do to preserve it from development? That is the question being asked by Protect the View, an online, AMC-led campaign seeking to build awareness and support for the protection of trail views and experiences within greater Philadelphia’s Circuit Trails network.
“From the Delaware River to the ridges of the Highlands, greater Philadelphia’s biking and walking trails follow river valleys and traverse other incredibly scenic areas providing memorable and cherished experiences for trail users,” explains AMC’s Mark Zakutansky, director of conservation policy engagement. “Those experiences are threatened because many of the forests and farms visible from these trails are unprotected. Facing development pressure, if these scenic features are not preserved as open space soon, they may be lost forever.”
Visual Assessment Project
Protect the View builds on the Circuit Trails Visual Assessment Project, which identified high scenic value lands along 30 of the Circuit Trails in the greater Philadelphia region. AMC’s Catherine Poppenwimer, assistant staff scientist and GIS specialist, conducted a geospatial viewshed analysis of natural features along selected trails. Viewsheds, or the area that can be seen from a trail, were assessed based on scenic resource values and key observation points which were then ranked according to their quality. Forested and agricultural landscapes scored higher as compared to developed areas. The results identified unprotected land with high value scenic resources.
Protect the View Project and Campaign
The Protect the View Study overlayed the results of the Visual Assessment Project with future development and population trend data, to identify 10 focus areas along six Circuit Trails that contain land that may be vulnerable to future development and would benefit from conservation. The focus areas are:
- Big Woods Vista: Hopewell Big Woods Trail
- Chester Valley Views: Chester Valley Trail
- Delaware & Tohickon Junction: D&L Trail
- Douglassville Views: Schuylkill River Trail
- Forested Ridges of the Delaware: D&L Trail
- Hilltown Farms: East Branch Perkiomen Trail
- Kinkora Farmlands: Kinkora Trail
- Neversink Foothills: Schuylkill River Trail
- Schuylkill River at Oaks: Schuylkill River Trail
- Schuylkill Riverbend at Spring City: Schuylkill River Trail
In an online event on December 15, 2020, the Protect the View campaign was launched as a result of the rigorous conservation and land development analyses conducted by AMC and its project partners.
Why are Viewsheds Important for Trails?
For over 100 years, AMC has worked to protect the outdoors, expand recreation, and engage outdoor enthusiasts in our mission. The surrounding landscape is often the primary reason to be outdoors, to enjoy majestic landscapes and views. As trail development expands across the Philadelphia region, AMC has prioritized connecting trail users with opportunities to speak up for their trail and the experiences they cherish. Protect the View doesn’t just tell the story of trail viewsheds but connects trail users directly with decision-makers to voice their support for increasing funding for open space and conservation programs that help protect trail corridors and landscapes.
Visit ProtecttheView.com for images, an interactive map, and video footage of each trail view focus area. View the interactive maps that provide population growth projections and development planning for each of the 10 trail views, then email your state representatives to ask them to support funding for open space protection.
“Protect the View asks everyone who enjoys the trails of the Philadelphia region to be a #TrailHugger by speaking up for the programs that help make trails and trail experiences possible in their communities,” said Kimberly Witt, AMC’s Mid-Atlantic policy manager.