Appalachian Trail Could Be "Canary In A Coal Mine" For Eastern US

A project has been launched to begin long-term monitoring of the environmental health of the Appalachian Trail. The trail goes from Georgia to Maine, passing through North Carolina and 13 other states, as well as eight national forests.

The project plans to tap into an army of volunteer "citizen scientists" and their professional counterparts. They will collect information about plants and animals, air and water quality, visibility and migration patterns to build an early warning system for the non-hiking public.

Gregory Miller of the American Hiking Society says the information will be used as a barometer for environmental and human health conditions.

The Appalachian Mountains are ideal for the project because they are home to one of the richest collections of temperate zone species in the world.