The effect of summit registers in the southern Appalachians

Authors: Clayton Whitesides*, Coastal Carolina University
Topics: Mountain Environments, Human-Environment Geography, United States
Keywords: summit register, Southern Appalachians, tourism, mountain environments, highpoint
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Summit registers contain an underutilized record of mountain visitors and are common features on mountain tops in the American West. Little is known, however, about summit registers in the American Southeast. This is concerning given increased tourism and population growth in mountainous areas, which may have long-term consequences on visitor experience and environmental conditions. The highest summits in AL, GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, and VA, as well as local visitor centers and land managers, were visited between 2014-2016 to search for past and present summit registers. Results indicated that Alabama and Georgia maintained formal summit registers, an informal register was found on Sassafras Mountain, SC, and no record of past or present registers was discovered on the remaining peaks. Increased vandalism and ecological damage was documented on summits without registers. On peaks with logbooks, the location of the register appeared to affect vandalism. Besides the presence or absence of logbooks, land ownership and local fees also appeared to influence vandalism and ecological degradation. Free, public summits contained more vandalism than free, private summits. Better understanding of the importance of summit registers on mountains in the American Southeast is necessary for appropriate management of these regional mountains.

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