Linking the Landscape

Conservation Strategies Along Land and Water Trail Corridors

American Rivers discusses protecting riverside land through the creation of Blue Trails, the water equivalent to hiking trails, and messaging strategies developed as part of the Waccamaw River Blue Trail.

by Laura Belleville, Senior Director of Conservation, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Staci Williams, Waccamaw River Blue Trail Organizer, American Rivers


Lands bordering trails are increasingly vulnerable to incompatible development. To conserve the natural resources, vistas, and cultural heritage that make trail experiences unique, we are partnering with communities and land trusts on education and outreach, land use planning, and economic development. We demonstrate community engagement strategies being developed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in managing the long distance Appalachian Trail. American Rivers discusses protecting riverside land through the creation of Blue Trails, the water equivalent to hiking trails, and messaging strategies developed as part of the Waccamaw River Blue Trail.

About the Authors

Laura Belleville is Senior Director of Conservation, for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. As a conservation specialist with more than 25 years of experience including field research, resource management and conservation program development, she joined the Appalachian Trail Conservancy staff in 2005 and now serves as the Senior Director of Conservation. She currently leads a dynamic team of 25 staff in the Conservancy’s conservation department.

Laura and her team work with numerous volunteer and agency organizations on trail management, land acquisition, volunteer development, education and outreach, environmental monitoring, and advocacy. She has a passion for engaging local communities and volunteers in conservation projects. She has also worked with the National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy. She’s proud to work for a trail organization that aspires to implement the community building and conservation vision of Benton MacKaye, while protecting and promoting a premier hiking destination.

Staci Williams joined the American Rivers staff in May of 2009 as the Waccamaw River Blue Trail Organizer and has since begun working with local communities to protect this unique black water river. She previously served as a Project Director for Conservation Voters of South Carolina focusing on land use issues in Horry and Georgetown Counties. Staci earned a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa in 2001 and graduate studies at Coastal Carolina University.

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