James J. Vinch


This Article explores the effects of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 on the viewshed of the National Scenic Trails, concentrating geographically on placement of wireless technology along the Appalachian Trail. After outlining the Act's legislative history and identifying the values Congress intended to protect with its legislation, the author analyzes the conflicts between the Act and the mission of the National Park Service. As possible solutions to this tension, the author offers legal theories for protecting the National Scenic Trails, including application of the National Park Service Organic Act, the Property Clause of the United States Constitution, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Ultimately, the Author asserts that although sponsors of the legislation creating the National Scenic Trails could not foresee the impact technological advancement would have upon the trails, today's National Park Service and legislators have an affirmative duty to protect the park system from the encroachment allowed under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.