This story from the Washington Post earlier this week tells of a project to monitor the health of the Appalachian Trail, the idea being that as the ecosystem along the trail goes, so goes the whole Eastern Seaboard.

An example of the environmental changes along the trail is smog in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, said David Startzell, executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

“People will read that on 25 or 30 days in a given year, it’s considered unhealthy to walk on the Appalachian Trail, and we think that’s going to grab people’s attention more than if they just read about air-quality trends in general,” he said.

The project will be volunteer-driven, which gives all you AT hikers an excuse to do some good deeds while you’re gawking at the scenery. Find out more on the project here. There’s an e-mail address at the bottom to find out how to help.