David Richie, 70, Preserver of the Appalachian Trail, Dies

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David A. Richie, a former National Park Service official who had a significant role in protecting the Appalachian Trail from commercial development, highway building and other potential threats, died on Dec. 20 at his home in Hampstead, N.C. He was 70.

The cause was colon cancer, his family said.

Mr. Richie became deputy regional director of the Park Service's Northeast regional office in 1974. In that post he was involved with the trail, then just a footpath and now 2,172 miles long and running through 14 states from Maine to Georgia.

Under federal legislation enacted in 1968, the trail was taken over by the Park Service. Until then it had been administered by the Appalachian Trail Conference, a private, nonprofit group that coordinates the activities of volunteer workers maintaining the trail.

As deputy regional director, Mr. Richie was responsible for establishing the methods to protect the trail from commercial development while maintaining the involvement of the Appalachian Trail Conference workers.

He set a tone of cooperative management between the volunteer workers, the Park Service and other government agencies. Other steps he took included ensuring that neighboring landowners and local volunteers had a voice in setting the trail's permanent route.

In 1978, at the urging of the conference and other champions of the trail, Congress began appropriating money to buy a narrow corridor of land along the trail's length, which was 2,100 miles then. Almost all of it is now protected by the corridor.

Born in Moorestown, N.J., David Arthur Richie was a graduate of Haverford College and of George Washington University's law school. He was also a Navy pilot and Marine captain.

He is survived by his wife, Catherine; two sons, Robert, of Takoma Park, Md., and David Jr., of Fort Collins, Colo.; a daughter, Deborah Oberbillig of Missoula, Mont.; and five grandchildren.
 
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