Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman
The Pipelines are Coming

By Bob Proudman and Beth Critton
If you see or hear something, say something!
 Proposed route of Atlantic Coast pipeline
In the past year, the ATC and NPS have learned of at least 10 proposed gas pipelines that, if approved, will be built across the A.T. ATC Conservation Director Laura Belleville estimates that the number of crossings will likely double in 2015 to about two dozen between southwest Virginia and Massachusetts. See her op-ed on the cumulative impact of the proposed lines, which was recently published in the Roanoke Times (Trail Guardians).
The reason for all this activity? The Marcellus shale formation—the second most productive natural gas formation worldwide—is estimated to be able to produce enough energy to supply the U.S. for 10 years. Underlying much of five eastern states including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and a sliver of Virginia, the Marcellus may actually be less productive than an even larger and deeper shale deposit, called “Utica” after the town in New York where it was first discovered in 1832.
Thanks to the technological breakthrough of hydraulic fracturing (known as “fracking”), energy companies are able to use drills turned horizontally into the thin layers of these dense shale formations, after which water and chemicals are pumped into the shale under high pressure until it fractures, releasing the natural gas.
Energy companies want to build pipelines not only to supply markets in eastern cities, but also to export, requiring access to eastern seaports. Compression stations and other infrastructure will be required and need to be addressed as well.
Coordination among state and federal agency partners will be essential. The National Park Service has briefed ATC and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee (RPC), and the New England RPC has been offering webinars about pipelines. APPA and NPS Northeast Region staff are working internally with other eastern national parks affected by this gas rush, and will soon meet with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil.

Specific park-by-park legislation from Congress is required to allow the NPS to consider granting a right-of-way on NPS lands. A multidisciplinary team of key NPS staff from across the country is engaged in the issue.
The Stewardship Council has formed a pipeline task force chaired by Lenny Bernstein, a chemical engineer, president of the Carolina Mountain Club, and former ATC Board and Stewardship Council member. The task force will present draft ATC policy direction about these new major threats to the A.T. at the spring RPC meetings.
NPS and ATC regional staff are asking Trail club volunteers and agency partners to report any news they hear, or activities that suggest a pipeline is being considered, such as surveyors and realty investigators in A.T. counties and towns. Staff and volunteers will also want to track individual proposals using FERC’s website at The “For Citizens” section provides overviews of the process, from prefiling to approval.
ATC regional staff contacts for pipeline proposals:
New England Regional Director Hawk Metheny,;
Mid-Atlantic Resource Program Manager Michele Miller,;
Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Director Andrew Downs,;
Southern Regional Director Morgan Sommerville,
Protecting the Appalachian Trail is imperative. We need to be ever-vigilant.
Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is Director of Conservation Operations
Koonsford Bridge

Thanks to a two-year cooperative effort, the Laurel Fork Gorge on the Watauga Ranger District of the Cherokee National Forest has a new 60-foot bridge.

The Koonford bridge was engineered by the U.S. Forest Service and built by Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club volunteers, with funding for materials provided by NPS-APPA through ATC. 53 individuals contributed more than 2,600 hours to the project.

Eight-tenths mile of the Trail from the Dennis Cove trailhead was improved to facilitate trekking eleven tons of materials to and from the site.

To make washing out less of a threat, the new bridge is about a foot higher than the span it replaced, the rock piers were enlarged, and large rocks were placed to act as breakwaters.

See photos of the project at right.

Boundary Blurb

The  Mid-Atlantic region is having a very productive field season, with volunteer corridor monitors out in full force maintaining the exterior boundary of Appalachian Trail corridor lands. Those volunteers serve to protect the lands from encroachments by installing boundary signs, educating Trail neighbors on proper land use, refreshing paint blazes on boundary-line trees, and clearing brush. As our first line of defense on the ground, boundary volunteers and the work they perform is invaluable to ensuring long-term protection of the AT corridor. 
Below, NY-NJTC corridor monitor and Trail neighbor
The Mid-Atlantic ATC field crew has been able to work with 10 Trail clubs in the region and visit more than 25 miles of boundary this season. Several encroachments have been resolved, resulting in the removal of abandoned tree stands and debris piles, closing off ATV trails, educating hunters, and removing an abandoned track loader that had been left in the corridor for almost 10 years. 
Get Involved! ATC encourages all volunteers and trail users to report any potential encroachment to your local A.T. club and the appropriate ATC regional office. It is vital to have your eyes in the field monitoring these lands.

Ryan Seltzer
Land Protection Associate
ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office

Pipeline Applications

There are opportunities for public input during the regulatory process for proposed natural gas pipelines.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has information on the process and on citizen involvement at

Click here to see a full diagram of the application process for energy companies to receive certification.

5 Million Hours

From the beginning, volunteers have constructed and maintained the Appalachian Trail. Just since 1983, when ATC began collecting reports for the federal Volunteers in Parks and Volunteers in Forests programs, volunteers have contributed a staggering number of hours - 5,153,847 hours - to the Trail.

For  the 2014 federal fiscal year, 5,617 people reported 241,936 volunteer hours, the second highest number of hours for a single year. That total is especially impressive considering federal lands were closed to volunteers for more than half of October 2013 due to the federal budget impasse.

ATC salutes the volunteers who originally built the Trail and those who continue to construct, maintain, and protect it.

Hiking through History
2015 ATC Biennial 

The 2015 Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Biennial Conference, "Hiking through History," cohosted by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Mountain Club of Maryland will be held July 17-24, 2015 at the campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. (Click here to view a video.)

We are seeking volunteers to help with leading hikes and excursions, to help with registration, and many other needs. If you are interested in volunteering, please complete and return this form.

Koonsford Bridge photos

Do You Work with Volunteers? 
Check out ATC's Volunteer Toolkit for advice on recruiting, working with, and recognizing A.T. volunteers.  

Just click on the Volunteer Management button on the toolkit page 

Subscribe to The Register

First published in April 1978, The Register is intended for Appalachian Trail volunteers, their agency partners, and others interested in the stewardship of the Trail. 

Subscribe to The Register (and other ATC newsletters) at  or send a message to with "subscribe" in the subject line and with your first and last name and e-mail address in the body of the message. 

Please forward this issue or provide this information to anyone who might be interested in subscribing. 

Volunteer Recreation Pass

America the Beautiful - Volunteer Recreation Pass

Volunteers who have completed 250 hours of service on a cumulative basis are eligible for the America the Beautiful Pass. It provides free access to and use of Federal recreation sites for one year, beginning from the date of the award.

Appalachian Trail Club leaders can request the pass for volunteers who meet the qualifications. Click here to learn more.

2015 ATC Meetings

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
March 20–21
Bowmanstown, PA

New England Regional Partnership Committee
March 21
Hanover, NH

Southern Partnership Meeting
March 2729
Arden, NC

ATC Stewardship Council
May 7
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Board of Directors
May 89
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Biennial Conference
July 17–24
Winchester, VA
The Register  is published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for the volunteers of the Appalachian Trail, their agency partners, and others interested in the stewardship of the Trail.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trailensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. To become a member, volunteer, or learn more, visit
Our mailing address is:
ATC Headquarters
799 Washington St, PO Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

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