Keep the A.T. Fee Free
By Bob Proudman and
Despite ATC’s strong objections, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park implemented a backcountry reservation and permit system
in February 2013 that requires all overnight visitors in the backcountry to pay a permit fee of $4 per night. A.T. thruhikers are charged $28 for up to eight nights as they traverse the park. ATC was joined by the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club, the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, the American Hiking Society, and others in the opposing this action by the National Park Service.
Concerned that federal and state land managers will continue to impose fees and require permits that risk diminishing the longstanding A.T. traditions that emphasize volunteer efforts and the A.T. backpacking experience, ATC’s Board of Directors adopted a recreational user fees policy
in November. The policy was developed by the Stewardship Council’s trail and camping committee, reviewed and endorsed by the four Regional Partnership Committees, and recommended to the Board by the Council.
Now, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park has proposed comprehensive recreation fees for visitors and is asking for public comment through February 22 (see more here
). The A.T. traverses 2.2 miles of the C&O Canal towpath.
Some state agencies are following suit, looking for ways to manage state lands without burdening state taxpayers. In 2012, the Virginia Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife instituted a $4 daily fee (or $20 annual pass) for visitors to state wildlife management areas who do not have current state hunting, trapping, freshwater fishing, or boat licenses. About eight miles of the A.T. pass through a popular flower-viewing area of the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area in northern Virginia. Hikers passing through that area and Potomac A.T. Club maintainers would be exempt, but not day-hikers parking there.
Approximately one hundred miles of the A.T. cross game lands managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), which has been considering a host of proposals
, including requiring permits for nonhunters and closing game lands to nonhunters during peak spring and fall hunting seasons. As we were finalizing this issue of The Register
, we learned from the Susquehanna A.T. Club that the permit discussion had been removed from the agenda of the January PGC meeting, due to the volume of messages they had received from individuals and hiking organizations regarding the proposal. The commission’s recent press release can be found here
Your services as Trail maintainers and land managers are invaluable. And, as indicated above, your voices matter! A.T. volunteers and supporters must speak up and be heard by the land managers. Please get informed and participate in public processes on issues that affect the Trail and Trail users. We all need to work to support fee-free access to trails.
ATC will transmit its recreational fee policy to state and federal land managers and encourage ongoing consultation with ATC, NPS-APPA, and club advocates for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail—our national park even within
other parks—one that is often older, that comes with its own managers and users, and one that has important and inspiring traditions.
Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is Director of Conservation Operations
NPS to Recognize Volunteers with 25 and 50 Years of Service
The National Park Service-Appalachian National Scenic Trail Office is seeking the names of volunteers who have actively worked on the Appalachian Trail for 25 years or more (Silver Service award) and 50 years or more (Golden Service award). They will be honored in July at the 2015 ATC biennial conference in Winchester, VA. Since 2001, long-time A.T. volunteers have been recognized by NPS at the biennial conference.
“Active volunteer service" includes all time and effort contributed by an individual for the benefit of the Trail, regardless of the location, not just on NPS-acquired lands. It includes Trail work, boundary monitoring, overnight-site management, local management planning, resource monitoring, Trail assessments, club administration, publications, public service such as leading hikes, ridgerunning, outreach, and more.
Club leaders should submit names.and a brief paragraph about the accomplishments of 50-year awardees. For 25-year awards, only the name needs to be submitted. Nominations should be sent to Angela Walters at Angela_Walters@nps.gov by April 3, 2015. Contact Angela by e-mail or at or 304-535-6278 if you need more information on the awards.
Volunteers who have already received gold and silver awards are listed on ATC's Website at http://www.appalachiantrail.org/get-involved/volunteer/25-50-years-service-awards.
Blistering and swelling caused by frostbite
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas and most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. It may be superficial, treatable in the field by careful warming, or tissue may be frozen to the extent of causing permanent damage or requiring amputation.
The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out, because the frozen tissues are numb.
Keep your face, fingers, toes, and ears protected from cold and wind in frigid temperatures. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Keep dry, dress in layers that can be removed as needed to reduce perspiration, change into dry socks if your feet become wet. Move your face muscles and wiggle fingers and toes as you walk. Use your hands to gently warm cheeks and ears. Moving muscles both improves circulation and lets you know if they are becoming numb.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin—frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
- a white or grayish-yellow skin area
- skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
What to Do
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. If immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:
- Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it. This can cause more damage.
- Warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
- Get into a warm place as soon as possible.
- Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes—this increases the damage.
- Immerse the affected area in warm—not hot—water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body).
- Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
Taking preventive action is your best defense. By preparing in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.
Need to refresh your compass skills? Contact your ATC
regional staff to schedule a training event for your club!
Happy New Year! Thank you for all that you did to protect the Trail's corridor lands in 2014.
As the Trail clubs are submitting annual boundary report summaries, it is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of 2014 and to begin planning for the 2015 field season. As you plan the work that your club would like to accomplish this year, be sure to communicate with your regional corridor stewardship staff so as to best take advantage of the resources that they can provide.
One of the goals for the Mid-Atlantic region is to help provide corridor workshops for all the clubs in 2015, be it to train new volunteers or discuss in-depth issues among seasoned monitors. Please contact me to see when we can plan one.
Land Protection Associate
ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office