Stay the Safety Course
ATC is proud of its volunteer A.T. maintainers and of the expertise they demonstrate in their work, particularly their chain-saw and crosscut-saw safety skills.
Since the mid-1990s, more than a thousand volunteers have become certified A.T. sawyers, meeting national skill and safety standards to operate chain saws or crosscut saws along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Information on the saw-training program
is found in the Volunteer Toolkit section of ATC's Website (www.appalachiantrail.org/toolkit
While there was some resistance to certification, particularly at the start of the program, thanks to the encouragement and professionalism of our partners in the Forest Service and National Park Service, the desire of sawyers to improve their skills and safety, and the commitment of ATC to stay the safety course, this “Best Management Practice” is now well established in our culture. We enjoy a near-perfect safety record as a result.
Last year 169 sawyers—120 chain-sawyers and 49 crosscut sawyers—were certified or recertified. Most sawyers are coming back for their third or even fourth three-year reauthorizations. Some are certified for both chain-saw and crosscut-saw use.
The certification program is based on the U.S. Forest Service's curriculum, and instruction is provided by USFS, NPS, and state agency partners, and by ATC contract instructors.
Beginning in 1998, the ATC, NPS, and USFS have entered into three, successive five-year agreements outlining the terms of our joint work (see the current Memorandum of Understanding
). This year, the Forest Service plans to introduce a new national saw-training directive and the National Park Service has begun to apply its own training standards in the national parks.
In light of our longstanding, formal cooperation on saw training, we look forward to developing a new agreement to govern the A.T. certification program that maintains a uniform, recognized standard for all Appalachian Trail sawyers. We will continue to work with club leaders and our agency partners to that end.
We thank all of you for your support of the Appalachian Trail.
By Bob Proudman and B.T. Fitzgerald
Bob Proudman is director of conservation operations
B.T. Fitzgerald is chair of the stewardship council
Wilderness Skills Institute
Begun in 2011 and hosted by the ATC, the USDA Forest Service and The Wilderness Society, this year's Wilderness Skills Institute kicks off May 20 at the Cradle of Forestry on the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina. Among the workshops being offered are cross-cut saw certification, wilderness first-aid, wilderness trail construction, and the basic elements of trail management. Registration and other information is at www.trailcrews.org/wilderness-skills-institute
Crosscut saws are essential for maintaining the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in designated Wilderness where—in keeping with the goal of promoting solitude and retaining primitive, natural conditions—chain saws and other motorized equipment are generally prohibited. Last year, 46 volunteers received cross-cut certification at the Wilderness Skills Institute, with two of them achieving the highest (“C”-level) certification.
Invasive Plant Removal
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is partnering with Trail clubs to host invasive plant removal and education events.
In 2012, about 257 miles of the Trail were inventoried for invasive species, and the data collected is being used to select locations for invasive management projects this spring. Inventories will continue during the 2013 field season.
The events are open to club members and volunteers from the local communities. Volunteers will learn how to identify and manage some of the most common and problematic invasive plants found along the Appalachian Trail. They also will help remove some of the species in order to make an immediate and positive impact along the Trail.
Upcoming events are posted on our training and workshops page
. If your Trail club is interested in hosting an invasive plant work day with ATC's help, please contact your ATC regional office, Northern Resource Management Coordinator Marian Orlousky (email@example.com), or Southern Resource Management Coordinator John Odell (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Outstanding Volunteer Service
Congratulations to the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club's backcountry shelter crew, which received the National Park Service Southeast Region's 2012 Hartzog award for outstanding volunteer service. Over 14 years, the crew has rehabilitated all 15 of the backcountry shelters in the park, most of them on the A.T.
Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said that their work "demonstrates that volunteers can, and will, organize and complete complex projects that are of high value to both the National Park Service and the visitors."
Learn more about the award and the club's A.T. maintainers committee here
We welcome the Mount Rogers A.T. Club to corridor boundary monitoring!
With the reassignment of a Trail section from the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, MRATC took over boundary monitoring and maintenance for approximately five miles of exterior corridor boundary through and south of Damascus, VA.
Ten enthusiastic club members recently came out to learn the basics of boundary monitoring from ATC Boundary Technicians Joel Baker and Nicole Wooten, who took a break from collecting data points in the snow to lead the training.
Unlike the yellow paint used to mark most of the Trail's exterior corridor boundary, MRATC will use red paint on these lands that were acquired by the National Park Service, but are administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The club's work this season comes none too soon, as the faded boundary markings are in dire need of maintenance.
Boundary Technicians Joel (left) and Nicole (right) collecting data points in the snow
Land Protection Associate
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425