Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman
Old Saws

By Bob Proudman and Beth Critton
Since the early 1990s, hundreds of A.T. maintainers have been certified or recertified to operate chainsaws and crosscut saws. ATC’s safety training program originated with our partners in the Forest Service, using the curriculum and certification program designed for their employees. The National Park Service joined the partnership in 1998, and we recently signed our fourth successive, five-year Memorandum of Understanding committing the three parties to providing a uniform training program from Georgia to Maine.
The joint training program has been expanded to include all sawyers, volunteer and paid staff, who work on the Appalachian Trail. Training and certification sessions are provided at no cost to A.T. sawyers in all A.T. regions by expert ATC contractors and by agency trainers (see Sawyer certifications are valid for three years. Sawyers also must have current first-aid and CPR certifications for their sawyer certifications to be valid.
While the certification requirement was initially controversial, clubs and volunteers have come to understand the importance of training, practice, and understanding the sometimes complex and hidden hazards of saw work. As a result, no accidents or injuries among A.T. sawyers have been reported in more than 20 years.
The future promises more exciting developments, including a proposed new Forest Service Saw Training Directive that will allow the possibility for highly skilled volunteers to advance into the instructor-certifier role (already in effect on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail). Simplified techniques for hazard-tree management are on the horizon as well.
This old saw (Bob Proudman) is writing from Kentucky at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area where the Forest Service is hosting its annual gathering of Southern and Eastern Region saw trainers: more than 50 world-class experts. ATC would like to give a big shout-out to Regional Saw Training Coordinator Dan Peterson from the Forest Service and to each of the sawyer trainers from our national forests to say thank you for the years of support, guidance, and expertise.
Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is Director of Conservation Operations
A Wealth of Workshops

Many workshops of interest to A.T. maintainers and other volunteers will be offered at ATC's 40th biennial conference. There will be plenty of opportunities to network with other volunteers and Trail enthusiasts, pick up tips, and enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded people.

Prospective and seasoned trail workers alike will find offerings ranging from trail maintenance for newbies
to sustainable trail building and maintenance, from basic chainsaw maintenance to an edged tool workshop. There will be workshops on backcountry sanitation, planning for universal design, corridor and compass training, wilderness first aid, and invasive species monitoring and management.

For current or prospective Trail club leaders, there are sessions on A.T. cooperative management, recruiting volunteers, recreation liability, and using Facebook and club newsletters to provide information about your club and promote membership.

Hikes, excursions, exhibits, family activities, and entertainment are scheduled throughout the week. ATC's business meeting, where a new Board of Directors will be elected and 25- and 50-year volunteers honored, will be held Saturday July 18 at 8 p.m. 

Registration opens April 15, but the meeting packet and schedule are available now at Check out the offerings and register early - session sizes are limited and will fill up quickly. We look forward to seeing you in July.

Boundary Blurb 

There is a preponderance of certain kinds of encroachments in different parts of the Appalachian Trail corridor. In Maine, snowmobiles encroach onto the corridor in the winter, but the scarred rocks and eroded stream banks that surface the following summer reveal little about their activity.

Earlier this month, ATC’s Claire Polfus got into the field—on skis—to monitor three known snowmobile encroachments. “I wanted to get a better idea of the use pattern, which is impossible to see in the summer.”

Addressing snowmobile encroachments is important to the health of the A.T. corridor. The noise and activity of snowmobiles disturb wintering wildlife. Heavy use can even displace wildlife. While the spring melt may hide their tracks, other evidence of snowmobile activity lingers. Compacted snow hinders vegetative growth. Where there is little snow, snowmobiles’ passage increases erosion and injures plants. Recreational two-stroke vehicles like snowmobiles produce significantly more carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons than automobiles. Their exhaust degrades air and water quality. So it’s important that corridor monitors maintain their vigilance in the winter to keep snowmobiles limited to legal crossings of the A.T. 

Snowmobile encroachments are dealt with similarly to their warm weather relativesATV encroachments. In addition to reporting the encroachment, ensure that the corridor boundary where it encroaches is signed well. Follow the entire trail. Consider brushing it in at key junctions. Monitor it.  Track the frequency that the trail is reopened, or the frequency that the trail is used. Talk to the neighbors. Sometimes mitigating an off-road vehicle encroachment is as simple as informing a neighboring landowner that motorized vehicular activity is prohibited on the A.T. corridor or working with them to block off corridor access from their property.  

Alison Scheiderer
Land Protection Associate
ATC New England Regional Office
50-year volunteer Dick Ketelle of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club was honored at the 2013 ATC biennial conference by NPS-APPA Superintendent Wendy Janssen
 Nominations Sought for 25- and 50-Year A.T. Volunteers - Deadline is May 1
At the 2015 ATC biennial conference in Winchester, VA, the NPS Appalachian National Scenic Trail Office will honor volunteers who have actively worked on the A.T. for at least 25 years or at least 50 years. 

Active service includes all volunteer time and effort worked 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 by May 1, 2015. Contact Angela by e-mail or call her 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 by the year they received the award. The nomination deadline has been changed to May 1

Hiking through History 

ATC's 2015  Biennial Conference is July 17-24 on the campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia.

Registration opens April 15, but you can see the schedule of workshops, hikes, and other events here. Trail volunteers and Trail club leaders will find many opportunities to improve their skills and learn new ones.

The 2015 conference is being cohosted by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Mountain Club of Maryland. We look forward to seeing you there!


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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. 

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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 

2015 ATC Meetings

ATC Stewardship Council
May 7
Harpers Ferry, WV

ATC Board of Directors
May 89
Harpers Ferry, 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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