Sidehill - Volunteer Vitality
By Bob Proudman and B.T. Fitzgerald
It’s spring and the Trail maintaining clubs and ATC are at it again, maintaining and protecting our great Appalachian Trail as we have done continuously now for 75 years!
We commend the 5,427 volunteers who dedicated 230,575 hours of their time to the Trail in 2011— the highest number of hours since ATC began making these reports to our federal agency partners. That vital work keeps the Trail open for hikers and protects natural resources and public lands. The number of volunteers was the seventh highest, meaning fewer people did more work. While numbers vary from year to year, recruiting volunteers, particularly future maintainers and club leaders, is crucial to sustaining the Trail for the next 75 years and beyond.
We look forward to dialogue on this and other issues facing the Trail and our organizations at the volunteer leadership meeting August 10–12. Information has been shared with Trail club leaders—we hope all A.T. clubs will participate.
We also want to commend some of the experts among you: the 432 volunteers currently certified to use chain-saws or crosscut saws on the Appalachian Trail, 143 of whom were certified or recertified in 2011. Make sure your certification is current before using a saw on the Trail. If you need training, want to recertify, or want to advance your skills, see Information for A.T. Sawyers. The certification program, based on a U.S. Forest Service curriculum, provides classroom and field training and teaches best management practices for safe sawing.
For an excellent overview of a club perspective on saw training, check out the article on page 7 of The MAINEtainer entitled “Lester explains MATC Chainsaw Safety Certification requirements.” Those requirements were adopted by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club"s executive committee and endorsed by the club’s Trail overseers for their maintainers. We applaud MATC for its mindfulness of the risks of dealing with saws and timber and for making these club requirements, not simply something imposed from outside.
Stay sharp and saw safe this season.
Bob Proudman is director of conservation operations
B.T. Fitzgerald is chair of the stewardship council
L.L.Bean Grants to A.T. Clubs
ATC is excited to award $23,521 in grants to fifteen Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs this year. The grant program supports the Trail clubs and their volunteers in the vital work of maintaining and preserving the Appalachian Trail.
Primary funding for this program has been provided by outdoor retailer L.L.Bean, Inc., since the late 1980s. The earnings of several ATC endowment funds provide additional grant funds. Grants are awarded by a committee that includes a representative from each ATC regional partnership committee and each regional office.
A complete list of 2012 projects can be found here
More Ticks in 2012?
2012 may be a bumper year for ticks, with an increased risk of contracting Lyme disease and other serious tick-borne illnesses. The mild winter in most of the eastern U.S. may have allowed more ticks than usual to survive the winter. A large crop of acorns in fall 2011 means a corresponding rise in the population of mice and deer that act as hosts for ticks and also provide a reservoir for the organisms that cause illness.
Take precautions to protect yourself: Use the insecticide Permethrin on clothing and insect repellant containing DEET on exposed skin; watch for symptoms;and seek treatment immediately if you develop sypmtoms even if you are not aware of having been bit. The Centers for Disease Control has more information
Ranger Eric Barron of the NPS-Appalachian Trail Park Office has provided this flow chart
for handling various types of encroachments on National Park Service-Appalachian Trail corridor lands. He also wrote the article below on dealing with unauthorized trails across those lands. Encroachments should be reported to your Trail club's monitor coordinator, ATC (see below), and the Appalachian Trail Park Office. Ranger Barron can be reached at email@example.com or 304-535-5093.
Dealing with Unauthorized Trail Encroachments
By Eric Barron, NPS-Appalachian Trail Park Office
Unauthorized trails can be a challenge to deal with. Whether they are created for ATVs, mountain bikes, dirt bikes, or foot travel, they all can be treated with similar tactics, though some are easier to address than others. When an unauthorized/illegal trail is discovered, there are a few steps volunteers can take to deal with them:
First, note the location and report the encroachment to your Trail club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy land protection staff, and the NPS-Appalachian Trail Park Office. Check to see if there is any history on the encroachment.
Determine whose land the trail is located on and work with the appropriate agency..
(Read full article here