Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman
Volunteerism: The Goose that Lays Golden Eggs 

By Bob Proudman and Beth Critton

Every year since we began collecting data in 1980, the volunteers of the Appalachian Trail-maintaining clubs have surprised and rewarded the Appalachian Trail with the golden eggs of volunteerism. The thousands of hours they work each year continue to increase, and the value of that labor totals millions of dollars – more than $5 million last year alone, using the rate of $22.55 per hour for volunteer time (Independent Sector Those golden eggs provide countless benefits to the Appalachian Trail and its hikers and managers. 

The volunteers are caring for the Trail, but are we caring adequately for those volunteers? 

Volunteer Hours

In 1983, 1,605 volunteers reported a total of 20,058 hours, an average of 12 hours per volunteer. Twenty years later, 4,799 volunteers reported a total of 185,018 hours for an average of 39 hours per volunteer - there were three times as many volunteers in 2003, but with a nine-fold increase in hours, their workload had tripled! 

Each of the past three years has set a new record for the number of hours (245,548 hours in 2013), while the number of volunteers peaked in 2009 with 6,803 volunteers.

Most of the hours reported are still for traditional Trail maintenance and monitoring and maintenance of the NPS corridor boundary, but we also ask the clubs to report the time volunteers spend on A.T. and club management, outreach and education, natural resource management, attending training and certification workshops, responding to threats to the Trail, and more. 

All of these programs are necessary to ensure the future of the Trail and preserve the Trail experience, but how do we do it without overtaxing the volunteers who make it happen? 

Club officers are struggling with attrition and aging club memberships, a major concern that was brought up at the August Volunteer Leadership meeting. It’s time to review the tremendous contribution of volunteers, and how best to recognize, nurture, and develop the volunteer corps. 
As readers of the old Aesop’s Fable may recall, by wanting more, we could lose all, if we fail to nurture the golden eggs of volunteerism.

We invite your insights.

Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is Director of Conservation Operations

Nurturing Volunteerism

While volunteering can be its own reward, recognizing volunteers for their contributions helps nurture volunteerism. Appalachian Trail volunteers are eligible for the following programs.

NPS-ATC Hourly Recognition Awards  
The National Park Service and ATC have developed a program based on cumulative hours of volunteer service, starting with 8 hours of work. 

Trail clubs decide their participation in the program and order the items from ATC. This order form explains the overall guidelines. The form is also available in our Volunteer Toolkit (, just click on the Volunteer Management button, and then choose Volunteer Recognition in the right-hand menu and click on the form.

These are the current recognition levels:
 8–99 hours:  A.T. volunteer pin
100–499 hours: Patch 
500–1,000 hours: Baseball cap with embroidered logo
1,000+ hours: Fleece vest with embroidered logo
America the Beautiful - Volunteer Pass
Volunteers with at least 250 cumulative service hours are eligible for a free one-year pass covering entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges and some other federal recreation sites. Details are on this application form, which needs to be completed, signed, and submitted to the NPS-Appalachian Trail Park Office.

Presidential Volunteer Service Award
Volunteers with at least 4,000 cumulative hours are eligible for a Presidential Volunteer Service award, which includes a pin, a certificate/plaque, and letter signed by the president. Contact for more information or to place an order. This item may take several weeks to process.

What to do if... 
What to Do if You Suspect You’ve Found an Invasive Plant on Your Trail Section
By Marian Orlousky
Wavy-leaf basket grass
Invasive plants are popping up all along the A.T., and the thought of managing them can be daunting. It is true that some places are simply too far gone for any individual to be able to make a dent in the onslaught of invaders. The good news, however, is that there are many places along the A.T. where invasive plants are just beginning to be introduced, and it is in these areas that our vigilance can have a major influence on whether or not the area becomes impacted. 

We are keeping a close eye on some of the newer species along the A.T., including wavy-leaf basket grass, pale swallow-wort, Jupiter’s distaff, and Asiatic dayflower.
Asiatic dayflower
If you suspect you're found an invasive plant on the A.T. or A.T. lands, these are the steps to take:
  1. Verify
  2. Learn More
  3. Early Detection/Rapid Response
  4. Report Major Infestations
  5. Report New Species
See the full article here for more photos and information.

Boundary Blurb 



The AHS crew, MATC volunteers and ATC staff just before heading into the field on their last day of work. Canines Raven and Roland also helped with crew morale and by chewing offending sticks.
Not pictured: Dave Field

ATC and Maine A.T. Club volunteers welcomed the American Hiking Society (AHS) to work for a week on much-needed boundary maintenance this month. We hosted our largest crew yet in this, the fourth year of our partnership with AHS. 

Under MATC and ATC leadership, the crew monitored and maintained steep boundary lines between Rt. 4 and Eddy Pond, as well as densely overgrown lines south of Rt. 27. In addition to enduring treacherous terrain, the group endured the first few frosts of the season while they were camped at Rangeley Lake State Park. 

The work that the AHS crew performed brings this boundary section up to standard, so that club monitors will be able to accomplish all subsequent monitoring and maintenance.

Alison Scheiderer
Land Protection Associate
ATC New England Regional Office

Relive the Legacy

Discover the unique history of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in theaters this fall!

ATC's annual membership drive will feature the never-before-seen film An American Legacy in addition to exciting speakers, limited-edition prizes, and more.

Find out the tour schedule and reserve seats here.
Use PROMO code ATCST14 amd get $5 off the admission price. Adult admission includes a one-year new or gift membership.

Please share this information and help us reach our goal of 2,180 new members!


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 

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.

Learn about Invasives

Early detection and rapid response may help prevent a "hostile takeover" by fast-growing exotic species that displace native plants in your club's Trail section. 

Your ATC regional office can provide information on invasives to look out for and how best to manage them.

State departments of conservation often provide information and fact sheets on species of concern.

These fact sheets focus on wavy-leaf basketgrass and pale swallow-wort.


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 of the Month

From wielding a chainsaw or cross-cut saw to using mapping and GPS skills to Trail management, John and Trudy Phillips of the Natural Bridge A.T. Club (NBATC) bring their expertise to the Appalachian Trail.

John serves on the NBATC board and is a great club resource, whether sharpening crosscut saws or using his considerable mapping, GIS, and computer skills.

A past club president, Trudy chairs the VA regional partnership committee and represents the region on ATC's stewardship council. 

(Read more about Trudy and John here)

2014 ATC Meetings

Southern Regional Partnership Committee
October 18
Asheville, NC

Virginia Regional Partnership Committee
October 25
Narrows, VA

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
October 25
Harrisburg, PA

ATC Stewardship Council
Oct. 30–Nov. 1
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Board of Directors
Oct. 31–Nov. 1
Shepherdstown, WV

New England Regional Partnership Committee
November 22
Crawford Notch, NH

2015 ATC Meetings

New England Regional Partnership Committee
Date/Location TBD

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

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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