Appalachian Trail Conservancy
(Correction: An error in the previous mailing of this issue misstated the acreage burned in the Fire Update article below. It has been corrected to 18,000 acres.)

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman

2016... A Year for the History BooksBy Bob Proudman and Beth Critton
Besides being the busiest year ever on the A.T. in visitor use (see “Sidehill” in the November issue), it was the driest in memory, with drought and fire danger in almost all Trail states and significant fires in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee (see below for more information). An unprecedented ban on campfires was instituted on the A.T. from Shenandoah National Park south through Georgia. In some places, solid- and liquid-fueled backpacking stoves and smoking were also prohibited.

At the beginning of this year, we made several resolutions (see The Register - January 2016), and we want to look back at those.
One resolution was to maintain a perfect worker safety record. ATC’s largest crew program, the Konnarock Crew, did achieve this impeccable safety record and received a Certificate of Appreciation from the USDA Forest Service Southern Regional Forester in Atlanta! The S.W.E.A.T. and Rocky Top crews had no major injuries this year, no claims, and no lost time due to injury.
However, two volunteers on other ATC crews suffered occupational illnesses. On the Mid-Atlantic crew, a case of poison-ivy dermatitis was so severe that the volunteer had to leave the crew early to get medical treatment. A member of a crew in Maine was hospitalized for dehydration and heat stroke, a deadly serious condition. Fortunately, she made a full recovery.
Another resolution was to keep better track of volunteer hours. This year, we submitted to our federal agency partners the third highest number of volunteers and the second highest numbers of hours ever reported for the Appalachian Trail (see The Register - October 2016). The updated Volunteer Leadership Handbook, completed and disseminated this summer, includes information on reporting volunteer hours and on the Volunteers in Parks and Volunteers in Forests protection programs.
We also resolved to learn more about hazard trees. ATC held four workshops on identifying such trees. Unfortunately, a hiker camping at Lamberts Meadow on Catawba Mountain in Virginia was seriously injured by a falling tree, requiring several surgeries. With forests under stress from droughts and insect damage, more trees are likely to fail and create hazardous situations. Trail club volunteers are asked to be vigilant for hazard trees while on their regular work trips, particularly at overnight sites and places hikers are likely to linger, such as overlooks. The land-managing agency and ATC regional office should be notified if hazards are identified so appropriate steps can be taken.
Storing food safely was another item on our list. ATC’s Stewardship Council developed an Advisory on Animal-Deterrent Food Storage, encouraging Trail clubs to install food storage devices or mechanisms at overnight sites and to provide education on safe food storage to Trail users.
Finally, we have a follow-up on last month’s report on managing visitor use. Dr. Jeff Marion’s study on sustainable backcountry campsite design at Hawk Mountain in Georgia provides an example of backcountry campsite design for increasingly high-use areas along the A.T. It can be found here.
We wish you the very best Holiday Season and a safe, prosperous, and productive New Year.
Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is now an ATC consultant contributing to The Register

Fire Update 

Fires raged in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where “severe” to “extreme” drought conditions still prevail. As the late Dr. Lenny Bernstein (who served on ATC’s Board and Stewardship Council) pointed out for many years, climate-change modeling predicted that the southeastern states would grow much drier, affecting A.T. forests, communities, and water supplies.
(Great Smoky Mountains National Park photo:

The Chimney Top 2 and Cobbly Nob fires in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, comprise the worst eastern fires we’ve ever witnessed along the A.T. Gatlinburg and much of Pigeon Forge were evacuated. The firestorm caused 14 fatalities, destroyed almost 2,500 buildings, and encompassed over 18,000 acres. As of Dec. 16, the Chimney Tops 2 fire was nearly 100 percent contained. Thanks to a tip line set up by the Park, two juveniles have been arrested and charged with aggravated arson for that fire.
The Trail has been reopened in all areas affected by fire and no A.T. shelters or privies were damaged. The wooden roof of the Wayah Bald fire tower in the Nantahala National Forest was destroyed. The stone structure remains closed until a more complete safety assessment is performed by USFS. Trail clubs are continuing to assess their Trail sections, but it appears there was less impact to the Trail than originally feared.

Sustainable Camping Management

How should the A.T. community respond to increasing use? According to Dr. Jeff Marion, "Redistributing or limiting overnight use is certainly one management option, but substantial success can also be achieved by applying other tools from the visitor impact management toolbox."

In this report, he describes the management efforts at the Hawk Mountain Shelter in Georgia to shift camping to more sustainable areas.     

Jeff Marion is an Adjunct Professor in the Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation Department at Virginia Tech, where he works with graduate students in conducting recreation ecology research.

Boundary Blurb

This month, the corridor stewardship program would like to honor our two hard-working seasonal technicians, Adam Fryska and Garrett Fondoules. Adam and Garrett are both A.T. thru-hikers who wanted to use their professional skills to protect and steward the A.T. lands that make up the corridor. They began working for ATC in March and completed their season in mid-December.
They led boundary maintenance trips, hosted training events, documented numerous encroachments (including a seven-acre timber harvest), helped to resolve and mitigate encroachments, and compiled and managed large amounts of data. They also inventoried snowmobile and other side trails throughout the state of Vermont and used the GPS data to research historical land records to determine which trails were permitted and which ones were not.
Adam  and Garrett were a valuable asset to the corridor program, and we hope that many of you had the opportunity to work with them this year. May their careers in the conservation field continue to grow, and we hope to see them back at ATC next year! 
Ryan Seltzer 
Corridor Stewardship Coordinator
ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office

Alison Scheiderer
Land Protection Associate
ATC New England Regional Office

Thank you! 

No year-end recap would be complete without recognizing the work of all of the 6,500 Appalachian Trail volunteers and our agency partners.

Thank you all, and best wishes for the New Year. We look forward to working with you in 2017!

Register Blog

The Register Blog includes "Flashback" reprints from the original printed newsletter and articles on other topics, including outreach and new audiences, Trailwork, Trail protection, partnerships, and club news, such as this article from the Appalachian Mountain Club on engaging young members.

Sunbelt Bakery Partnership

Sunbelt Bakery, part of McKee Foods, has awarded ATC a $20,000 grant to continue the multi-year trail rehabilitation project in Bear Mountain State Park, NY. Fewer than 1,000 feet of new trail remains to be constructed, along with stone steps and retaining walls. 

The partnership is part of McKee's "Outdoor Happiness" campaign to encourage Americans to get outside. The company will  contribute to 50 projects in five years, providing more than $1 million nationwide. Each specially marked Sunbelt Bakery box purchased means a donation to one of these projects, for a total of up to $200,000 per year. More information about the campaign is available here.

2,189.8 Miles

The official length of the Appalachian Trail changes slightly each year. After completing several footpath relocations and remeasuring some sections, the Trail is now 2,189.8 miles long!

Toolkit for Trail Clubs

A.T. club managers and volunteers - this web page is for you! 

From back issues of The Register  to a maintainer reference library, ATC policies, local management planning, information on managing volunteers, and more—the Toolkit is the best place to find resources quickly.

Share the Wealth...

...of information found in The Register. 

The Register is intended for Trail volunteers and managers. It began as a printed newsletter, then moved online, and is now emailed monthly. The image above is from the April 1978 inaugural issue. Email issues are posted in the Trail Club Toolkit and can be found here.

Please forward this issue to Trail maintainers and anyone interested in the stewardship of the Trail and encourage them to subscribe by sending their first and last names and email address to

"A Trail for Danny"
ATC has launched the third video from the #myATstory series.This film follows Kathi and Steve Cramer who are hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail to experience the comfort it brought to their son, Danny, during his 2011 thru-hike.

Danny suffered depression for much of his life, but he was able to find peace in the Appalachian Mountains. It's an emotional story, with a powerful message about the mental benefits that the outdoors provide. 

To view the video, visit
Seasonal Corridor Stewardship Technician Adam Fryska with CVATC volunteer Skip Klein
Surveyor Ralph Clay and Seasonal Corridor Stewardship Technician Garrett Fondoules

Volunteer of the Month

A life member of ATC and the Natural Bridge A.T. Club, Doug DeJarnette is a skilled trail-builder, a certified chainsaw and crosscut sawyer, and has recently moved into club leadership.

Doug is highly safety conscious and believes strongly that ATC and the Trail clubs should lead by example. He practices what he preaches, starting with tailgate safety talks, maintaining situational awareness, and wearing appropriate PPE for the work he is doing.

(Read more about Doug here

2017 ATC Meetings

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
March 3-4
Bangor, PA

Southern Regional Partnership Committee
March 10-12
Black Mountain, NC
New England Regional Partnership Committee
March 18
Hanover, NH

ATC Stewardship Council
May 4-5
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Board of Directors
May 10-12
Dawsonville, GA

Maine 2017 Biennial Conference
August 4-11
Waterville, ME
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

Copyright © 2016  |  All rights reserved.