Appalachian Trail Conservancy


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 (
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

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 

Invasive exotic plants along the A.T. in PennsylvaniaThe 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 (, or Southern Resource Management Coordinator John Odell ( 
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.

Boundary Blurb

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
Alison ScheidererATC Land Protection Associate Alison Scheiderer
Land Protection Associate    
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


Volunteer Leadership Handbook

ATC's Volunteer Leadership Handbook is now available at

The Handbook was developed in conjunction with the volunteer leadership meeting hosted by ATC and NPS in August 2012 and is intended for the leaders and other volunteers of the 31 A.T.-maintaining clubs. Graphics, links, and updated information have been added to the text since that meeting.

Many resources in addition to the Handbook can be found  in ATC's Volunteer Toolkit. We will continue to post additional reference materials and provide periodic updates in The Register.


Volunteer Nominations due March 31

The National Park Service wants to honor A.T. volunteers with 50 years (Gold) or 25 years (Silver) of active service. They will be recognized this summer at ATC's biennial conference in Cullowhee, NC. 
For 50-year service awards, club leaders should submit names and a brief paragraph about their accomplishments to For 25-year awards, only the name needs to be submitted. Contact Angela by e-mail or at 304-535-6278 for more information.

Don't delay! Nominations are due by March 31.
Names of  volunteers who have been honored in previous years can be found here.
NPS volunteer patch

Volunteers in Parks and Forests

Depending on where they work, the more than 6,000 people who volunteer on the Appalachian Trail annually are considered either VIPs (Volunteers in Parks) or VIFs (Volunteers in Forests) and are entitled to certain protections under federal programs.

Learn more by clicking the Volunteer Management button in ATC's Volunteer Toolkit at and then choosing Volunteer Protection Programs in the menu on the right.

"When a VIP agrees to share his talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, he is paying us one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession - his time."

George B. Hartzog, Jr.
Director, National Park Service 1964-1972
Founder of the Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program

Volunteer at the ATC Biennial Conference

Registration for the ATC membership conference begins April 15, but you can sign up now to volunteer.

The conference, hosted by the southern region A.T. clubs, will be held July 19-26 at Western Carolina University.

Volunteers are needed to lead hikes, register guests, support workshops, distribute information, and assist with parking, camping, and reception coordination. Information is at


Vince Mier - March 2013 Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer of the Month

Vince Mier ("Blaze") became hooked on the A.T. when he and his wife Lori took a dayhike to Dragon's Tooth. An A.T. thru-hiker and photographer, the Roanoke A.T. Club volunteer is also an ATC member who has volunteered for ATC's membership drives and at Trail festivals.

Vince says "The Trail has had an incredibly positive impact on my life, so any time I can share that with others in the hope that they too can experience it, I am happy to do so." (Read more here)

2013 Meetings

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
March 2-3, 2013
Bangor, PA

Southern Partnership Meeting
March 15-17, 2013
Henderson, NC

New England Regional Partnership Committee
March 23, 2013
Hanover, NH 

ATC Stewardship Council
May 16-17
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Board of Directors
May 17-18
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Biennial Conference
July 19-26
Cullowhee, NC

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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