By Bob Proudman and B.T. Fitzgerald
Hard-won is the wisdom of experience! We learn much together protecting and managing the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Our lessons come through Trail maintenance, dealing day-in and day-out with whatever happens on the A.T.—hiking season incidents, windstorms and floods, incursions by developers and tower builders. We learn when to accommodate and when to resist
As partners in managing the Trail, all of us learn from connections with each other and from hikers, landowners, and other conservation groups. We learn from conservation direction in law, regulation, and policy as refined in the fires of controversy that erupt when the Trail is threatened. (For an outstanding recent example, Stand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze tells the story of a North Carolina outdoorsman who teams up with his Appalachian neighbors, ATC, and Park Manager Pam Underhill to save treasured land from being destroyed.)
And we will continue to learn and to build connections at the Volunteer Leadership Meeting August 10–12. We are looking forward to the first ATC/NPS sponsored meeting solely for club leaders since 2002. Conservation Director Laura Belleville and NPS-ATPO Assistant Park Manager Rita Hennessy worked closely with the Regional Partnerships/Volunteer Development Committee of the Stewardship Council, chaired by Barbara Wiemann, to develop the agenda. More than 60 Appalachian Trail Club leaders plan to attend.
One master of A.T. connections and lessons learned, Pam Underhill, has announced her retirement at the end of 2012. She has been the NPS park manager for the Appalachian Trail for 17 years and has worked with the Trail project an incredible 33 years. She has often referred to the A.T. as her "middle child,” and could be ferocious in putting her protective maternal instincts on display. Like all good mamas who send their young ones out on their own, she is confident that the Trail and the partnership that manages it will continue to prosper.
Pam will participate in the leadership meeting and will host a dessert session in appreciation of all that the volunteers do year in and year out. We hope that those of you in attendance will have an opportunity to wish her well. We know that all of us who have worked with her will miss her.
Bob Proudman is ATC Director of Conservation Operations
B.T. Fitzgerald is Chair of the Stewardship Council
It's the Heat AND the Humidity
Record-breaking temperatures and prolonged heat waves have marked this summer along the Trail. Our bodies regulate heat by producing sweat, which cools us as it evaporates. Hot, humid air makes that mechanism less efficient. Add the exertion of Trail work, and the potential for dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke goes up. Heat-related deaths of a.T. maintainers and hikers have occurred on the Trail. To avoid heat-related illness, follow these tips, excerpted from the Summer 2007 online issue of The Register (read full article here).
Plan and Prepare
Plan trail work to avoid the hottest times of day and drink additional liquids before, during, and after a work trip. Carry plenty of water—you may need as much as 32 ounces of liquid an hour working in hot weather.
Rest and rehydrate
Take frequent rest-breaks in the shade. Avoid dehydration by drinking small amounts of fluids frequently, before you feel thirsty. Thirst is an indication of dehydration. Avoid coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas, and alcohol, which increase fluid loss.
Message from Pam Underhill
While water is the main thing our bodies need, electrolytes—salts such as sodium and potassium that are critical for nerve and muscle function—also are lost when we sweat. Drinking copious amounts of water alone may cause a serious and potentially fatal electrolyte imbalance. Orange juice, tomato juice and sports drinks help replenish fluids and electrolytes. Bananas and oranges are good sources of potassium.
With more fond memories than you can shake a stick at and even fonder hopes for the future after 37-plus years, I have decided to retire this December from federal service.
It has been my pride and privilege to work for the National Park Service on the Appalachian Trail for the last 33 years. I feel just plain lucky that I got to be part of this extraordinary era of protection for the Trail and am grateful to the National Park Service and the American people for the chance to be part of such an awesome conservation story—a story that happily continues.
I'm grateful also to have found a place in the Appalachian Trail community—the most wonderful people dwell in Appalachian Trail land, and I've met some of my best friends there! And lastly, I'm grateful to my two beautiful children, Thera and Mark, for tolerating and sharing me with my adopted "middle child"—the Appalachian Trail. There definitely were some hints of sibling rivalry!
I know the A.T. will continue to attract wonderful people and the people it needs when it needs them. I know the NPS Regional Director intends to move quickly to fill the position and work towards the smoothest possible transition. I will do everything I can to help with that. My path is going to take me fading happily into my own parade, spending more time with my kids and grand-kids (after hitting the pause button, that is), and taking a bit of time to do a little contemplating. I hope my path takes me across all of yours, of course, too, and I will work towards that end!
NPS-Appalachian Trail Park Manager
Teamwork on the Trail
Married volunteers Bob Snyder and Mary Berryhill of the AMC-Berkshire Chapter have been Appalachian Trail maintainers since 1988 and 1993 (respectively) and corridor monitors since 1988 and 1994. This year, they added natural heritage monitoring to their repertoire.
They attended a natural heritage workshop for Berkshire and Connecticut chapter members in April. Recently, they participated in a rare-plant monitoring trip covering three sites, including their A.T. section, proudly working in full boundary regalia! The group included expert naturalist Charlie Quinlan (who worked on the original natural heritage survey along the A.T. in Massachusetts and Connecticut) and Adam Brown of ATC. The group successfully located a number of rare plants.
Bob and Mary have proven to be a very effective team and an asset for their club and the A.T.
—Steve Smith, AMC-Berkshire Chapter Monitor Coordinator
This month, we worked with the Roanoke A.T. Club (RATC) to conduct a boundary monitoring and maintenance workshop at the Catawba Community Center. Boundary Tech Nicole Wooten, who organized the workshop, invited other area clubs to participate. Along with RATC members, representatives from the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech, Piedmont A.T. Hikers and the Natural Bridge A.T. Club participated. We learned that all of the clubs in attendance have resources to help RATC with its 70 miles of boundary. We hope that the connections made at the workshop will facilitate interclub collaboration in the Carvins Cove area boundary that protects McAfees Knob and Tinker Cliffs, a particularly popular section of the AT.
In August, we will work with the Potomac A.T. Club to offer refresher training for experienced boundary monitors. The refresher will update monitors’ skills, give them the opportunity to get their questions answered, and allow better collaboration with each other and with ATC on addressing problematic areas.
In April we led a training session with the Philadelphia Trail Club (PTC) to help the club revive its boundary monitoring and maintenance program. Representatives from AMC-Delaware Valley Chapter and the Batona Hiking Club also attended and expressed interest in further collaboration with PTC on boundary work.
What does your club’s boundary program need? Could it benefit from an introductory workshop or a training refresher? Send me an e-mail so we can discuss your club's needs.