Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman
May Happenings 

By Bob Proudman and Beth Critton

ATC’s Board and Stewardship Council both met earlier this month. In addition to separate meetings, they held a joint session on efforts being made to manage visitor use. Initiatives include a voluntary registration system that allows thru-hikers to adjust their start dates or consider alternative starting points to reduce crowding at overnight sites, particularly Marcy and April; having additional ridgerunners and volunteer Trail Ambassadors on the Trail in the South to provide Leave No Trace education and encourage hikers to reduce their impacts; and staffing the Monson A.T. visitor center in Maine,  both to explain the no-fee permit system instituted by Baxter State Park for long-distance A.T. hikers and to stress the importance of following park regulations.
Climate Change Resolution
The Stewardship Council recommended and the Board adopted a revised policy on climate change that reflects ATC’s mission statement and outlines steps the organization will take to mitigate the causes of climate change, to facilitate adaption to climate change, and to document and communicate the impacts of climate change.
Advisory to Trail Clubs: Animal Deterrent Food-Storage Systems
 The Trail and Camping Committee of the Stewardship Council under the leadership of Cosmo Catalano has been engaged for several months in dialogue with regional partnership committees and Trail club and agency managers to prepare this advisory on food storage systems. It provides a table of various options to deter animals from getting hikers' food and the pros and cons of each.

As visitor use and wildlife populations both grow, steps must be taken to protect wildlife and to prevent them from becoming conditioned to human food and contact, and to prevent injuries to people. (See Bear Incidents and Closures at right.) Otherwise, site closures and regulations will continue to increase in the future.

Kennebec Ferry
Craig Dickstein of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club reports that Greg Caruso of Maine Guide Service, LLC, is the new Kennebec River Ferry operator.  Greg is a longtime resident of the area and has successfully worked in the local guiding industry for many years.
In anticipation of increased hiker numbers, the ferry service hours for the peak season have been increased.
2016 schedule
May 27—July 8: 9 am to 11 am
July 9—September 30: 9 am to 2 pm
October 1—October 10: 9 am to 11 am

(Photo by Allen De Hart)

The Kennebec is the longest unbridged river crossing on the A.T. With fluctuating water levels due to a hydroelectric dam upstream, ATC established the service in 1985 following a drowning there, and, with private financial support, has provided ferry services every year since. The ferry crossing is the official route of the A.T.

Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is now an ATC consultant contributing to The Register. 

ATC Executive Director Ron Tipton and A.T. club
leaders at 2014 Volunteer Leadership Meeting

A.T. Volunteer Leadership Meeting

We are pleased to announce the 2016 Volunteer Leadership Meeting, to be held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, August 26–28. Appalachian Trail club leaders are invited to join other Trail managers to share good news stories and concerns, learn from each other, and be inspired!

The Partner Communications and Resources  and the Youth and Diversity committees of the ATC Stewardship Council are working with ATC staff and the National Park Service to plan this event. Trail clubs have been contacted by email and sent a draft agenda. Each club is invited to send two representatives, whose registration, including lodging and meals onsite during the meeting, will be covered by ATC.
The meeting will be most successful if each A.T. club sends upcoming and new leaders who can benefit from an in-depth orientation into what it takes to keep the Trail alive. We are especially interested in leaders reaching new and diverse audiences and teaching others about the Trail. Of course, we also welcome participation by long-time club leaders who have not had the opportunity to attend a leadership orientation meeting.

We have heard from some of you, but would like to hear from all A.T. clubs about their representatives by June 10. Once we’ve heard from all of the clubs,there may be space available for additional representatives. The fee for each additional participant is $300, which includes onsite lodging, meals, and meeting materials.  Please contact your club president if you are interested in attending.

For more information, contact Susan Daniels at or 304-885-0482.

Poison Ivy Protection 

Thank you to the readers who responded to our April column on poison ivy! 

Dan Dueweke of the Potomac A.T. Club offered the following recommendations.

I have used several potions on my exposed skin (face and neck). One called Ivy Block that worked, but for some reason is no longer being produced. The other is Ivy-X ( that I’ve also used with good results.  

The best way to keep poison ivy off is to throttle back your string trimmer when cutting it. The trimmer line will break the vines and leaves without turning them into an aerosol. I also wear two layers of clothing with, particular attention to my upper torso. My outer layer is a turtleneck that’s topped with a head and neck pullover that seals my neck and most of my head. I cut the feet off a pair of socks and pull the tube over my gloves to seal off the wrists from the shirtsleeves. I look like a deranged hazmat guy coming down the trail, but I don’t pick up much PI. This outfit can get warm in the summer, so I try to weed early on cool days.

I also wash my clothes as a separate load. Wouldn’t think of putting them in with the rest of a laundry cycle.

I clean my weeder with water and a scrub brush. I’ll let the hose soak it down and loosen the crud for a few minutes and get most of the gunk knocked off with the spray nozzle before scrubbing, then wash my hands and arms with soap and water when I’m done.

Boundary Blurb

At mile 1118.0 on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, northbound hikers descend from the South Mountain and begin their 17-mile trek through the Cumberland Valley, traversing in and out of forest and through scenic farm fields. Years ago, this valley crossing involved a series of foot-pounding road walks, ending when hikers reached the north end of the valley at the Kittatinny Ridge. Today, the Trail lives in a narrow segment of public land called the Appalachian Trail corridor (see map). The corridor lands were acquired by the National Park Service (NPS) after amendments to the National Trails System Act were passed in 1978. 

The segment through the Valley is one of the longest uninterrupted portions of NPS-owned corridor land in the Mid-Atlantic region. The corridor averages only 1,000 feet in width, and—with 38 miles of boundary and more than 200 neighbors—active corridor stewardship is essential in maintaining good relationships with those neighbors. The Cumberland Valley A.T. Club (CVATC) has stepped up to this task. Just as CVATC asks neighbors to respect the Trail lands, the Trail should be a good neighbor in return. This is one reason why camping is not permitted in this narrow, heavily populated section of corridor. 

As your journey takes you through the A.T. corridor, be sure to thank volunteers for their role in corridor stewardship. The A.T. succeeds because of their dedication to this program. Interested in participating? Contact your local Appalachian Trail club!

Ryan Seltzer
Corridor Stewardship Coordinator
ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office

Bear Incident and Closures

On May 10, a bear bit an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker on the leg as he slept in his tent near the Spence Field shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The hiker, whose food was properly hung from a bear cable, was evacuated on horseback by rangers and taken to a hospital for treatment. The bear returned later that night and tore up that tent and another one. There have been multiple incidents of bears ripping into tents in the park  this spring.

A bear believed to be involved in the incident was euthanized a few days later, although DNA test results later indicated that it was not responsible.The site remains closed. 

These overnight sites on the A.T. are currently closed due to aggressive bear activity :
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park:  Spence Field Shelter and Russell Field Shelter
  • Tennessee:  Watauga Lake Shelter
  • Virginia: Thunder Hill Shelter, Harrison Ground Spring dispersed campsite, and Lamberts Meadow Shelter and Campground
These closures are posted on ATC's Trail Updates webpage.

Leave No Trace Master Educator Course

At the beginning of May, ATC collaborated with the Appalachian Mountain Club to offer a Leave No Trace Master Educator Course based at ATC’s Kellogg Conservation Center in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

Participants (pictured above), including Boy Scouts, camp directors, college students, professors, and outdoor professionals, spent five rather wet days on the A.T. learning Leave No Trace skills and ethics and strategies for teaching the seven Leave No Trace principles to others. 

The course, taught by ATC’s Claire Polfus and AMC’s Jerome ValRios, focused on both experiential learning and thoughtful discussion on the resource impacts of a wide range of actions in the backcountry. The A.T. provided not only a beautiful setting for the class, but also a fantastic resource for examining the challenges and opportunities of rising use through direct experience and case studies from elsewhere on the Trail.

 If you would like to engage in these types of discussions and problem solving, we are providing two more master educator courses this year!  See below for more information.

Become a Leave No Trace Master Educator

These five-day courses will provide participants with knowledge of the seven principles of Leave No Trace and provide them with the necessary tools and techniques to disseminate those low-impact skills to users of backcountry lands.

The courses are offered at a discount to A.T. club members and agency partners. Two more courses are being held this year. You can sign up for one here, or contact: Marian Orlousky at or 717-260-3217.
July 1​3 through July 17 (Wednesday - Sunday)
August 8 through August 12, 2016 (Monday - Friday)

Both courses will be held at the Konnarock Crew Base Camp, Sugar Grove, VA 24375.


Share the Wealth...

of information found in The Register. 

From A.T. management policies to current issues to training opportunities and safety information, The Register is intended for Trail volunteers and managers.

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

The Register 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.

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.

Poison Ivy along the Trail

In response to our inquiry about how far north and at what elevations poison ivy is found along the Trail, we received the following information.

Terry Walker, Mount Rogers A.T. Club:
We have a fair amount of poison ivy in the 2000 foot elevation range. One stretch crosses over the A.T. if not cut back every year. Another patch about a mile south of Damascus would be a few hundred feet above 2000.

Dan Dueweke, Potomac A.T. Club: 
As PATC district manager for the A.T. in Central Shenandoah, I have weeded PI between Thornton Gap and Swift Run Gap — about 30 miles of trail. Much of Central SNP is along the ridge line and above 3000' in elevation. Plenty of PI up there, especially in areas with direct sunlight such as managed view sheds and overlooks.

Peter Miles: 
I am the maintainer for a section of the A.T. located in Hanover, New Hampshire. I have not seen the ivy along this trail section, most of which is below 1,000' elevation (high point is 1200’). This section of trail does have a lot of tree cover and this may discourage a plant that likes sun. 

Dan Simonds:
I am a volunteer with the Maine A.T. Club, also a resident of Rangeley, Maine, and a professional forester. Poison ivy is indeed native and common throughout New England, but its occurrence is quite limited by latitude and elevation. Here in Maine, we rarely see it along the A.T. corridor.  When we do, it is generally as a low ground shrub - not the aggressive vine that you are familiar with down south.  And most likely encountered in rich valley habitats, and along the edges of old fields.

ATC Policies and Advisories

ATC’s Trail management and conservation policies are posted in the Toolkit for Trail Clubs section of the ATC website at These state ATC’s position on issues affecting the Trail and are intended to promote consistent management of the Trail in all 14 states and the numerous federal, state, and local jurisdictions through which it passes. 

Advisories, such as the Animal Deterrent Food Storage Advisory adopted earlier this month, are more in the nature of recommendations and are offered as a guide to action or conduct.

Latino Conservation Week

Does your club have a hike, event, or stewardship opportunity planned for the week of July 16th?

If you'd be interested in opening your club activity to the public and having it promoted for Latino Conservation week, please email

2016 ATC Meetings

ATC Volunteer Leadership Meeting
August 26-28
Shepherdstown, WV

Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Partnership Committee
October 1

Southern Regional Partnership Committee
October 15
Soak Ash Creek Crew Basecamp, 
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
New England Regional Partnership Committee
Meeting and Hike

October 21-22
Crawford Notch, NH

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
October 22
Hamburg, PA

ATC Stewardship Council
October 27-29
Harpers Ferry, WV

ATC Board of Directors
October 28-29
Harpers Ferry, WV

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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