Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman
The Footpath that Connects Us All 

By Beth Critton and Bob Proudman
From August 8–10, 50 Trail club representatives from 13 Appalachian Trail states attended the ATC 2014 Volunteer Leadership Meeting Shepherdstown, WV. They came from 29 of the 31 maintaining clubs, whose Trail sections range from about 277 miles for the Maine A.T. Club and 240 for the Potomac A.T. Club to 7.5 miles for the York Hiking Club and 2.2 for the Randolph Mountain Club. Some club leaders were new to their posts and to ATC; others were seasoned volunteers with decades of experience. Trail managers from the National Park Service and Forest Service, USDA, also attended, along with ATC staff, ATC Board Chair Sandi Marra, and stewardship council representatives. What all had in common was a shared passion for the Appalachian Trail and a desire to learn from each other.

We heard from inspiring keynote speakers on welcoming people of color and younger people into the Trail community. Audrey Peterman spoke on “Increasing Diversity on the Appalachian Trail,” and Antonio Solorio described his work with Hispanic young people in southern California. We learned that personal invitations are key, and that we should “just do it!” 

There were discussions and workshops on many topics, including the roles of the Trail management partners,
management and protection challenges facing us all, and the complementary planning initiatives underway by ATC and NPS. There was informal time to talk and hike together. 

Some A.T. clubs and volunteers are primarily interested in Trail maintenance. Some also monitor and maintain the corridor boundary or have taken on invasive species management. Some are getting involved with local schools and A.T. communities. All of us recognize that there are both challenges and opportunities ahead of us. To meet those challenges and seize those opportunities, we must be wise stewards both individually and collectively (through our clubs and ATC) of our Trail, the shared 2,185-mile pathway that connects us all.

The ATC board, council, and staff thank you for your contributions, and we look forward to our continuing work with you. 

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

Q and A from the Clubs

Club leaders attending the meeting had an opportunity to submit questions and comments, many of which were discussed there. One that was not addressed questioned the future of the Trail as a free resource for generations to come. As the A.T. has always been a “free” national park, this concern is shared by many, including hikers and the volunteers who maintain and help manage the Trail 
Some Trail partners have implemented or proposed fee programs on the A.T. in recent years. Such fees will have the effect of reducing the traditional freedom that has been the hallmark of the Trail. Preserving the Trail’s natural resources amid growing use numbers is important, too, so a careful balance must be struck.    

ATC expressed strong reservations to the NPS regarding camping permit fees in the Great Smokies. However, the Park elected to adopt a fee system for backcountry camping, and it was implemented in 2013 (

The ATC Stewardship Council subsequently developed, and is recommending that the ATC Board of Directors adopt, a policy statement to oppose mandatory recreation user fees. It will be discussed at the fall board meeting. The draft policy was shared earlier this year with the regional partnership committees. It can be found here. 

ATC Strategic Plan 

The Board of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has adopted a new strategic plan, following a two-year planning process. Drafts were shared with and comments solicited from the regional partnership committees, Trail club leaders, and the stewardship council, as well as the NPS Appalachian Trail Park Office, which is in the process of a developing what the Park Service calls a "Foundation Document" for the Appalachian Trail.

ATC's strategic plan has five goals: effective stewardship, proactive protection, broader relevancy, strengthened capacity and operational excellence, and engaged partners. 

The plan, which includes intended outcomes for each goal and strategies for achieving them, can be found here.

Letter to the Editor 

Joe DeLoach of the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club submitted the following comments on the July Sidehill column entitled “Trash Talking.”

As a maintainer who spends as much or more time picking up trash than any other duty, I could not resist the temptation to comment on trashing the A.T.
  1. Recognize that long distance hikers are only part of, and perhaps a relatively small part of, the trash problem. Casual overnight or weekend backpackers are the bigger problem in our area.
  2. Stress the desirability of self-reliance to the hiking community.  A culture of “someone else will take care of it” has definitely accelerated over the last 20 years, as have the expectations to be fed, shuttled, and hosteled.
  3.  Be more adamant with Trail Angels that they should only set up at road crossings and other developed areas, not in the backcountry.  And they should have trash cans.
  4. When someone is observed leaving trash, scorn them.  Wouldn’t hurt to do that to those who feel they must deface a shelter too.
  5. The more remote the shelter or campsite, the less likely it is to be trashed.
Thanks for making this the lead article in [the July] issue of The Register, it is a real and growing problem.  I suspect and hope you get a lot of responses!

Joe DeLoach
Boundary Blurb 

Kids are now putting on their backpacks and heading back to school, which means the summer season is coming to an end. 
It also means the fall corridor program field season is about to kick off. Want to explore beautiful lands off the Trail that few get the chance to see? There are over a thousand miles of boundary that could use your help monitoring! Contact your local club’s corridor monitor coordinator to find out how you can help out. 

Above, Corridor Monitor Coordinator Gini Maus and Skip Klein, Cumberland Valley A.T. Club volunteers, begin a beautiful morning of corridor field work in the valley.

Hunting season is also right around the corner. If there are abandoned hunting stands on corridor lands in your section, let’s address their removal. If your club needs assistance with removal, contact the ATC. 

Ryan Seltzer
Mid-Atlantic Corridor Stewardship Coordinator

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!


Family Hiking Day

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is looking to partner with organizations to lead hikes on the Appalachian Trail for Family Hiking Day on September 27, in conjunction with National Public Lands Day.

If your club is leading a hike over the weekend of September 27 and would like to promote it as part of Family Hiking Day, please contact Tip Ray at  

Also, check out this list of tips for leading a successful family hike. 

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.)

If you would like to conduct a workshop or give a presentation at the  Conference, please fill out this (very short) form (PDFDOC)  and e-mail it to

We are seeking volunteers to help with the conference planning, to lead hikes and excursions, to help with registration, and many other needs. If you are interested in volunteering, please complete and return this form.

Volunteer Toolkit

A.T. club leaders, Trail volunteers, and others interested in Trail management will find a wealth of information at

The Volunteer Leadership Handbook found on that page provides an overview of the unique cooperative management of the Trail and describes resources and programs available to assist the Trail clubs.

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

One of the most iconic locations on the A.T.—McAfee Knob in Virginia—is on Jim Webb’s Trail maintenance section.

A Roanoke A.T. Club (RATC) volunteer, Jim hikes it regularly, removing trash and ensuring that the Trail section is kept clear for an estimated 24,000 visitors a year. 

(Read more about Jim 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
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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