Effective Stewardship Icon

effective stewardship

Lead a public/private partnership for managing the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) treadway and corridor lands.

I. Outcome: A.T. treadway, Trail facility and corridor land deficiencies are identified by ATC and the Clubs, annual work plans are developed based on priority projects and capacity and 100% of the annual work plan is completed.

Strategies:

  1. Annually assess the A.T. treadway, open areas, boundary line conditions, and improve related data management systems.
  2. Working with the Clubs, the National Park Service’s Appalachian Trail Park Office (APPA), the U.S. Forest Service and state agency partners, collaboratively develop annual plans for Trail maintenance and land management priorities to effectively direct volunteer engagement and resource allocation.

II. Outcome:
The impacts to the Trail from organized group use, commercial use and increased hiker use are effectively managed to protect the A.T. hiking experience.


Strategies:

  1. Implement the Group Use Policy, aligning it with the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and state agency policies.
  2. Support an assessment to identify priorities for new group camping sites and sanitation facilities.
  3. ATC becomes a Master Educator Leave No Trace Course Provider, providing courses to organizations and individuals that are leading others in organized outings on the A.T.
  4. ATC promotes a quality visitor experience and Trail resource protection through effective information services and communications.
  5. Continue to support the Kennebec hiker ferry service to meet increased demand, and expand a public awareness campaign to persuade hikers to use the ferry and not risk crossing the river on foot.

III. Outcome:
ATC meets land management standards set by the Land Trust Alliance.

Strategies:

  1. Align ATC policies and procedures with Land Trust Alliance management standards and practices.
  2. All ATC fee and easement parcels are visited and assessed annually and all easement violations are addressed.
  3. Transfer or sell parcels to conservation partners, only retaining ownership of parcels that can be leveraged for greater conservation and education purposes and develop plans for these parcels.
  4. Enlist and train volunteers to assist with annual monitoring of each ATC‐owned parcel and train volunteers to support and maintain landowner relationships.


ATC 2018 ACTION PLAN

Our goal is that A.T. treadway and associated facilities are in topnotch shape for a high-quality recreation experience and natural and physical resource protection.. In 2018 we will stay focused on accounting for all facility assets, working closely with our NPS and Trail Club partners. This accounting helps us identify necessary Trail improvements and ensures sufficient funding for all projects.

ATC will be working on over 25 priority Trail management projects across all ATC regions directly through ATC managed Trail crews and through contracts with our cooperative management partners. We will also work collaboratively with A.T. Clubs to support project design and construction. Some examples of our most challenging 2018 projects include:

  • Rehabilitating three, remote miles of the Appalachian Trail between Pecks Corner and Tricorner Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.This is a three year multi-phased trail project.Rehabilitation will include constructing Trail erosion controlling structures such as log waterbars, steps, and retaining walls, utilizing supplies delivered by helicopter.
  • Rehabilitating four distinct sections of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, from Jo Mary Road to Grafton Notch, installing more than 240 rock steps and waterbars.

Our stewardship activities also include working with volunteers to monitor and manage approximately 25% of the 1200 miles of exterior boundary for the Trail corridor each year, addressing management and encroachment issues as needed.

We will also address the growing number of visitors on the A.T. when those numbers have an impact on Trail resources and conflict with visitor expectations. Our work in 2018 will build on new systems that manage hiker use, particularly northbound thru-hikers. A.T.Camp, a new, on-line, voluntary registration system, will be in full swing for all A.T. campers to register at overnight sites. We had over 85% of thru hikers using this system in 2017. The registration is intended to help campers and groups avoid high use areas as they plan for overnight site stays. <atcamp.org>

Our Visitor Use Manager, Jason Zink, is working with partners across the Trail to build capacity to implement ATC’s approved Visitor Use Management policy. ATC staff and partners are focused on acute visitor use issues in target areas, including the 100 Mile Wilderness of northern Maine, Franconia Ridge, McAfee Knob, and in Georgia.  Hiker education through Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educator training and beginning backpack training are other tactics to address visitor use challenges, particularly at overnight sites. ATC offers courses that develop partner capacity to host additional local courses for new audiences.

Our visitor centers also offer information to experienced and new hikers. Our center in Monson, ME, the gateway to the 100 Mile Wilderness, is well positioned to reach thousands of hikers heading into this sensitive area and onto Baxter State Park and Katahdin. Work is also underway in Damascus, Virginia in partnership with that A.T. Community to develop a new visitor center in town that will serve as a gateway to the very popular Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Design for the center is underway now with construction set to begin by mid-2018.

2018 Benchmarks:

  • Increased annual funding for Trail improvement projects.
  • All priority Trail improvement projects are completed.
  • Priority visitor use management plans developed and implementation initiated.
  • Hire, train, and place at least 30 ridgerunners for priority high-use sites.
  • Increased (>85%) thru-hiker use of the A.T.Camp voluntary registration system.
  • Design and construction of the Damascus Trail Center is completed.