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.


Accomplishments in 2015

The ATC field staff hiked a large portion of the Trail with GPS units to inventory more than half the A.T.’s assets — they then created a database with that information that will be used to improve the treadway, bridges, overnight sites, and parking areas. The inventory will be completed in 2016.

We worked diligently to implement projects that help us better understand the impacts of visitor use — which is increasing — on Trail resources and initiated a Protecting the A.T. Hiking Experience initiative (PATHE). Our work included partnering with Jeff Marion, a U.S. Geological Survey recreation ecologist based at Virginia Tech to begin a multi-year study of visitor impacts.

After partnering with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in 2014 to become a Leave No Trace Master Educator course provider, the ATC offered two Master Educator courses in 2015. More than 50 individuals are now positioned to help train others in the skills and ethics of Leave No Trace. Three Master Educator courses and several Trainer courses are planned for 2016.

The ATC published a “Group Management Manual”— in partnership with several New England Trail clubs — to be used as a resource by Trail maintaining clubs for managing large, organized groups on the A.T.

We also launched a voluntary thru-hiker registration system — a tool that helps prospective thru-hikers share their start dates with other thru-hikers and plan their itinerary in order to avoid the social and ecological impacts of overcrowding on the Trail. Through registration, hikers can enhance their A.T. experience and enable the ATC to better manage the A.T. — without additional regulations.